Finding the balance between being task and people oriented.

May 9, 2016 — Leave a comment

You’ve probably experienced the same frustration: You struggle to delegate tasks – and when you do delegate, you struggle to maintain meaningful contact with the people you have delegated to.

I realized this problem in my own setup, when I was confronted with the same story over and over again. Either people were frustrated with not having enough responsibility, or they were complaining about not having enough contact for guidance. It felt for them as if we gave responsibility without ever following up or encouraging again.

It is as if I am in a constant struggle between two opposite ends of an evil pendulum.

That was until I became aware of Hersey-Blanchard’s contingency model – or situational leadership. They have produced a workable model where you neither have to be an Authoritarian leader that micro manage people, or follow a Laissez-faire “hands off” style. The situation (both the task and the people involved) literally predicts what leadership style will be most suitable. Their graph effectively maps what is needed.

To understand the graph, you actually need to read it backwards – or from right to left. On the X-axis you have the amount of guidance you will need to give. The Y-axis shows the support that the person needs from you. Obviously, the more guidance is needed, the more authoritarian you need to be. The higher the support, the more democratic you need to be.


In the S1 quadrant, your guidance needs to be high. The follower is unable to do the task as you would like it to be done, and probably even unwilling. The decision style that is best suited for this scenario is authoritarian.


In the S2 quadrant, the follower is now perhaps more willing but still unable to do the task efficiently. High directive and high support is needed from your side. The relationship will take the form of a coach or a mentor and mentee.


In the S3 Quadrant, the follower has attained skills by now and is able, but unsure or insecure. Although the leader’s guidance will be low, support will still be high. Support will take the form of encouragement and collaboration. At this stage, the follower starts making decisions on his/her own, but with the input of the leader.


Lastly in the S4 quadrant, the follower is now not only willing, but also able to do the task at hand. The leader’s responsibility will be to observe and to monitor. Your role will be of low guidance and even low support is necessary. The decisions will now be made exclusively by the follower, as he/she has grown into the role and we need to trust the person with the accompanying responsibility.


This leadership model had opened up several ideas to the way I do ministry. I trust it will help you as well!


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