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Tannenbaum and Schmidt's Leadership Model

Tannenbaum and Schmidt's Leadership Model

Tannenbaum and Schmidt's Leadership Model

Leadership styles are not one-size-fits-all. The choice of leadership style to be used depends on the context in which leaders find themselves. The context comprises three parts: the leaders, the followers, and the current circumstances that affect them.

Leadership styles vary across a wide continuum.

Leadership styles can be seen as a continuum, ranging from the "Total control leadership style" to the "Loose leadership style". The former involves the leader making all decisions, while the latter involves delegating decisions to subordinates. However, there are situations that call for a blend of the two styles, depending on the followers' skills, knowledge, experience, and personalities.

Followers vary across a wide continuum.

Followers also vary along a continuum, with some being hardworking, educated, intelligent, honest, cooperative, and sensible, while others are not. In selecting the appropriate leadership style, leaders need to consider the followers' qualities and tailor their approach accordingly.

Situations also vary across a wide continuum.

Moreover, situations also vary along a continuum, and the same person may require different leadership styles in different contexts. For instance, a highly educated and intelligent person may still require a different leadership approach in a different setting.

Leaders must be flexible and be able to adapt to the situation at hand. They need to be aware of the context, including the followers' qualities and the current circumstances, and choose the appropriate blend of leadership styles.

The many blends of Control and Loose leadership styles have been classified into five concepts:

  • Tells - Where the followers are told exactly what to do and how to do it, which is total control leadership style
  • Sells - Where followers are told what to do and the reasons why, and an attempt is made to have followers understand what they are doing.
  • Consults - Where followers are invited to contribute their opinions and may affect the leadership decisions.
  • Shares - Where leaders and followers work together collaboratively to jointly make decisions.
  • Delegate - Where followers are left alone by leaders to act in accordance with their best judgement, which is loose leadership style

Good leaders adapt themselves to the situation.

Good leaders have the ability to adapt themselves to the situation they find themselves in. They possess a keen awareness of the circumstances that surround them, and they take into consideration their followers' skills, knowledge, experience, and personalities when selecting the appropriate leadership style.

Effective leaders understand that different situations require different leadership styles. They have a toolbox of leadership styles and techniques, and they are skilled at selecting the right tool for the right job. By doing so, they can create a positive environment that inspires their team to achieve the desired results.

Moreover, good leaders are able to seamlessly switch between different leadership styles depending on the circumstances and the qualities of the people facing them. They know when to be directive and when to be supportive, when to give autonomy and when to be hands-on.

They also understand that leadership is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process. They constantly evaluate the effectiveness of their leadership style and make changes as necessary to achieve their goals.

Leadership Skills Training

In summary, good leaders possess the ability to adapt themselves to the situation, select the appropriate leadership style, and seamlessly switch between different styles as needed. They create a positive environment that inspires their team to achieve the best results from their team and lead them to success, and they are committed to continuous improvement.

If you would like to improve your Leadership Skills, we recommend you attend our two-day Leadership and Management Training Course.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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