Book review: “Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager" by Ken Blanchard, Susan Fowler and Laurence Hawkins.


Situational Leadership/Self Leadership

The Situational Leadership Model:

The Situational Leadership Model was created by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. Originally, they called "Life cycle theory of leadership" and then renamed it to "Situational Leadership Theory". Later both formed their own companies and developed the model separately. Hersey called it Situational Leadership Model while Blanchard termed it Situational Leadership II Model.

The import of leadership styles and situational leadership fully dawned on me when I read the book “Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard, Susan Fowler and Laurence Hawkins.

          The model emphasises on leadership style and readiness level of the group or individual trainee. It says there are many leadership styles. No leadership style is good or bad, but it is contextual. Primary Leadership styles are TellingSellingParticipating and Delegating. Each to be selected based on readiness level, also termed maturity level or development level, of the recipient. There are four levels of maturity raging from low (M1), Moderate (M2, M3) to High (M4). The leadership style should match the maturity level of the group to be most effective.

Ken Blanchard and his team improved on the original concept of Situational Leadership and introduced the Situational Leadership II Model or SL II Model. The model is explained in the book “Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager”.

Steve, an advertising executive, is disillusioned, as he has failed measurably in his current assignment, which he considered a promotion. Steve had never handled such a big assignment and was found wanting. He is likely to lose his job. One day he meets Cayla in a Café who introduces him to various self-leadership lessons and helps him regain his confidence.

Cayla explains to Steve that there are three aspects of effective Self Leadership:

Challenge Assumed constraints
(assumptions that limit you)
They can be your beliefs, opinions about something or someone. Not realizing your power could be your greatest assumed constraint.”

Activate your points of power
There many forms of power points. Knowledge, Position, Task, Personal, Relationship. “You need to know the nature of your strengths – your power – before you can lead yourself.”
Be proactive to get what you want

  1. Prioritize your most important goals. 
  2. Diagnose your development level on each of them. 
  3. Determine the leadership style you need for them. 

She explains that to master something new you must diagnose your level of development. Understanding your readiness level is vital. It allows you to determine the type of mentorship (leadership) you require for achieving your goals and be successful.    

The Development level is based on two factors:


Measured by
Factor building / development needs

Level of Competence
Knowledge and Skill
Deciding, teaching, observing, and providing feedback
Level Commitment
Motivation and Confidence
Listening, involving, facilitating, and encouraging

"If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before."
- J. Loren Norris

       Cayla says, “When your competence is low, you need direction; when your commitment is low, you need support.” People go through development stages when they learn to master something new. The Development Continuum has four stages – Enthusiastic beginner, Disillusioned Learner, Capable but Cautious Performer, and Self-reliant Achiever. Cayla explained that you must know your present state of development and “think about what it will take you to get to the next level of development”.

Steve pondered, “What goals and tasks am I responsible for as an account executive?” He realises that his new role was “very different from what his role had been .. yet he had considered it the same.”  He writes his goals / tasks and his state of development along with his requirement,


My Development level:

I Need:

          Steve could now clearly understand his requirements for achieving his goals. He could identify what directive or supportive behaviour he will need for moving forward, finishing the tasks and accomplishing the goals. He could spot the assumed constraints that acted as hurdles and the power points he needed to activate achieving a particular goal.

He also understood that above exercise has to be done for each task or goal as you may be at a different level of development for each of them, having different assumed constraints, needing activation of different power points.

          Having taught Steve about development levels, Cayla introduces him to different types of leadership styles and makes him familiar with the Situational Leadership II Model. Cayla says, “For each development level, there is a
corresponding leadership style.”

Cayla apprised Steve about four Leadership Styles corresponding to the four Development levels.

Development Level

You need Leadership Style
Low Competence
High Commitment
Enthusiastic Beginner
High Direction
Low Support
Low to Some Competence
Low Commitment
Disillusioned Learner

High Direction
High Support
Moderate to High Competence
Variable Commitment
Capable but Cautious Performer

Low Direction
High Support
High Competence
High Commitment
Self-reliant Achiever

Low Direction
Low Support

Cayla then warned that Besides the development process, the learner must also carefully watch regression signs, lest he should move back to any previous stage.

Steve applies the concept of SL II Model in his working and emerges successful.

The book advises task / project should be broken into smaller components and then you should assess your capabilities for each part of the task, and diagnose what is your status and what stage of leadership you require for each part of the task. 
That means, instead of assessing your potential for handling an entire task or project, more practical and prudent approach is to assess it for its various key segments.  
We all know that we cannot be the best in all areas or fields. Essentially, when we are dealing with a new assignment requiring new/additional skill-sets. Assessing our development requirements is necessary for smooth sailing.

Questions for you:

  1.     Do you have a mentor? 
  2.     Have you assessed your development needs for moving to the next stage? 
  3.     Are you candid with yourself/your mentor about your development needs? 
  4.    Have you ever realised that you were using the wrong leadership style with your team? 
  5.     What points of power do you want to activate in yourself? 
  6.     What is your readiness level for achieving your next goal? 
  7.     Do you believe in the mantra “Love yourself, learn yourself”?


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