Situational Leadership & Workplace Learning

I have shared in multiple posts that leadership in organizations plays an important role in employees’ performance support including their learning. I recently attended a Workshop on situational leadership created by Ken Blanchard. I’m sharing my key takeaway from the workshop as well as my reflections on how situational leadership can relate to workplace learning.

Situational leadership is categorized into different types of leadership styles that managers should adopt in relation with their staff’s performance and development levels. Some employees could be at entry level, while others are more expert. Moreover, at times the skillful employees who are considered experts in their job will have to go through a learning curve due to changes in technology or some strategies in an organization. Hence, they will no longer be considered experts and should be supported and treated differently. This would be the responsibility of the managers/leaders to map the development level of their staff with their own leadership style.

Below are four types of leadership styles:











The above styles could be used at different times depending on the situation, so there is no best one. One would be the primary style based on their personality and experience, and the rest should be used when necessary. Using the right leadership style has a significant impact on the staff’s learning at workplace. It is important that they constantly monitor their staff’s performance and identify their development level; then adjust their style based on their level.

The development level includes both competency and commitment of the employee. Below is the list of development levels:

















Employees go through different development levels depending on their year of experience, promotion, and transition. An employee will not always be in the same level. For example, a new hire with minimum experience will be in level 1, so his/her manager should use style 1 (being more directive) with them, whereas style 1 (delegating) should be used for those who are experts in their jobs. However, if an employee who is an expert in his/her job is promoted to a role in which she or he has little experience, they will move from development level 4 to 3 or 2, and it is essential that they receive support from their managers [here leadership style 3 or 2 should be applied]. Hence, leaders should match their style to the respective development level of their employees on different occasions.

This will certainly affect workplace learning, employees’ performance, and their motivation to learn. Managers should observe their staff, communicate with them, and be aware of their challenges, so they can provide timely support for them. The figure below summarizes it all:


Certainly, managers do not always have the time to be accessible and provide support when their employees need them. Support can be provided by a change in culture within the organization. Creating a conducive environment in which staff feel safe to share their work, challenges, and views with their workmates is what leaders should consider. So, a culture of sharing will help those who need support. Eventually, this will reduce the turnover rate in companies, as employees are constantly engaged and feel they are supported.

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