Situational Team Leadership Model

Situational Team Leadership Model


The Situational Team Leadership model addresses the fact that not everyone on your team is on the same intellectual, maturity, compliance or motivational level. To be an effective leader of your team, you must take into account that different people are motivated by different things. Experts on communication agree that it is essential for leaders to tailor their message to their target audience. As a leader, you are looking to inspire and influence your team. To do this successfully, you need to know whom you are trying to inspire and influence.

Four types of leadership styles are incorporated into the Situational Team Leadership model. The four leadership styles are Telling, Selling, Participating and Delegating. The goal of the model is to develop the team members to the Delegating level.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Telling Leadership Style

Telling is the first level of the four leadership styles. On this level, team members more often than not require direct instructions. Team members on this level are characterized by low competence but high commitment. These members are often unable to comply with what is expected from them which may lead to feelings of insecurity.

On this level, the team leader focuses mainly on tasks. The leader will not focus on relationships at this stage as a relationship still has to be formed with the team members.  He/she will often spend a lot of time assisting team members as they may not yet have the knowledge or abilities required. Clear instructions are often needed, and the leader needs to do regular follow ups.

The Telling leadership style requires the leader to be encouraging and motivational. Positive results are constantly praised and correction given where needed. The goal is to motivate the team member to rise to the next level of ability. This leadership style is largely a leader-driven stage.

Selling Leadership Style

The Selling Leadership Style is suitable for those team members who have developed some competence. These team members may not be fully convinced yet, but are becoming more open to be cooperative and motivated. The leader is still required to focus highly on tasks, but the focus can now also include developing a relationship with the team members. You can now build upon the trust that has begun to develop and the encouragement that has been demonstrated. On this level, leaders must spend more time listening to the team members and offering advice. Additional training for team members can also be scheduled if the situation requires it.

Once again the goal is to engage the team members so they can develop to the next level.  This leadership style calls for less telling and more suggesting which leads to more encouragement. The leader acts more like a coach, recognizing that they have progressed, and motivating the team to improve even further. This leadership style is decidedly leader-driven.

Participating Leadership Style

The Participating Leadership Style addresses those team members who are now proficient at doing their tasks, but remain somewhat inconsistent and are not yet fully committed. Despite their competence, they may at times be uncooperative and only do the minimum of what is required of them. Although the leader no longer needs to give detailed instructions, he/she must still engage with and support the team members. Continued supervision is required to ensure that the tasks are being done at the level required. The team leader now focuses less on the tasks assigned and more on the relationship between the leader and the team members.

Delegating Leadership Style

The Delegating Leadership Style is the ultimate goal of the Situational Team Leadership model. At this level, the team members feel fully empowered and competent enough to work on their own with minimal supervision. These team members are highly competent, committed, motivated and empowered. Tasks can be delegated to the team members with minimal follow up and supervision. The leader can delegate tasks with confidence, knowing that an acceptable or even excellent result will be achieved. The team members do not need to be complimented on every task, but continued praised for outstanding performance is given when appropriate. The Delegating Leadership Style is an extremely team-driven style.


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