Performance Task – Case 1 – Jeanne Lewis Essay

AbstractThis writing discusses the Situational Leadership model and its drivers. Additionally, it applies the Situational Leadership Model to the Jeanne Lewis business case study. Finally, it discusses the transitions in leadership style and how the case study illustrates those transitions.Performance Task – Case 1 – Jeanne LewisThe Situational Leadership Model is a leadership theory developed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard in the 1960’s (Hersey, Blanchard, Johnson, 2008). The model suggests that leadership style is dependent upon the maturity of the followers to include job experience and willingness to accomplish specific tasks.

Where maturity is low, leaders must be directive, or task focused. As maturity increases, leaders would shift their own behavior to being more relationship-motivated or supportive (Situational leadership theory, 2009).There are three primary elements integral to the Situational Leadership Model.

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These elements include the amount of direction and socio-emotional support given by a leader. These fundamentals cannot stand alone, however. Follower readiness is the glue that binds this concept together.  Leaders take their management or leadership queues from the people they are leading. Individual team members need the leader to support them in different ways and the amount of direction given will depend upon a combination of the task and the team member’s ability.  As it relates to Situational Leadership, this type of support, referred to as task behavior, is specific to the intricacy or detail of the instruction the leader lends to aid in completion of a task. The relationship behavior, or socio-emotional support, is also follower-driven.

The leader listens, facilitates, and engages in two-way communication in an effort to move the task along. The amount of this support, driven by the follower’s need, is used to get the follower over the proverbial hump as it relates to completing the task. This is typically when the follower has all of the skills necessary for completion, but they are hesitant or need encouragement.  The final component in this model, follower readiness, speaks to the follower’s ability and willingness to complete the task.

Follower readiness or performance readiness are terms specific to a follower’s willingness and ability to perform a specific task. On the surface, willingness and ability appear to be unrelated, however as it relates to the Situational Leadership Model, these factors are interdependent upon one another. The ability a follower has to complete the assigned task as well as the willingness that follower has to see the task to the end dictate the performance outcomes of said task. A change in either factor could yield a significant positive or negative effect.

Follower readiness is sectioned into two categories: Follower directed and Leader directed.  The concept is further divided into four additional categories or quadrants: Able and willing and confident, able but unwilling or insecure, unable but willing or confident, unable and unwilling or insecure (Krietner & Kinicki, 2004). The following diagram better illustrates the relationship between the quadrants.Followers falling under the R1 quadrant are unable and lack confidence or are unable and unwilling to complete a given task. There is neither commitment nor motivation on the part of the follower. In quadrant R2, we find followers that are unable but willing and confident. The ability is absent, however with the proper guidance and mentoring from the leader, the follower will be up to the task. The R3 quadrant houses those followers who are able but lack the confidence or the willingness to perform.

Finally, in the R4 quadrant we find those followers who are able and willing or able and confident to meet performance expectations. None of these quadrants are absolute, meaning that follower readiness is task specific. As it relates to task A follower X falls into quadrant R1, however, when presented with task B, follower X moves up the continuum to quadrant R4 (Hersey,, 2008).To understand a leader’s impact on the various performance readiness styles, it is imperative to review the leadership styles as defined by the Situational Leadership Model.  As with follower readiness, there are four categories of leadership.  The following diagram best illustrates these styles:Beginning in the lower right or S1 quadrant, we see a leadership style that is task oriented but has low relationship behavior.

In this quadrant, the leader directs the work of the subordinates and provides close supervision. The communication typically flows in one direction – from the leader to the followers in the form of directives aimed at completing the task. The S2 leadership style is more “coach” oriented. Although the leader continues to give directives, he or she seeks suggestions from the followers and engages in a two-way communication flow. Supportive leaders fall into the S3 leadership category.  This leader gives the follower freedom to make certain decisions relating to daily flow of work, task allocation and process.  The leader is loosely involved and serves as a facilitator.  Leaders who delegate a great deal of control to the followers fall under category S4 of the Situational Leadership Model.

These leaders are involved in decisions and problem solving, however, the follower determines when to include the leader (Hersey,, 2008).Each leadership quadrant directly correlates to a rung on the Follower Readiness continuum as evidenced by the following illustration:When followers possess low ability, willingness, and confidence (R1), the leader must exhibit an S1 leadership style in order to direct the task and ensure the follower complies.

