“Provide a critical analysis of the relationship of the Project Management Planning Model discussed in class and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model.”


“Kenneth Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model”

Kenneth Blanchard and Hensley have made significant studies on leadership style and they suggest that managers need to use different leadership styles for different situations. The Situational Leadership designed for understanding the situation that the manager and team by both side. Blanchard’s Leadership style allows manger to analyze the needs of the situation and then use the most suitable leadership style. Also, the idea behind this leadership style is about understanding team members’ competences, their commitment to their tasks and leading them by using suitable leadership style. Although, Blanchard’s leadership style requires high managerial abilities to manage vary situations and team member’s attitudes towards different situations. Managers may even lead the same employee one way sometimes and other way in different situation at other times. ( Blanchard, 2000)

The Blanchard and Hersey’s Situational Leadership style focuses on the amount of direction and support that the leader gives to his/her followers, so the model looks like a simple matrix in terms of this focus. Thus, every progress follows the previous one in this leadership style matrix. However, it must be considered that there are some questions about this model:

Is Blanchard’s Leadership Styles suitable for different type of organizational structures? Or does it work for every situation and for every organisation which has got different organizational culture? Before discussing these questions Blanchard’s Leadership Style should be critically analysed. Also there are other scholar models which can be considered as alternative to this model such as Fiedler’s Contingency Model, Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model. (J.M Nicolas, 1990)


Blanchard’s Leadership Style has different levels of managing team members and this starts with directing, coaching and follows supporting, delegating. Moreover, each stage has different of leading and directing level.

Leadership Behaviour

S1 – Telling / Directing

In this leadership style, the leader is high task focus and low relationship focus. Leaders supervise the “followers” closely and give definition of the roles and tasks to them. The communication is mostly one-way so the leader makes the decisions and announces it to the team. Team members are enthusiastic and committed but they are also lack of confidence in this stage, therefore they need supervision and direction to start.

S2 – Selling / Coaching

The leaders are high task focus and high relationship focus. Thus, they still define tasks and roles for the team members, but also the consider team members suggestions and ideas for the situations that they are in. The communication becomes much more two-way but the decisions still made by the leaders. Team members have competences but still need directions and supervision because of their lack of commitment. Leaders must support and praise them to build self-esteem and involvement in decision making process, moreover this helps to restore their commitment.

S3 – Participating / Supporting

The leaders are low task focus and high relationship focus. The team members need support but not direction, so the leaders allocate tasks and processes to the followers. The leaders pass daily decisions, although they just facilitate and take part in decisions because of lack confidence and motivation.

S4 – Delegating

The leaders are low task focus and low relationship focus. In this situation the followers make the decisions and they decide when the leader will be involved in these decisions. The team members have competence and commitment so they are able to work without given direction and support by leaders.

These leadership styles are not always work perfectly so the leader must to know when and how he/she needs to change his/her leadership style according to the situation. Therefore, leaders need to know which Situational Leadership is suitable for the situation. Although, followers are important functional elements of this matrix so their commitment and competences can be analyse in 4 different quadrants.

Development Level of the Follower

D1: Low Competence, High Commitment -“Enthusiastic Beginner”

Team members are generally had the confidence or motivation to do the job but they have lack of the specific abilities and skills required for the job. They are enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity to do something.

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D2: Some Competence, Low Commitment – “Disillusioned Learner”

The followers have the skills that required but they are not able to take decisions without leaders help because of the situation may be new to them. Their motivation and enthusiasm can be easily drop when they face some difficulties.

D3: High Competence, Variable Commitment -“Reluctant Contributor”

The team members are capable to do something and they have enough experience about the job, but still may lack the confidence to do something themselves or they don’t have the motivation to do it well.

D4:High Competence, High Commitment -“Peak Performer”

The team members are comfortable with their own ability to do the job well and they are experienced. They sometimes even are more skilled than the leader. They enjoy the tasks and they are more effective in the tasks.

