Situations to use Transactional Leadership in Team

Transactional leadership occurs when the leader rewards the team member, depending on the adequacy of the team member’s performance. Transactional leadership depends on contingent reinforcement, either positive contingent reward (CR) or the more negative active or passive forms of management-by-exception (MBE-A or MBE-P). [1]

Here are some situations I can think of.

* Use CR – when you found team member is motivated with some kind of reward & you can arrive a mutual agreement with your team member on reward he is getting after the work done is expected fashion.

* Use MBE-A – when you don’t want a mistake/error done by your team member propagates further that may jeopardize the project. You actively get the statuses, problems, challenges, develop processes, ensure adherence of project processes, conduct reviews, etc so that no error goes beyond certain time period. This really required when you manages a critical project & have time to do micro management. This is used when team member is having less experience in the work area. MBE-A may be required and effective in some situations, such as when safety is paramount in importance[2].

* Use MBE-P – when you don’t really care much about the errors or deviance as soon as it occurred. You have some time to correct them & they are not critical. This is followed when team member is having good experience in the area of working.
Leaders sometimes must practice passive MBE when required to supervise a large number of subordinates who report directly to the leaders[2]


1. Significant Behaviors of Transactional Leadership –
2. Transformational Leadership (Second Edition) BY Bernard M. Bass, Ronald E. Riggio, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.,2006

Knowing & Switching Leadership Styles for Managerial Effectiveness

We discussed few topics like ‘What is Leadership?‘ and ‘Situational Leadership‘. Research on Leadership style model are usually based on orientation between Task behavior & Human Relationship behavior.

Basically, knowing these leadership styles helps us in adopting them in different situations. Though there could be one predominant leadership style as a whole for a person, he/she cannot just stick on to a particular leadership style always. Switching between the leadership styles is necessary in different project management situations to achieve success.

Like Hersey & Blanchard Situational Leadership model, William Reddin introduced a model of leadership style containing four basic types, namely:

1. High relationship orientation & high task orientation is called as INTEGRATED TYPE.

2. High relationship orientation & low task orientation is called as RELATED TYPE.

3. Low relationship orientation & high task orientation is called as DEDICATED TYPE.

4. Low relationship orientation & low task orientation is called as SEPARATED TYPE.

Further, by measuring the level of effectiveness of each style Reddin developed this basic model into eight leadership styles. The modified model is called “The 3-D Theory of Managerial Effectiveness.”

3-D Theory of Managerial Effectiveness

The below table shows the Less Effective & More Effective Leadership styles in each basic types. Even we can map the H&B Situational Leadership styles (Telling, Selling, Facilitating & Delegating) to Reddin 3D Theory model.

Less Effective Basic types More Effective
Deserter SEPARATED Bureaucratic
Missionary RELATED Developer
Autocratic DEDICATED Benevolent Autocratic
Compromiser INTEGRATED Executive




This is essentially a hand-off or laisser-faire approach : avoidance of any involvement or intervention which would upset the status; assuming a neutral attitude toward what is going on during the day; looking the other way to avoid enforcing rules; keeping out of the way of both supervisors and subordinates; avoidance of change and planning. The activities undertaken (or initiated) by managers who use this approach tend to be defensive in nature. People who achieve high scores may be adverse to managerial tasks or may have begun to lose interest in such tasks. This does not necessarily mean they are bad managers; they just try to maintain the status quo and avoid “rocking the boat”.



This is a legalistic and procedural approach: adherence to rules and procedures; acceptance of hierarchy of authority; preference of formal channels of communication. High scorers tend to be systematic. They function at their best in well structured situations where policies are clear, roles are well defined and criteria of performance are objective and universally applied. Because they insist on rational systems, these managers may be seen as autocratic, rigid or fussy. Because of their dependence on rules and procedures, they are hardly distinguished from autocratic managers.




