Hersey and Blanchard’s Leadership Styles

Hersey and Blanchard’s Leadership Styles

Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model stands out as a beacon of adaptability and personalized leadership. Introduced in the 1970s, this innovative framework proposes that effective leadership styles are contingent upon the maturity level of the followers. It’s a dynamic dance between leader and follower, where flexibility and understanding pave the way to achieving shared goals.

The Four Quadrants of Leadership:

Hersey and Blanchard’s model breaks down leadership into four distinct styles. Each of them is tailored to match the follower’s development stage in terms of competence and commitment. These styles form a guide for leaders to adjust their approach, ensuring optimal team performance and individual growth.

Directing (S1): 

Best suited for followers with low competence but high commitment. This directing style involves telling people what to do, how to do it, and when. It’s a hands-on approach to leadership, offering close supervision and guidance to those just starting on their path.

Coaching (S2): 

For followers who are beginning to develop competence but still have variable commitment, the coaching style offers the right mix of directive and supportive behaviors. Leaders spend time building relationships, encouraging, and soliciting input, yet still make the final decisions on how to pick and perform the tasks.

Supporting (S3): 

This style aligns with followers who have high competence but may lack confidence or motivation. Leaders employing the supporting style facilitate and support followers’ efforts towards task completion. Leaders are also sharing decision-making responsibilities to bolster involvement and commitment.

Delegating (S4): 

When followers are both highly competent and committed, the delegating style allows leaders to take a step back, passing responsibility for decisions and implementation of tasks to the followers. It’s a mark of trust and respect, empowering team members to take ownership of their work.

The Maturity Model:

Central to applying Hersey and Blanchard’s model effectively is assessing the follower’s maturity level, which encompasses both their ability and their willingness to take responsibility for guiding their own behavior in achieving specific tasks. Maturity is categorized into four levels:

  • M1: Low competence, high commitment
  • M2: Some competence, low commitment
  • M3: High competence, variable commitment
  • M4: High competence, high commitment

Adapting Leadership for Maximum Impact:

The beauty of Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model lies in its fluidity. Leaders are encouraged to dynamically shift their style in response to the developmental trajectory of their team members. This responsive approach not only enhances team effectiveness but also fosters an environment of growth, learning, and mutual respect.


Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model offers a nuanced perspective on leadership, emphasizing the importance of adaptability and personalized guidance. By astutely assessing the maturity level of their followers and adjusting their leadership style accordingly, leaders can cultivate a thriving work environment that encourages both individual and collective excellence. This model serves as a reminder that at the heart of effective leadership lies a deep understanding of and responsiveness to the needs of those you are leading, paving the way for a harmonious and productive journey together.