#Asia Want to accelerate startup growth? Here’s why situational leadership is important


One of the biggest mistakes most leaders – including managers – make is that they utilise the same leadership style with everyone



Situational leadership is probably the most used, recognised and effective leadership tool in the history of the behavioural sciences.

Because it’s effective and easily applicable, startups can apply the concept to accelerate their growth to another level. After all, you need to scale your startup at some point.

What is situational leadership?

The concept was developed by Dr. Paul Hersey in the late 1960s. According to Study.com, the definition of situational leadership is a theory that a leader’s effectiveness is contingent on his ability to modify his management behaviour to the level of his subordinates’ maturity or sophistication.

Or simply put, depending on where your leader is in relationship to his or her employee, you see the right leadership style that goes along with it.

Why is situational leadership important?

One of the biggest mistakes most leaders – including managers – make is that they utilise the same leadership style with everyone. Some people needs to be micro-managed to better perform than delegated too much authority.

For instance, some people perform much better when I give them freedom while the others prefer to be managed, which prompts me to see what the best solution is for everyone in my team. Since everyone is different, leaders are responsible to adapt to each different situation.

That’s where situational leadership comes in. You obviously want your team to perform at their highest potential. Situational leadership help leaders match their leadership styles to maximise what you are looking for from your team.

How is it relevant for your startup growth?

When you just launched a startup, you don’t necessary have to structure it as detailed as corporates. I know one of the cool aspects of working at a startup is the lack of bureaucracy and freedom. This is also the reason why many founders don’t want to bind their staff with rules and structures.

Situational leadership, however, embraces diversity and individuality. As a responsible leader, you are the one who needs to adapt for THEM. Not the other way around.

I jotted down several points about why situational leaderships is relevant to your startup growth:

  • Maintaining awareness of your teams’ inner skill sets – it leads to enhanced strengths which help them perform better.
  • Because you adapt to each team member, you conduct highly effective conversations – communication flow that saves time.
  • You become more influential to your team and across the organisation – knowing when to switch “ON” and “OFF” enhances the nature of the working environment.
  • Accelerating the development of each team members will create more productive organisation – faster adaption to your startup from new team members and / or new departments.
  • Recognising and addressing committed teams will create engaged community.

How to apply situational leadership in your startup?

There are four types of situational leadership styles in which leaders should be able to adjust to individual’s needs:

  1. Telling: When your team requires to learn the skills needed, this style is to tell how to do something and what to do – high degree of direction needed.
  2. Selling: When your team has or started to develop their skills and this style helps enhancing their skills in depth – slightly less degree of direction than telling.
  3. Participating: the leaders adjusts their style to democratic and less task direction needed as your team knows what they need to do – this is when you can create their goals along with them.
  4. Delegating: Your team are competent. As a leader, no need to assist or monitor them but regular updates.

Most of the people who work for startups are self-driven and proactive. When your team grows you will have to hire more people with less competency than early members. As a leader, you are responsible in managing them as effectively as you can to lead new people to the next level. Knowing that everyone has a different style is vital from the get-go.

Entrepreneurs and founders who want to learn more about situational leadership can find a variety of resources online. I recommend you check Slingshot, aThai leading consultancy for leadership.

What kind of leadership style do you have in you startup? I’ll be more than happy to discuss with you.

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here .

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