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Janissa Dunchack

Sandi Lane
HCM 4630
11 September 2015
Leadership Theories, Models, and Styles
What does being a leader mean to you? By definition it is the
person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.
What unique characteristics and attributes do leaders contain that
make us want to follow their lead and respect their authority? As a
future healthcare executive, it is important to know these traits and
leadership styles in order to be successful in the business and medical
world. There are a number of different leadership theories, models,
and styles that could be useful towards becoming a successful leader.
The situational theory, contingency theory, and transformational
theory are the three leadership theories that stand out the most to me.
As a future healthcare executive, shadowing these leadership
approaches will help me become the successful leader I strive to be.
I believe that there is not one single best way to lead and
influence people. It is important to look at the situation at hand in
order to decide which style or method would work best. The situational
leadership theory has three steps before choosing a leadership style:
(1) identify the most important tasks or priorities (2) diagnose the
readiness level of the followers (3) decide the matching leadership
style. I like this theory, because it does not assume that one style of

leadership is appropriate for all environments and groups of people.

When identifying the most important tasks and priorities, there are a
few suggestions given through the situational theory. When a leader is
defining their priorities, it is important that they are fundamental and
specific. A leader needs to be specific enough so that their staff can
understand the vision and be fundamental so that the staff
understands the importance of the goal to the overall success of the
After establishing the goals and presenting them to your staff, a
leader needs to establish the level of readiness of their followers. Is
the staff on board with the goals and priorities presented? Are they
hesitant to follow your lead? Based on their response to the goals you
present, there are four leadership styles you can follow. The first is the
directing approach. This approach is most appropriate when your
staffs willingness to follow is low and their ability to follow is low.
When your staff is hesitant to follow, it is important for you to lead
directly and supervise closely. Decisions are made by the leader and
communication is one-way for this approach. Directing is often used
when the issue at hand is serious and changes need to be made in a
timely matter, whether or not the staff is on board. The leader must
maintain a directive position to make sure all objectives are complete.
This approach may also be appropriate when there is a change in the
organization and personnel are inexperienced. The next approach is

the coaching approach. This style can be used when the staff is willing
to make changes, but have a low ability to complete the task at hand.
This style still requires the leader to define roles and tasks clearly, but
communication can be two-way to allow input from the staff members.
Leaders here need to listen, advise, and help their followers to gain the
necessary skills to complete the task at hand. The supporting
approach can also be used. This approach is when the willingness is
low, but the staffs ability is high. This approach works well when the
follower can do the job but portrays a lack of commitment. Here the
leader needs to find ways to motivate the workers and build
confidence. This leadership style requires leaders to give praise to
their staff members and listen to them. Maybe rewarding the staff
when they complete the job can help motivate the staff to work harder.
Having a staff appreciation day could also help to motivate the staff
members. The last leadership style listed in the situational leadership
theory is the delegating approach. This is most appropriate when the
followers have high willingness and high ability. Leaders in this
situation should rely on allotting responsibility to the staff and trusting
their ability to complete the task at hand. This can be used when the
staff requires little supervision. This approach keeps the leader in
charge of making decisions and being the problem-solver, but the
execution is in the hands of the followers. Staff members here do not
need to be praised frequently, but their recognition is still encouraged.

I think the situational leadership theory can be very beneficial to me in

the future, as it teaches leaders to recognize whom they are working
with and the best approach to leading the group specifically. The four
stages of the situational leadership theory help to guide leaders to
move from one style of managing to the next as ability and willingness
increases in an organization. The healthcare field is constantly
changing. It is important as a leader to be able to adapt to changes in
processes and be able to lead your staff through changes efficiently
and the situational theory will help me to do just that.
Similar to the situational theory, contingency theory, in its most
basic form, also implies that there is no single best way to manage
people. The contingency theory states that effective management is
the leaders ability to select the most appropriate strategy from a list,
given the situation at hand. The contingency theory uses situational
determinants to decide which strategy is the best approach when
making a decision. Situational determinants are any factors that the
leader may consider when they are making a decision. For example,
the time period a leader has in order to make a decision may impact
whether or not the leader leads in an autocratic fashion or
participatory style. The underlying portion of the contingency theory
states that there is multiple ways, or courses of action, to attain a
given outcome. Stephen Strassers article states, The crucial element
in contingency theory is the managers ability to identify situational

determinants and then match the best managerial strategy to that

unique situational set.
Looking at health organizations specifically, the contingency
theory offers a number of benefits. This theory recognizes the
complexity of the health system and the multitude of individual and
situational variables that may be presented. The focus on situational
determinants helps account for both individual and situational
variables and recognizes the combinations and patterns these
variables may require when deciding a leaders response. Situational
determinants can be grouped into three categories: individual
differences among employees, different features of the health
organizations, and different features of the healthcare organizations
environment. There are also three different leadership styles and
strategies that can be applied: individual leadership styles (directive,
considerate, supportive, etc.), decision-making style (autocratic,
participative, etc.), and macro strategies (communication patterns,
reward system, etc.) There are a variety of different combinations of
situational determinants that will dictate the ideal management style
and strategy that should be applied in order to successfully reach your
goal. This is the general concept of the contingency theory.
As I mentioned before, the contingency theory is similar to the
situational theory, in the sense that they both look at the situation at
hand before choosing the best management style. The contingency

