HR Terminology Situational Leadership

Complygate has put together a complete list of key HR terms, phrases, acronyms and jargon to assist HR professionals in navigating the extensive, ever-growing HR terminology. We would like to encourage you to read, share and make use of this terminology collection. If you have any suggestions of terms or keywords we have missed, please contact us and we will include them in our next update.

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What is situational leadership?

Situational leadership is based on leadership theories that outline the belief of there being no one more effective than leaders, and that they are the most effective to adapt their leadership to any style of task, project or people.

Leadership was first built and developed by Professor Paul Hersey and guru Ken Blanchard in the 1970s. Where it was originally visualised as the ‘life cycle theory of leadership.’

There are four types of interchangeable leadership styles at the core of the theory, as developed by Blanchard and Hersey.


  • Style 1 - Selling - where the leader gives support and some audience was needed for people to buy into the process.
  • Style 2 - Telling - this is where the leader communicates directly with the employees telling them exactly what is needed for them to do to complete their job role.
  • Style 3 - Delegating - for the leader to keep an eye so in other words monitor and carry out the job role. And the key responsibilities would have been passed on to other people.
  • Style 4 - Participating - where the leader focuses on shared decision-making and less focused on providing behavioural guidance.
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