What's the best way to lead?

According to Ken Blanchard, it's best to adapt your leadership style to each person you lead in each specific situation.

Kamala Harris says,

Let's look at how and when to use each of the 4 leadership styles of the Situational Leadership model:

  1. Directing

  2. Coaching

  3. Supporting

  4. Delegating

Directive vs Supportive Behaviors

Each of the 4 leadership styles uses the ideal combination of directive and supportivebehaviors to help each person succeed in a specific situation.

Flaticon Icon Directive Behaviors

  • Decide

  • Teach

  • Observe

  • Feedback

Flaticon Icon Supportive Behaviors

  • Listen

  • Involve

  • Facilitate

  • Encourage

1. Directing

As the name implies, this leadership style requires more direction than support.

When to use it

Joe is very experienced at his job. However, you assign Joe a new task for the first time. He needs more direction to get started while he develops the confidence to make decisions on his own.

A man shaking his head. He says,

What to do

  • Show Joe how to complete the new task.

  • Monitor how well Joe completes the task.

  • Provide frequent feedback to help Joe grow his skills and build confidence.


Check all the situations when you would use Directing leadership.

2. Coaching

This leadership style requires a lot of direction and support.

When to use it

Kai is frustrated with a newer task that she's done before. She's not motivated because she's afraid of messing up. She needs both direction and support to gain experience and confidence.

A frustrated person saying,

What to do

  • Give Kai specific instructions to complete the task AND explain why she's doing it.

  • Get Kai involved by asking her for suggestions when making decisions.

  • Give Kai praise when she gets it right and feedback to get better.

3. Supporting

As opposed to directing, this leadership style requires more support than direction.

When to use it

You assign Paul a task he has done many times. He knows what he's doing, but he lacks confidence that he can do it well, which affects his motivation to get it done. He needs your support to motivate him and build his confidence.

A person says,

What to do

  • Tell Paul what the goal is, but there's no need to spell out how to get there.

  • Brainstorm with Paul how to do the task, but listen more to his ideas.

  • Encourage Paul along the way and tell him you know he can do it!


Check all the situations when you would use Supporting leadership.

4. Delegating

This leadership style requires little direction or support.

When to use it

Mel is experienced and has done this task lots of times without making mistakes. She's confident she can do it and committed to doing a good job. She doesn't need much from you.

Aidy Bryant saying,

What to do

  • Tell Mel the goal and let her shine.

  • Give Mel lots of praise to show you value her contributions.

  • Support Mel's growth by giving her more challenging projects.


You assign Mel a new task. She's done it a few times but is struggling with it. Which leadership style would work best to help her?

Take Action

We need you to lead us.

Don't lead everyone the same way. Use the right amount of direction and support for each person and situation to help them succeed.


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