Hersey Blanchard Model

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Hersey-Blanchard Model

The Hersey-Blanchard model, also known as the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory, is a theory that advocates the existence of more than one optimum style of leadership.

This model addresses the relationship between leadership style and subordinate maturity. Maturity concerns the ability to orient one’s actions and behavior toward the job’s requirements.

A Little More on What is the Hursey-Blanchard Situational Model?

The model came into being in the 1970s because of the combined efforts of academician Paul Hersey and leadership professional Ken Blanchard, both renowned authors as well.

The Hersey-Blanchard model introduces the concept of “follower maturity” which is a measure of the capability and willingness of a group to perform a task under the guidance of a leader. This model empowers managers to adopt different leadership styles to suit the variable behavioral parameters of task and relationship.

The Key aspects of the model are as follows:

  • Leadership Style – Style is determined based upon:
    • Relational Behavior – This is the interpersonal relationship between leader and subordinate.
    • Task Behavior – This concerns the amount of direction provided by the leader to subordinates
      This relationship creates a matrix of:

      • Hi Relational – Hi Task
      • Hi Relational – Low Task
      • Low Relational – High Task
      • Low Relational – Low Task
  • Subordinate Maturity – The subordinate‚Äôs skill and knowledge are called job maturity. The confidence and commitment of the subordinate to use this toward the accomplishment of work tasks is psychological maturity. This leads to the following matrix:
    • High Ability – High Willingness
    • High Ability – Low Willingness
    • Low Ability – High Willingness
    • Low Ability – Low Willingness.

The model then identifies four leadership styles that will correspond with these leader and subordinate attributes:

  • Delegating – When the subordinate is hi-ability-hi-willingness, the leader must show low-task-low-relationship behavior.
  • Participating – When the subordinate is hi-ability-low-willingness, the leader must show low-task-high-relationship behavior.
  • Selling – When the subordinate is low-ability-hi-willingness, the leader must show high-task-high-relationship behavior.
  • Telling – When the subordinate is low-ability-low-willingness, the leader must show high-task-low-relationship behavior.

It is obligatory for supervisors employing the Hersey-Blanchard model to be able to choose a leadership style in keeping with the level of maturity of their followers.

A group with a high level of follower maturity requires the least amount of guidance; hence, a delegating style of leadership is the way to go here. Conversely, a group with low follower maturity is obviously inexperienced and lacking in confidence; so, the leader needs to adopt a telling style to communicate to the group what their goals are and how to achieve them.

Uses and Limitations of the Hersey-Blanchard Model

The Hersey-Blanchard Model allows leaders to exercise control over their respective groups based on their maturity levels. Since this model provides a thorough understanding of the capabilities, shortcomings and cognizance levels of different groups, it invariably helps leaders choose the best leadership styles for their groups.

However, the ‘Hersey-Blanchard Model does come with its own set of drawbacks. Many a times, the hierarchy in the organization becomes a pivotal force that dictates leadership styles irrespective of the maturity levels of the followers. Additionally, a lack of time and limited availability of resources also come across as massive restraints that force the leaders to act circumstantially. This severely limits the scope of an ideal maturity level-based strategy.

Academic Research on Hersey and Blanchard Model

The situational leadership theory: A critical view, Graeff, C. L. (1983). The situational leadership theory: A critical view. Academy of management review, 8(2), 285-291.d In this paper, theoretical issues undermining the robustness of the situational leadership theory and the utility of its prescriptive model are discussed. More specifically, conceptual ambiguity associated with the mechanics of applying the concept of job-relevant maturity and other problems with the normative model are seen as seriously limiting its pragmatic utility. In addition, problems with the LEAD instrument are identified and discussed.

The impact of national culture on effectiveness of situational leadership Hersey-Blanchard, Vandayani, P., Kartini, D., & Hilmiana, Y. A. (2015). The impact of national culture on effectiveness of situational leadership Hersey-Blanchard. DEVELOPMENT, 1, S4. This paper try to propose national culture as one of the factors that may be the cause of the inappropriate condition of the Hersey Blanchards situational leadership concept when applied to Bank Nagari. This study was theoritical review especially about the effect national culture on leadership effectiveness of Bank Nagari Branch Bandung. The result illustrated that national culture have a significant effect on leadership effectiveness of Bank Nagari Branch Bandung.