theory looks at your employees, your organization, and the

environment before choosing a managerial style, while the situational
theory looks at the ability and willingness of employees before
choosing a style. Learning about and applying the situational theory
and the contingency theory will be very beneficial to me as a future
healthcare executive, because these theories help to break down key
components of the environment you are working in in order to be a
successful leader. This theory could assist me if I ever become a
leader in a new organization or department. I appreciate how the
contingency theory helps to guide the leader into the correct
management style contingent upon their employees, organization, and
work environment specifically.
Lastly, the in-depth, extensiveness of the transformational theory
has potential to attribute great value to a leader. This leadership style
is characterized by three different behavioral patterns:
charismalinspirational, individual stimulation, and consideration for the
individual. The term charismalinspirational represents four sub
characteristics of the leader: visionary, courageous, value driven and
one who acts as a change agent. A leader who can live up to these
characteristics often have a very high popularity among the people
they lead. A leader who has individual stimulation is one who creates
awareness for current problems employees are facing. This awareness
is created through experience in the field, the capability to handle

uncertainty and complexity, and the ability to portray intellectual

courage. Lastly, a leader who shows consideration for the individual
usually has strong relationships and communication with their staff in
order to understand their followers. The leaders relationship with
his/her employees allows them to trust their staff and delegate
responsibilities according to skill and capability.
The transformational leadership style is important, because it
demonstrates the concern for people. When a leader is concerned for
people, staff satisfaction will increase and when staff members are
satisfied they often work more efficiently and effectively. Taking care
of the needs of your staff is a key point to being a successful leader,
because the care your hospital provides starts with your staff. The
more satisfied staff members are, the greater the productivity levels
will be. The transformational approach is said to take a human
resource-based outlook on management. It teaches leaders the
importance of looking at their followers as individuals and not just a
group as a whole. These leaders portray a vision of self-esteem, selfdetermination, and self-confidence. The transformational leadership
style contains the ingredients needed to facilitate change in todays
increasingly uncertain and turbulent environment. (Matey) By
building individual relationships and being people focused, the leader
can communicate their vision and goals and trust its employees ability

to perform to their highest potential to ensure the organizations goals

are met.
This kind of leader also knows how to motivate and encourage
their employees to be the best they can be and help them to grow
also. Transformational leaders look to benefit the organization and
therefore encourage other staff to reach their goals and grow in the
company. Transformational leadership, in conjunction with situational
and contingency leadership theories, can help me to become a people
focused, creative, and visionary leader one day who knows how to
adapt to different work environments in order to be successful.
The National Voluntary Public Health Accreditation Process is an
example of a public health agency that applies situational leadership in
its organizations. The agency says the situational theory allows
leaders to match their style to the needs of the workers. Developing a
clear mission and implementing a vision to guide progress is necessary
for successful leadership. Using the situational leadership approach,
leaders should adapt their style based on the willingness and capability
of their personnel. One case study observed a public health facility as
they went through the accreditation process in order to observe their
leadership. Following an interview with the director of the Kentucky
Department of Public Health, authors in one case study noted that the
organizations leadership styles closely matched the four stages listed
in the situational leadership style. When the director first started, she

noted that during the application stages, the agency staff was not too
familiar with the accreditation process. She stated that she had to take
a direct leadership approach and lead most activities and inform the
staff of the requirements and processes of the accreditation. After the
staff members learned more about the accreditation process for their
public health agency, the director took on more of a coaching
leadership style. The director was still highly directive, but was
building relationships, which helped to build staff willingness. By the
time the agency was ready to submit documentation for accreditation,
the staff had gained confidence about the process. The director
continued to explain, coach and persuade members of the importance
of the accreditation process and the importance of each staff
members individual role in the agencys effort. At the conclusion of
the PHAB (Public Health Accreditation Board) test and observance, the
agencys staff was able, willing, and confident concerning
accreditation. The director was then able to delegate the accreditation
coordination task to a new coordinator and she was then able to serve
as an engaged mentor in the process. The leadership style moved
from a directive approach to a delegating approach, ending in the
successful accreditation of the Kentucky Department of Public Health.
The study states, Accreditation of the agency was a direct result of the
leadership exhibited by the agencys senior leadership. (Rabarison) It
also stated, The use of a situational leadership approach contributed

to team development. (Rabarison) The situational leadership

approach allowed the leaders to meet the needs of the staff, thus
allowing them to become educated on the matter and build confidence
and ability.
Accepting the situational, contingency, and transformational
leadership techniques will be a crucial factor in my success as a
healthcare professional. Understanding people, the ever-changing
healthcare world, and the organization I work for will all be contributing
aspects of the leadership style most appropriate for me to use. Being
open-minded to trying different management styles will be necessary
as a healthcare manager. Leadership continues to be a highly
researched subject, yet remains one of the least understood
phenomena on earth. (Matey)

Hershey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model." Dictionary of
Strategy: Strategic Management A-Z (2004): n. pag. Web.
Matey, Douglas B. "Significance of Transactional and Transformational
Leadership Theory on the Hospital Manager." Hospital & Health
Services Administration, n.d. Web. 1991.
Rabarison, Kristina, Richard C. Ingram, and James W. Holsinger.
"Application of Situational Leadership to the National Voluntary

Public Health Accreditation Process." Frontiers in Public Health.

Frontiers Media S.A., 12 Aug. 2013. Web.
Rubino, Louis, Salvador Esparza, and Yolanda Reid Chassiakos. New
Leadership for Today's Health Care Professionals: Concepts and
Cases. N.d Print.
Strasser, Stephen. "The Effective Application of Contingency Theory in
Health Settings: Problems and Recommended Solutions." HCM
Review, n.d Web