This is an affective (supportive) approach. It emphasizes congeniality and positive climate in the work place. High scorers are sensitive to subordinates’ personal needs and concerns. They try to keep people happy by giving the most they can. Supportive behavior represents the positive component of this style. It has, however, a defensive counterpart. They may avoid or smooth over conflict, feel uncomfortable enforcing controls and find difficulty denying requests or making candid appraisals.



This is the objective counterpart of the missionary style. Objective in a sense that concern for people is expressed professionally: subordinates are allowed to participate in decision making and are given opportunities to express their views and to develop their potential. Their contribution is recognized and attention is given to their development. High scorers are likely to have optimistic beliefs about people wanting to work and produce. Their approach to subordinates is collegial: they like to share their knowledge and expertise with their subordinates and take pride in discovering and promoting talent.




This is a directive and controlling approach. Concern for production and output outweighs the concern for workers and their relationship. Managers who score high tend to be formal. They assign tasks to subordinates and watch implementation closely. Errors are not tolerated, and deviation from stated objectives or directives is forbidden. They make unilateral decisions and feel no need to explain or justify them. They minimize interaction with people, or limit communication to the essential demand of the task at hand. They believe in individual responsibility and consider group meetings a waste of time. They tend to be formal, straightforward and critical. For that reason, they are likely to be perceived as cold and arbitrary, particularly by subordinates who have strong need for support and reassurance.



This is the communicative counterpart of the autocratic style. It is still directive and interventionist. High scorers are seen as task masters who devote themselves comfortably to the accomplishment of production objectives. They enjoy tackling operational problems and may have less patience dealing with problems of human relation. They keep in touch with subordinates, instructing them, answering their questions and helping them with operational problems. They structure daily work, set objectives give orders or delegate with firm accountability. They would not hesitate to discipline or reprimand, but do that fairly and without antagonizing their subordinates. They meet group needs but ignore one-to-one personal relationship.




Express appreciation of both human relations orientation and task orientation. They however admit to difficulties in integrating them. Therefore they may vacillate between task requirements and demand for human relations. In order to alleviate immediate pressures, they may resort to compromise solutions or expediency. They may be sensitive to reality considerations which stand in the way, and willing to delay action for whatever reason, internal or external. Their realistic assessment of situations may explain why they do not use freely the approach they actually prefer, that is, the Executive approach.



This approach integrates task orientation and human relations orientation in response to realistic demand. It is best described as consultative, interactive, and problem solving approach. This approach is called for in managing operations which require exploration of alternative solutions, pooling different resources, and integrating opposing perspectives. They favor a team approach in problem solving, planning and decision making. They stimulate communication among subordinates, thus obtain collective ideas and suggestions. Managers who use this approach are usually perceived as good motivators who tend to deal openly with conflict and who try to obtain collective commitment.

There is a time and place for all of the leadership styles. If a leader has one tactic that he or she relies on almost all the time, it is almost certain to develop into a pattern or behavior, in other words a style.

The leader’s selection of a particular style in a situation will depend on:

· the individual personality of the person or persons led

· the frame of mind of the person or persons led

· the leader’s own current frame of mind

· the leader’s goals or objectives

· the relative power between the leader and those led

· the importance of time in the action the leader wants taken

· the type of commitment required to complete the desired action

· rules, laws, or authority of the leader in the situation

What is Situational Leadership® means?

Around the world, there is always a debate going on about leadership styles. There is no one-size fits all leadership style exist. Successful leaders are those who can adapt their behavior to meet the demands of their own unique situation. This is called ‘Situational Leadership®‘.

General human tendency in decision making differs time to time and depends on the circumstances. Applying this general behavior into leadership gives excellent results in achieving the success & one becomes Leadership Champions.

Below are the lines that explains briefly about Situational Leadership®. These lines are from HOW TO CHOOSE A LEADERSHIP PATTERN by Robert Tannenbaum and Warren Schmidt.

“The successful leader is one who is able to behave appropriately. … If direction is in order … able to direct; if considerable participative freedom is called for … able to provide such freedom.”

