J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Leadership Styles and Development Levels

Leadership Styles and Development Levels

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One leadership style doesn't fit all.  According to the Situational Leadership II model, the leadership style depends on the development levels within the team.  Here's a summary:


  • If there's high competence and high commitment, use a "Delegating" style which is low support and low directive.
  • If there's high competence, but less commitment, then use a "Supporting" style, which means provide more support and encouragement.
  • If there's low competence and low commitment, then use a "Coaching" style, which provide more direction and support
  • If there’s low competence but high commitment, use a "Directing" style, which provides more direction, but less support.

Competence is knowledge and skill for the task.  Confidence is motivation and self-confidence.   I think competence breeds confidence which can help breed and sustain motivation.

The main point is that if somebody has a bunch of competence, get out of their way.  If somebody needs more encouragement, support them.  Ideally, you help somebody get to a high competence, high commitment development level. 

Key Take Aways
While this might sound obvious, I think the important point is to be flexible in your style.  Be able to vary your leadership style by situation (the context) and tailor it to the individual development levels within the team.

Another consideration is whether it's more effective to change your approach or change the situation to suit you (set yourself up for success.)  There's mixed opinions on this and some interesting results, so I may post on this downstream.

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