There is Nothing So Unequal as the Equal Treatment of Unequals-Advancing the HerseyBlanchard Situational Leadership Model for Contemporary Day …, Hingston, C. A. (2018, April). There is Nothing So Unequal as the Equal Treatment of Unequals-Advancing the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model for Contemporary Day Managers. In The 2018 Annual Conference of the Emerging Markets Conference Board (p. 285). Wits Business School.

Organizational behavior and management, Ivancevich, J. M., Matteson, M. T., & Konopaske, R. (1990). Organizational behavior and management.

The validity of Hersey and Blanchard’s theory of leader effectiveness, Hambleton, R. K., & Gumpert, R. (1982). The validity of Hersey and Blanchard’s theory of leader effectiveness.¬†Group & Organization Studies,¬†7(2), 225-242. This study examined the use and validity of Hersey and Blanchard’s Situa tional Leadership Theory. The paper aims to backed the predictions made from the theory: that high performing managers will be rated higher than low performers on leader effectiveness and flexibility of style, both in self-report and by subordinates and superiors, and will show greater knowledge and use of Situational Leadership; and that managers will generally rate subordinates’ job performance more highly when applying the theory correctly, by using results from a survey conducted on 65 managers, 189 subordinates, and 56 supervisors.

Extending Patterson’s servant leadership¬†model, Winston, B. (2003). Retrieved April,¬†12, 2008.

Situational Leadership¬†Theory: An examination of a prescriptive theory., Vecchio, R. P. (1987). Journal of Applied Psychology,¬†72(3), 444. In this study of 303 teachers representing 14 high schools, measures were taken of supervisory style, follower maturity, performance, satisfaction with supervision, and quality of leader‚Äďmember exchange. A variety of statistical tests was conducted to test the prescriptions for effective supervision contained in Situational Leadership Theory.¬† Results suggest that the theory may hold only for certain types of employees.

Toward a contingency model of leadership and psychological empowerment: When should self-leadership be encouraged?, Houghton, J. D., & Yoho, S. K. (2005). Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 11(4), 65-83. This paper develops and present a contingency model of leadership and psychological empowerment that specifies the circumstances and situations under which follower self-leadership should be encouraged. The model suggests that certain key contingency factors, including follower development, situational urgency and task structure, dictate which of several leadership approaches, including directive, transactional, transformational and empowering, should be chosen.

Transforming¬†leadership: Matching diagnostics to¬†leader¬†behaviors, Einstein, W. O., & Humphreys, J. H. (2001).¬†Journal of Leadership Studies,¬†8(1), 48-60. This article explores the critics of Bass’ (1985) construct as to its practical implementation for everyday, frontline managers. This article proposes a new, practical model for matching situational diagnostics with appropriate leader behaviors. The authors expand on Hersey and Blanchard’s situational model and relate it to the leadership work of Bass, and others, providing guidance for leaders holding no position power as well as those with such powers.

Transforming leadership: Matching diagnostics to leader behaviors, Einstein, W. O., & Humphreys, J. H. (2001). Journal of Leadership Studies,¬†8(1), 48-60. This article explores the critics of Bass’ (1985) construct as to its practical implementation for everyday, frontline managers. This article proposes a new, practical model for matching situational diagnostics with appropriate leader behaviors. The authors expand on Hersey and Blanchard’s situational model and relate it to the leadership work of Bass, and others, providing guidance for leaders holding no position power as well as those with such powers.

Developing managers’ effectiveness: A¬†model¬†with potential, Ralph, E. G. (2004). Journal of Management Inquiry,¬†13(2), 152-163. This article explores the model of contextual supervisions used by successful managers in enhancing leaders‚Äô supervisory or mentorship skills. In this article, the author describes this model and shows how it has been used to help prepare classroom teachers to mentor preservice teacher candidates as they developed their instructional skills during their practicum placements in schools.

Leadership skills and the group performance: Situational demands, behavioral requirements, and planning, Marta, S., Leritz, L. E., & Mumford, M. D. (2005). The Leadership Quarterly, 16(1), 97-120. This paper explores the degree of attention received by cognitive skills in shaping leader performance in recent years. In this study, the role of one key set of skills, planning skills, was examined with respect to leader emergence and group performance in a sample of 55 groups, containing 195 undergraduates, working on a business planning task. The paper aims to provide a detailed step for understanding the role of planning skills in shaping leader emergence and group performance.

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