The concept of Situational Leadership® was proposed by Ken Blanchard (who later wrote the famous – One Minute Manager book) and Paul Hersey. According to them – “Leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an individual or group in efforts toward goal achievement in a given situation”

The Blanchard & Hersey Situational Leadership® Model helpful to managers in diagnosing the demands of their situation has been developed as a result of extensive research.

Situational Leadership® model is based on relationship among the amount or the extent of:

  • Direction (task behavior) a leader gives
  • Socio-emotional support (relationship behavior) a leader provides
  • “Readiness” level that followers exhibit on a specific task, function, activity, or objective that the leader is attempting to accomplish through the individual or group

Task behavior is the extent to which a leader engages in one-way communication by explaining what each follower is to do, as well as when, where, and how tasks are to be accomplished.

Relationship behavior is the extent to which a leader engages in two-way communication by providing socio-emotional support, “psychological strokes”, and facilitating behaviors.

Readiness is the ability and willingness of a person to take responsibility for directing his own behavior in relation to a specific task to be performed.

According to this model, as the level of readiness of the follower continues to increase in terms of accomplishing a specific task, the leader should begin to reduce task behavior and increase relationship behavior. This should be the case until the individual or group reaches a moderate level of readiness.

As the follower begins to move to an above average level of readiness, it becomes appropriate for the leader to decrease not only task behavior but relationship behavior as well. Now the follower is not only ready in terms of the performance of the task but also is confident and committed. People at this level of readiness see a reduction of close supervision and an increase in delegation by the leader as a positive indication of trust and confidence.

They define four leadership styles:

1. Telling/Directing Leader — a leader provides detailed instruction and closely coaches the follower.
2. Selling/Coaching Leader — a leader provides explanations and principles, engages the follower in a discussion of the work, and coaches as needed.
3. Facilitating/Counseling Leader — the leader assists the follower with goal clarification and ideas, then coaches as needed
4. Delegating Leader — the goal is clarified and the work turned over to the follower.

Situational Leadership Styles

Any or all of these leadership styles can be used effectively, depending on the readiness of the follower as determined by:

• The ability of the person to do the job (Skill) —has the necessary knowledge and skills to do the work.
• The willingness of the person to do the job (Will) —has the necessary confidence and commitment to do the work.

Following picture shows various stages of Follower’s Readiness/Maturity Level based on Skill & Will.



Four stages of follower readiness according to Hersey & Blanchard are as follows:

* People who are both unable and either unwilling or too insecure to take responsibility to do something. They are neither competent nor confident. (M1)

* People who are having less skill level, but willing to do necessary job task falls into this M2 category. They are motivated but currently lack of the appropriate skills.(M2)

* People who are able but unwilling or too apprehensive to do what the leader wants (M3)

* People who are both able and willing to take responsibility and do what is asked of them (M4)

We can have better understanding of the Maturity Level & Situational Leadership® Model by integrating their views.

As followers reach high level of readiness, the leader responds by not only continuing to decrease control over activities, but also by continuing to decrease relationship behavior as well.

* At stage M1, followers need clear and specific directions. So the appropriate style is high-task and low-relationship or Telling/Directing (S1).

* At stage M2, both high-task and high-relationship behavior is needed or Selling/Coaching (S2). The high-task behavior compensates for the follower’s lack of ability, and the high-relationship behavior tries to get the followers psychologically to “buy into” the leader’s desires.

* Stage M3 represents motivational problems that are best solved by a supportive, non-directive, participative style. The right approach would be low-task and high-relationship or Facilitating/Counseling (S3).

* At stage M4, the leader doesn’t have to do much because followers are both willing and able to do the job and take responsibility. The followers need neither task directions nor motivational support, thus low-task and low-relationship style or Delegating (S4) work best for this kind of subordinates.

Note: Situational Leadership® is a registered trademark of the Center for Leadership Studies,

More articles on Situational Leadership®

1. variations in situational leadership® models

2. Knowing and switching leadership styles for managerial effectiveness

3. What, why and How of delegating