Leadership Styles – The Hersey-Blanchard Model

leadership ayesha aziz

The Hersey-Blanchard leadership style model is based on situational aspect of the leadership. The growth and development of the employees are the dominant factor. This model describes the leadership styles as selling, telling, participating and delegating. The theory implies that the adaptability of leadership styles is largely dependent on the situation and the characteristics of the followers and should have the flexibility to meet the shifting requirements of the situations and employees.

Critical factors – Leadership styles

The critical factors forming the basis of this theory are:

Task behavior

Task behavior, the degree to which leader explains the responsibilities and duties to the employees or a group of employees. This type of leadership informs people of their tasks and duties, how to perform those duties, when and where and who is responsible for the task. The leader’s role is to communicate such information.

Relationship behavior

Relationship behavior defines the degree to which a leader initiates and employs back and forth communication supported by active listening, support and facilitation. The leader provides the required socio-emotional support to the employees.


Maturity is the degree to which an individual can be responsible for his behavior. The level of maturity of individuals vary with the task or objective assigned to them .

This theory defines leadership styles to be either directive or supportive. Directive behavior engages in one way communication, clear definition of roles and responsibilities and monitoring of the performance. Supportive behavior is characterized by two way communication, providing support and facilitation and empowering employees by letting them participate in decision making. 

leadership styles

Defining the four leadership styles

The theory results in defining four styles of leadership.

Directing leadership style

Directing leader provides clear directions and instructions to the employees.

Selling leadership style

Selling style results in two way communications between the leader and the employee, the powers of making decisions still rest with the leadership but the communication helps in improving confidence level and motivation of the employees.

Participative / supportive leadership style

Participative or supportive style of leadership allows participation of the employees in the process of decision making process and do not expect specific directions from the leader.

Delegating leadership style

Delegating style is best used in situations when employees have the ability to take up responsibility and direct themselves to achieve their tasks and goals.

Hersey and Blanchard model relies heavily on the leader assessing the maturity level of the employee in order to choose appropriate style of leadership. Ayesha believes that with increase in the level of maturity the leader should decrease the task behavior and increase relationship behavior.