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Situational leadership theory: a test from a leader-follower congruence approach

Geir Thompson (Department of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)
Lars Glasø (Department of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 11 June 2018

Issue publication date: 21 June 2018

22741

Abstract

Purpose

Empirical tests of Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory (SLT) have demonstrated that the assessment of follower competence and commitment, critical contextual features dictating optimal leadership style, poses several problems in testing the validity of this theory. As well, most previous studies have used leader rating as the only information source in making these assessments. The purpose of this paper is to use the degree of agreement between leader rating and follower self-rating to determine follower competence and commitment, and consequently an optimal leadership style.

Design/methodology/approach

Survey data collected from both supervisors and employees in business organizations in Norway were analyzed to test the predictions put forward in SLT.

Findings

The results show that SLT principles are supported when leader rating and follower self-rating are congruent. However, no support was obtained for Blanchard’s suggestion to apply followers’ self-ratings of competence and commitment in the case of discrepant ratings of follower development level. But data do support the contention that leader assessment would be a better basis for providing followers with appropriate direction and support.

Originality/value

So far SLT has been a very popular but as yet under-researched theory. An important contribution of the present study is by making SLT an evidence-based theory, as opposed to just being intuitively sound. As such, the authors think SLT in an updated “convergent” version should be applied in organizations and taught in leadership development programs.

Keywords

Citation

Thompson, G. and Glasø, L. (2018), "Situational leadership theory: a test from a leader-follower congruence approach", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 39 No. 5, pp. 574-591. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-01-2018-0050

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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