As it can be seen clearly the development levels of followers are also situational similar to the leadership styles. A team member could be skilled, motivated and confident for one part of the job, but could be less competent for another part of the job. According to Blanchard and Hersey, the Leadership Style (S1 – S4) of the leader must correspond to the Development level (D1 – D4) of the follower so it s the leader who adapts the right style for the situation. The most importantly the team member’s development level will rise to D4, to everyone’s benefit, so the process in starts from over viewing per employees tasks and follows by deciding managerial style and assessing the employee development in this leadership style.

Strengths and Limitations of the Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model

Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model is easy to understand and easy to use but there are some limitations in practice. The model fails to distinguish between management and leadership. Leadership is not only about making decisions, it is about inspiring the followers and the way leaders do that may vary. Hence, decision making style does not reduced according to the changes in leadership style. The model exclusively focuses on who the person in charge does and puts the team members in the second place which can’t be proved. The model works for certain assumptions:

Leaders should adapt their leadership style to follower maturity level which is based on their competence and motivation.

The model explains four leadership styles that match the four combinations of high/low willingness.

These four different leadership styles require greater or less focus on the task needed or the relationship between the leader and the team members.

Presumes that leadership style is about how to make decisions.

“Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model and its relationship with Project Management Planning Model.”

Projects are too complex and project lifecycles too short so projects need to be planned well and managed by not just managers but also by teams. Therefore, teams must be formed to make sure that planning is more precise and that the project team is committed to the end result. Project teams create various leadership challenges and communications and motivational skills are essential throughout the life of the project. Successful project leaders are effective and strong leaders, highly competent planners. Moreover project team leaders need to understand the technical aspects of their projects; know how to use the appropriate skills for planning and controlling projects teams; and effectively lead teams. Since project leaders typically work across functional lines, they must manage conflict in teams and lead individuals. They also need to communicate effectively to sell their ideas, to influence team behaviour, to gain individual’s commitment, and to recommend adjustments in project scope when it’s needed. Managing conflict and overcome resistance to change are important as much as taking decisions so Blanchard’s situational Leadership style can apply in some of the aspects of projects management. Projects leadership need to have skills to manage difficult team members and to develop new strategies for handling personal agendas. Blanchard’s model is not fulfilling from the aspects of leading projects and people. (R. Gordon, 1990)


Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model does not meet the needs of a projects success, although project life cycle starts with initiation and then follows by planning ,project execution and control finally ends with project closure so leadership skills need to be analysed from different aspects of these stages, however the model analysis the leadership from one aspect (decision making). However, project management planning model requires having leadership skills linking to translating strategic initiatives to strategic success. In the short period of projects life cycle project leaders need to act instantly according to the project flow such as change management, risk management. Project leadership skills need to be more about managing communication and managing conflict instead of focused on decision making.

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“Critically evaluate how the stages of team formation related to the success or failure of project leadership?”


Team work success is one of the milestones for project leadership, so the project successes rely on managers who can manage to facilitate group problem solving and focus on group productivity. In today’s world group success become more important than individual task achievements so the success of the project leadership depends on how well the team formed. The team success can be measured by improvements in quality and productivity of the team on a continuous basis. System that can pit player against team player must be changed so that the priority of each team member becomes accomplishment of the team’s mission. To do that, team leaders and managers must to give great deal of control to their team members. Therefore, it is really important to pay attention to team formation stages as it is the biggest affect on the success of the leadership. (Blanchard.2000)

The most effective team’s characteristics can be define with the sharing information openly within the team, participating in the team’s task, encouraging each other and using all of the team’s resources as much as possible. Team development stages are forming, storming, norming and performing. To build up a successful team leaders must pay attention to the each stage in team development period. Successful project leadership helps new team members to perform effectively and quickly within Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing development stages.

The team formation takes time, the members and leader has to pass through different team building stages. Although, there are some difficulties for leaders and team from the being a group of strangers to becoming a united team with a common goal. Understanding the team development stages definitely affects leadership success.