In this case, much of the leader’s time is spent directing and there is little relationship or socio-emotional support.  As followers move to the second rung or R2 level of the continuum, they lack ability but possess confidence and willingness. The leader is able to give direction through explaining and offering support. R3 followers are able to do the job but are unwilling or lack confidence.  The leader must engage this person in a way that will build their confidence and gain their buy-in.

  The leadership style that corresponds to the R4 follower type requires low relationship and low task input. This means that the leader can delegate certain responsibilities to the follower and expect positive outcomes because the follower, in this case, is both committed and motivated to meet the leader’s expectations (Hersey,, 2008).

Next, we will apply the Situational Leadership Model to the Jeanne Lewis case study.As discussed previously in this writing, Situational Leadership style modification is based upon a combination of the task and the readiness of followers. It is possible for leaders’ styles to transition over time from quadrant S1 (High Task/Low Relationship) to quadrant S4 (Low Relationship/Low Task).  Throughout most of the case study, as it relates to Situational Leadership, Jeanne Lewis initially applied the S1 – High Task/Low Relationship – leadership style at the onset of her change in role.

It was typical for Ms. Lewis to be placed in situations with which she had very limited familiarity and was required to gather information and make decisions quickly. In the case study, Ms. Lewis talks about her approach to tackling her role in the marketing department and says “.

..I jump in and say “here’s the way to do it!”.”  She mentions that doing this makes things happen quickly though she recognizes that this style may hinder her ability to work across the organization (Suesse & Hill, 2005, p. 79).Ms.

Lewis used the same approach when she was assigned to oversee operations. When asked about working under the leadership of Ms. Lewis, one of her direct reports described the time as one of “..

.personal growth…” This direct report went on to say, “She tended to manage tightly at first, then loosened the reins” (Suesse & Hill, 2005, p. 81). This is an example of the transition that can happen in the Situational Leadership model. In this way, Ms.

Lewis transitioned from the S1 quadrant to the S3 quadrant. This is attributable to her realization that her staff was in deed able, but possibly insecure in their ability to execute.Ms. Lewis reflects in the case study that the onboarding process calls for existing staff to get the new manager acclimated.

Because she was placed in roles where performance improvement was expected to happen quickly so time to get acclimated was more of a pipedream. Instead, Ms. Lewis was left to fix things rapidly. In the case study, another direct report noted that her initial interaction with Ms. Lewis left her feeling that she would be micromanaged.

She was glad to find, however, that Ms. Lewis made a practice of engaging the team in debate in an effort to find creative solutions (Suesse & Hill, 2005, p. 81). This example is a delineation of the S2 leadership style – High Task/High Relationship.  This style was appropriate because the followers in this example were confident and willing. Their overall performance, however, showed that they were unable. This is why Lewis had to also engage in a high task leadership style.Follower readiness, socio-emotional support, and the amount of direction given from the leader are all integral parts of the Situational Leadership Model.

Follower behavior is the driver of this model. When followers exhibit little ability and little motivation, it is incumbent upon the leader to be very direct in giving exact instructions to ensure appropriate completion of the task and achievement of performance measures. As followers show more ability and commitment, leader behavior changes whereby the leader begins to delegate tasks to the follower and serve more as a facilitator.  The Jeanne Lewis case illustrated these transitions in leadership. We saw Ms. Lewis go into various roles with very little guidance with the expectation that she improve performance. In each case, she began with High Task/Low Relationship or S1 leadership. She altered her style over time as followers became accustomed to her approach and she saw that they were able and committed to making improvements.

ReferencesHersey, P. , Blanchard, K.  & Johnson, D. (2008). Management of organizational behavior.  Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Kreitner, R., & Kinicki, A. (2004). Organizational Behavior (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

“Situational Leadership Theory”  Business and Management. Ed. Jonathan Law. Oxford University Press, 2009. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.

  Apollo Group.  14 December 2009, J.

M., & Hill, L. A.

(2005). Jeanne Lewis at Staples, Inc. (A) (Abridged). Boston, MA: Harvard Business Publishing. Pp. 1–14, Primis pp. 78–91. 


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