Much research has been done in the past decades on the effectiveness of leadership behavior. Research revealed that the effectiveness depends on the situation and the environment. As well as the task or relationship orientation of your leadership.

Your style flexibility as a leader is based on your skills in 4 different basic behavioral styles.

Much research has been done in the past decades on the effectiveness of leadership behaviors. Researchers have always looked for those traits of leaders that determine their effectiveness In practice, however, effective leaders were found to have little in common in terms of their traits. Somewhat later, researchers shifted their attention from traits to the behavior or style(s) of leaders. Research showed, among other things, that a certain style of leadership worked well in one situation and not in another.


This shifted attention to those situations and environmental factors that are apparently important in explaining effective leadership behavior. Situational theories thus made their appearance.



In almost all theories that focus on operational leadership behavior, 2 elements emerge, namely:

  • The leader’s focus on the task
  • The leader’s focus on the person or relationship



Task orientation here means: the extent to which the leader indicates what, when, where and how something should be done. The relationship orientation indicates: the personal interest and attention, which the leader has for an employee.


Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard, 2 American scientists and management experts, have developed a situational leadership theory based on these 2 elements, which starts from the employee. The premise of situational leadership is, that an effective manager adapts his or her leadership style to the characteristics of the situation. Hersey & Blanchard’s description of leadership behavior is as follows: leadership behavior occurs when, in a given situation, someone wants to influence the behavior of another (or others) in his or her desired direction.


This behavior can be called successful when the leader’s behavior results in employees “obeying”. This behavior is effective when the influence of the other(s) is additionally accepted and positively valued.

Hersey and Blanchard's leadership model

Hersey and Blanchard's leadership model overlooks 4 basic behavioral styles (S1 tem S4) for leaders.

The 4 styles (combinations of varying measures of task and relationship orientation):

S3 Support

  • Indicating what needs to be done
  • Discuss employee problems
  • Showing understanding for problems
  • Let employee solve problems with support from supervisor
  • Agree on solutions
  • Control afterwards
S2 Guidance

  • Point out what needs to be done or what went wrong
  • Involve employees when mistakes are made
  • Identify gaps in knowledge and skills
  • Make adjustments and indicate why
  • Make control agreements
  • Control afterwards
S4 Delegate

  • Indicating what needs to be done
  • Discuss the quality and quantity of the result
  • Discuss the conditions of implementation
  • Discuss the role and contributions of the supervisor
  • Express confidence
  • Control afterwards
S1 Instruct

  • State what is to be done
  • Indicate who, what, where, when and how
  • Give examples, demonstrate
  • Ask test questions and let them practice
  • Control before and after
  • Praise progress

t’s clear from the figure that each style of leadership is typified by its own blending relationship between task and relationship orientation:

  1. S1: instructing style: much task, little relationship
  2. S2: guiding style: much task, much relationship
  3. S3: supporting style: little task, much relationship
  4. S4: delegating style: little task, little relationship

These styles describe the concrete behavior of the supervisor. Not what the manager has in his/her head, but what the manager does in the employee's perception determines the extent to which the employee is influenced.


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