Stages of Team Formation

Bruce Tuckman suggests that teams can be built in four stage process which is phrase like “forming, storming, norming and performing in 1965. In these stages members learn how they work together and what their responsiblities are. Some of the members may observe as they attempt to determine what’s expected from them and some others may engaged to the team quickly. Team leader needs to balance team member’s reactions to the situations and controls the situation, in this point the leadership success depends on the successful team developments.


Firstly teams go through “Forming “stage and members may not know each other in this stage. Team members are polite, positive or some of them anxious as the members don’t their responsibilities and what the team work is involved. Leader plays a dominant role at this stage: other members’ roles and responsibilities are less clear.

Forming stage is usually short and team roles and purposes not yet defined. There may be discussions about how the team will work at this stage and that can be frustrating for some members who simply want to get involved with the team task.


After first stage, soon team starts forming in a shape and team moves in to storming phase. The way of team work starts to be defined while the roles and positions are clarified. Team leader’s authority may be challenged as there might be a competition for position and roles. The leader needs to be aware of conflicts between team members. As the ways of working start to be defined some members may feel uncomfortable with the way of team work or some members may feel overwhelmed. by how much there is to do, or uncomfortable with the approach being used. Moreover, some members even start questioning the goal of the team and resisting their roles on their tasks. In this stage many teams fail because of lack of communication between members and also team members may even jostle for position. (Matthew Batchelor)

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After forming stage the team moves into a norming stage and this stage hieratical structure of the team established. Team members start to respect each other and accept the leader’s authority as a leader. Mutual trust and confidence starts growing between leader and team members. In this stage team members know each other and they may even socialize together. They help each other and build up constructive criticism. The team members more committed to the team goal and good progress can be seen within the team.

There is sometimes backward progress between storming and norming stages. The team members may lapse back when they receive a new task but it is soon or later dies out.


This stage leads the team to hard work and progress together towards the shared visions and goals. Team already supported by the processes and structure that have been set up by the leader during the previous stages. In this stage any of individual’s action can’t affect performing culture. The members may join or leave the team without affecting the performance of the team. Hence, being a leader is much easier than the other stages because the leader is able to delegate much of the work in this stage.

At the end of the project team leader need to concern both team’s goal and members. “Mourning” is the stage that team breaks up because of different reasons. This stage is important in reaching personal goals and team goals.

The break up of the team can be hard for members who like routine or who have developed close working relationships with other team members, particularly if their future roles or even jobs look uncertain.


Team leader’s aim is helping team to reach their goals and sustain effectiveness of the team. Project leader need to change his/her approach according to the stage team in.

The most important thing for Project manager to identify which stage of the team development his/her team is. Also, project leadership style needs to change at the right time. Project leader must know what needs to be done to move towards the next stages, and help the team do that effectively. Project leadership style success depends on regular reviews of where the teams are, and adjust his/her style of behaviour and leadership approach which team has reached.

Project leader needs plenty of time to coach the team members and take them to the next stages. The project leadership failures and successes are all about them performance so through the “Forming”, “Storming” and “Norming” stages if the project leadership style selected wrong the this may cause serious problems in the project processes. (

Project leadership success can be measure with how much progress should expected towards the project teams and by when against that it can be measured if the project leadership could achieve the targeted success level or not. Project leader needs to give trust and confidence to the memberships through the “Forming”, “Storming” and “Norming” stages before they starts “Performing”, If the leader cant manage to do that then there may not be much progress can be achieved during “Performing” stage. Communication between Project leader and the team is really important in any of these stages because team progress against their targets give them the idea of doing something worth while. This type of forming can not be apply to all teams and individuals may not behave in the same way, however many do. Project leadership success can be significant when the right leadership style and forming stage chosen by leaders.


Project leadership failures and successes, they are both a result of right or wrong team forming in the projects. Individuals are important as much as teams to the project leaders, so high performing team can make both sides happy as the teams are always can achieve more than individuals can on their own. Being part of a high-performing team can take patience and needs professionalism to get to successes.

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