Managing team members based on their competency levels

Situational leadership and how to use it in onboarding and day-to-day team management

Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all approach. A leader comes across various types of people and situations, and that’s where situational leadership comes into the picture—it’s all about tailoring your leadership style to fit the situation and the competency level of your team members.

When it comes to leadership styles, there are four main types: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating.

  • Directing is like being a helicopter parent and providing constant guidance and supervision. It’s perfect for enthusiastic beginners.
  • Coaching is about explaining the task at hand and encouraging team members to offer their ideas and suggestions. Use this style with people who have some experience.
  • Supporting is for employees who need less direction but still require guidance and advice. This leadership style is perfect in cases where your team member shows a lack of commitment and low motivation due to previous setbacks.
  • Delegating is 100% hands-off, where you simply assign a task and let your employees take reins. Use it for self-reliant achievers with high competency and commitment. Don’t forget about the importance of feedback and recognition for them so that they don’t feel left out.

Situational leadership is particularly useful during the onboarding process and for increasing employees’ skills and expertise. New employees are often enthusiastic beginners and need a lot of direction and guidance from their leaders. However, as they grow and develop their skills, they move to other competency levels and require different leadership styles.

Using situational leadership, leaders can help their team members develop the skills and expertise they need to be successful in their roles. It requires a deep understanding of each employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential for growth, and the payoff is that your team feels better and more productive at work. It’s a win–win situation!