Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey’s Situational Leadership Model is the classic leadership model that has been around since 70s, and now in its 10th Edition. Many management gurus have adapted Situational Leadership, putting old wine in new bottles i.e. similar theory or interpretation in new book covers, with slight variations.

Situational Leadership Model


Understanding Student Readiness, Leadership Styles, and Team Stage Development:
– adapted from Ken Blanchard’s classic Situational Leadership Model to Training

Assessing the 4 Levels of Individual Student Readiness:
R1. Incompetent, unable and unwilling, uncommitted, resisting, newbie
R2. Willing, committed but still incompetent, not confident
R3. Unwilling, uncommitted, resisting but competent, able, confident
R4. Willing, open, and competent, able, confident

NOTE: ● R3 is the hardest to manage as something is not ok, and as a leader you need to know what is really bothering a R3, maybe it’s because of stress, money-debt issues, overworked, personal life problems at home or in non-work relationships, conflicts with team leader/boss/team members/cross teams, etc.

Using the Right 4 Leadership Styles:
S1. Directing, authoritative (one way)
S2. Coaching (2 ways)
S3. Counseling (quietly take the problem student aside for personal counseling, extra coaching or hand holding)
S4. Mentoring (monitoring performance, giving timely constructive guidance, not advice, always asking the student what he/ she should do)

NOTE: ● In Situational Leadership, the student doesn’t follow your style, rather you adjust and use the right Leadership Style for different student’s readiness.
● For example if you use S1 on a R4, you are micro-managing a top performer who will hate or ignore you, whereas if you use S4 on a R1, the R1 will be demoralized as he/she does not know how to do things independently yet.
Gen Z will not tolerate a leader or trainer who belong to the Gen Baby Boomers or Gen X, who is too authoritative and too controlling. Gen Z and most people prefer a leader or trainer who is empowering, encouraging, and patient to develop people.
● A leader can be a tough Alpha Male or an Alpha Female as long one is reasonable, explain the why and the what in directions and decisions.


Monitoring the 4 Team Stage Development:
TSD1: Forming, honey moon, orientation
TSD2: Storming, fights, conflicts, whining, finding faults in corporate culture, team members going separate ways
TSD3: Norming, SWOT analysis of each team member and leader, resolution, integration
TSD4: Performing, performance and productivity

NOTE: ● TSD2 is where the team spirit breaks apart, the leader needs to handle conflicts, find resolutions and a way out, address grievances, explain the organizational goals and expectations, faults of team culture and SWOT analysis of the team or organization needs to be discussed and integrated.

How to Apply Situational Leadership Model to Training:

You must realize that not all top managers or top journalists can also train well, or have the patience and skills of a trainer – different skillsets, mindsets, and heartsets for Trainer and Investigative Journalist

Bob Woodward of the Watergate Scandal, who was the recipient of nearly every major American journalism award, was an excellent speaker, university lecturer, and was an excellent Trainer in Investigative Journalism (US180 for full access to all masterclasses for 12 months). Woodward offers a different outline with his stories of how he interviews Obama, CIA chief, FBI Mark Felt (Deep Throat).

I find KiniAcademy outline is more in-depth, localized, of course much longer hours, and hot great value learning or unlearning for both newbie and full time investigative journalists (especially the cut edge Data Driven Journalism).

The Mindset of a Trainer:
Be non-judgmental, accepting of various degrees of students learning capability, patience, empowering, encouraging especially in the early ‘baby steps’ phase, when you notice a student is down, struggling to catch up with the overall group pace or making efforts. Be open to feedback.



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Situational Leadership is a part of 10 Qualities of Diamond Leadership PowerWorkshop.

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Written:  Robert Chaen
CEO of ChangeU International.

Published: 16th April 2020.

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