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BUS 366 International Business : Situational Leadership Theory


1. The Managerial Grid (Robert Blake and Jane Mouton)

2. How to Choose a Leadership Pattern (Robert Tannenbaum and Warren H. Schmidt)

3. Leadership Decision Making (Victor H. Vroom and Arthur G. Jago)

4. One Minute Management (Kenneth H. Blanchard)

5. Fundamental Leadership Practices (James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner)

6. Management and Leadership (John P. Kotter)

7. Servant Leadership (Robert K. Greenleaf)

8. Situational Leadership (Paul Hersey)

9. Crucibles of Leadership (Warren G. Bennis and Robert J. Thomas)


The Situational Leadership by Paul Hersey.


This article's argument is that leadership is subject to each separate situation, and no particular leadership style can be r

egarded as the best. Tasks do differ, and each type demands a different leadership style. (Hersey, 1984)


Hersey continues to expound on the above opening thesis. The situational leadership theory comprises of two pillars namely maturity level of the subjects and leadership style. According to the author, leadership styles originate from four simple behaviors, represented by a combination of letters and numbers: S1, S2, S3, and S4 which stands for telling, selling, participating and delegating respectively. (Shrinberg & Shrinberg, 2011)

Hersey suggests four maturity levels of the group and designates them with letter word combinations: M1. M2, M3, and M4. The M1 level is unwilling to perform a task, M2 has the inability to do the job though willing, M3 is competent to undertake the work but are not sure they can, and M4 is a group that is ready, willing, and can carry out the task. Different levels of maturity may involve different type of tasks, for instance an individual with an M3 maturity level may only be an M1 regarding specific work (Hersey & Blanchard, 1988).

Thoughts and Reflections

Hersey discusses nicely the various levels of leadership styles. However, I see that the theory may be irrelevant in certain situations where it’s only the followers who are to work, for instance in emergency situations or wartime. These situations may need a leader who has to do more than just looking at the willingness and competence. "Unfortunately, no absolute standard of readiness or maturity exists. ... Therefore, standardization is needed in order to clarify which subordinate populations should be considered 'ready' and which should not” (Goodson et al, 1989).


Hersey,P. (1984). The Situational Leader. Escondido, CA: Center for Leadership Studies.

Shrinberg, A., & Shrinberg, D. (2011). Practicing Leadership: Principles and Applications-

(4th Ed.). New Jersey: John Wiley & sons Inc.

Hersey, P., & Blanchard, H., K. (1988).  Management and Organizational Behavior: Utilizing

Human Resources - (2nd Ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Goodson, J. R., Cashman, J. F., & McGee, G. W. (1989). Situational leadership theory: A test

of leadership prescriptions. Group & Organization Studies, 14 (4), pg. 358.

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