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Adapt leadership and management styles to reflect different situations and stages in a care team’s development

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: Although this page has been marked as complete, it has not yet been peer-reviewed or quality-assured, therefore it should be considered a ‘first draft’ and any information should be fact-checked independently.

As we explored in the section about leadership theories, there is evidence to suggest that a single leadership style is insufficient and great leaders are able to adapt their leadership and management style to reflect different situations and stages in a care team’s development.

Looking back at Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership, we can see that different approaches are needed depending on the confidence and competency of team members. New team members require a more autocratic leadership style and as they become more skilled, experienced and self-assured, a more democratic or laissez-faire approach can be used.

Situational Leadership Model

Tuckman’s ‘Developmental Sequence in Small Groups‘ (1965) identified four stages that a team goes through on the path to optimal performance. They are forming, storming, forming and performing.

In the forming stage, a new team is put together and the team members are unsure of their role and how they fit in so require a lot of direction from the leader. At the storming stage, team members begin to overstep boundaries and question leadership. A strong leader will need to take a coaching approach to their team with elements of both autocratic and democratic styles. During the norming phase, roles and responsibilities are established and the team begins to work well together. The leader can use a more democratic leadership style. The performing stage is when all team members work together harmoniously to achieve their shared goals. The leader will know what they can expect from the team and may delegate more. They may adopt a more laissez-faire approach if they feel the team can be trusted to work independently.

When working with individuals, you may use a democratic leadership style but sometimes have to adapt to a more autocratic or directing style when there are issues with performance or if the situation is time-sensitive (such as during an emergency).