Situational Leadership in Action (Part 2)

Today’s post is a continuation of last week’s post, which is embedded within a larger multi-week series on Situational Leadership.

Last week I ended by asking you to take time diagnosing people’s readiness for a task.  We looked at two key terms.  The first was ability (and contrasting that with capability), and the second was willingness.

So think back over your week last week.  Think of the tasks you were asking people (even students) to perform.  Now thinking of a specific person you asked to complete that task.  What was their level of readiness?  Were they (1) unable and unwilling, (2) unable and willing, (3) able and unwilling, or (4) able and willing?  What were the indicators you used to identify where they were?

You see, that’s the first two steps of the SitLead model.  So today we talk a look at steps 3 and 4.  Step 3 is matching and communicating leader response while step 4 is called managing the movement.

Matching and Communicating Leader Response

While one might think that this is the most time-consuming aspect of the model, I’d suggest that this is actually pretty simple.  Once you understand the basic model (and if you want a refresher click here), once you have identified the specific task, and once you have determined a person’s readiness, you’re all set to match leadership style.  So let’s remind ourselves what that graphic looks like:

Image 2

Now combine it with the readiness spectrum: Image 4

So here it is…

  • Someone who is Unable and Unwilling needs More Direction and Less Support
  • Someone who is Unable but Willing needs More Direction and More Support
  • Someone who is Able but Unwilling needs Less Direction and More Support
  • Someone who is Able and Willing needs Less Direction and Less Support

Remember my tasks?   Plumbing, Electrical, Tree house, and Mowing the lawn?  Here’s what it would look like when you put it together:

  • Plumbing: I need a lot of step-by-step directions; I don’t need a lot of “here’s why you do it” because, frankly, I can’t handle it.  Just help me get the job done successfully, and what I need is short, specific, and kind direction (put this here, do this this way, etc).  You’re not micro-managing, you’re meeting me where I am
  • Electrical: Again, I need a lot of direction, but because I’m more willing to do this task I need you to explain why I’m doing stuff; I need you to talk through different options I have while at the same time keeping the locus of control in yourself as a teacher.  So you’re giving me lots of direction, and you’re giving me more relational support to be successful
  • Tree house: Here I need less direction (because I know how to do it), but I need lots of encouragement, I need someone to stand with me and ask me questions to get me thinking through my options, and then I need you to trust me to do the job.
  • Mow the lawn: Here I need very little of either direction or support – maybe something like, “Hey, you’re going to get the law mowed this weekend, right?” followed by a “Hey – nice job – the lawn looks great!” when I’m done.  But that’s about it.  Don’t over-do it.

If that seems overly simplistic, yeah, it probably is…. This is normally a full-day training we offer to people here in the district, so I’m trying to take a full-day of training and condense it down to just some key pointers in these blog posts.  For those who have been through the training this probably all makes perfect sense.  But if you’ve not been through the full training it may be a bit fuzzy.  And that’s okay.  The big idea for people in that camp is that you’re starting to see that (1) people need to be led differently at different times, and (2) leaders need to lead differently based not on the person but on the situation.  If you walk away at he end of the day with that learning, then you’ve made a huge step in understanding (though perhaps not applying) the SitLead framework.

Managing the Movement

The last step, but certainly not the least important, is to manage the movement.  Honestly, this I the one for me that is easiest to forget (or at least neglect).  The idea behind this step is that people should be growing in their ability to complete a given task, and as they grow the leader needs to be responsive and adjust.  At it’s heart, SitLead is about supporting others in developing what we call Self-Directedness and moving across the matrix.


Let’s go back to my plumbing example… Even though right now I’m unable and unwilling, with time, support, and direction, the goal would be for my readiness to improve… First to unable and willing but eventually to able and willing.  And you as the leader need to adjust your style as I grown (or regress, if the case may be if we were talking about mowing the lawn). To go back to my earlier examples, the end goal of situational leadership would be to help support me from needing lots of help in plumbing to being as confident in fixing plumbing as I am in mowing my lawn.  When you’ve done that as a leader, then you’ve truly impacted and influenced me as your follower.

Next week I’ll take some time to connect SitLead with other initiatives in Pitt County Schools in an effort to demonstrate how things align.  Specifically I’ll talk about both Cognitive CoachingSM – a training we’ve been offering how for about 5 years for administrators and instructional coaches – and also some parallels to the Learning Focused framework that teachers have been working with for the last couple of years.  Until then, though, I would challenge you to go back to that person you thought of at the beginning of this post – the one you diagnosed readiness for on a specific task.  Today, answer these questions:  (1) How you might support them based on the needs they have? and (2) What might that support look/sound like?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: