Crisis Management: Situational Leadership Examples in Times of Crisis

situational leadership

Crisis Management: Situational Leadership Examples in Times of Crisis

You’re running a business, things are humming along, and then – boom! A crisis hits. It could be a data breach, a product recall, a natural disaster; anything that throws your carefully laid plans into disarray. In the midst of this chaos, strong leadership is more crucial than ever. But what kind of leadership works best during a crisis? Enter the hero of the hour: situational leadership.

You need a leader who can adapt their style to the specific situation and the people they’re working with. That’s the magic of situational leadership – it empowers leaders to flex their muscles and choose the approach that gets the best results under pressure.

What are the four types of situational leadership?

Moving forward, we’ll see how these types of situational leadership cater to specific needs

  • Directing (High Directive, Low Supportive): Imagine a barking drill sergeant. This style is all about clear instructions and close supervision. It’s ideal for crisis situations where team members are inexperienced or overwhelmed and need a firm hand to navigate the chaos.
  • Coaching (High Directive, High Supportive): Picture a supportive coach guiding a player. This style involves providing clear direction while also offering encouragement and support. It’s perfect for situations where team members have some experience but might need help developing their skills to overcome the crisis.
  • Supporting (Low Directive, High Supportive): Think of a cheerleader on the sidelines. This style focuses on building trust and empowering team members to take ownership. It works well for experienced team members who can handle the crisis with minimal guidance but might need a morale boost.
  • Delegating (Low Directive, Low Supportive): Imagine a hands-off manager trusting their team. This style is all about handing over the reins to skilled and experienced team members. It’s ideal for routine tasks or well-defined aspects of the crisis response where your team can shine independently.

Read: Expert Advice on Creating and Implementing Your Leadership Development Plan

Why Situational Leadership?

While situational leadership shines brightly in times of crisis, its benefits extend far beyond the occasional storm. Here’s why you should consider incorporating it into your everyday leadership style:

  • Improved Team Performance: By understanding your team members’ strengths and weaknesses, you can provide the right level of guidance and support to optimize their performance on any task.
  • Enhanced Employee Engagement: People are more likely to be engaged and motivated when they feel empowered to contribute their skills and take ownership. Situational leadership fosters this sense of ownership and builds trust within the team.
  • Developing Future Leaders: A supportive and coaching leadership style can help nurture the skills and confidence of less experienced team members, preparing them for future leadership roles.

What is the characteristic of a situational leader?

Situational leadership isn’t just about knowing the styles. It’s about having the flexibility to switch gears when needed. We can liken a situational leader to a chameleon, adapting their approach based on two key factors:

  • Competence: This refers to the team’s skillset and experience in handling the crisis. Are they new to the situation and need clear direction, or are they seasoned veterans who can take charge?
  • Commitment: This refers to the complexity of the crisis tasks and the team’s willingness to take them on. Are they unsure about their ability to handle the situation, or are they highly motivated and committed to finding a solution?

Related Article: Understanding Path Goal Theory: Leadership Types, Examples, and How to Apply It Effectively

What does situational leadership focus on? | Situational Leadership in Action

The following are real-world examples where situational leadership can save the day

Product Recall Crisis

A company discovers a safety issue with their flagship product. A directing style might be used initially to ensure a swift and coordinated product recall. Once the initial steps are taken, the leader might switch to a coaching style to help customer service representatives handle inquiries with empathy and expertise.

Cybersecurity Breach

A directing style might be used initially to contain the breach and secure sensitive data. As the situation progresses, the leader might shift to a supporting style to empower the IT team to investigate the source of the breach and implement long-term security measures.

Natural Disaster

During a natural disaster, a leader might use a directing style to ensure the safety of employees and coordinate immediate response efforts. Later, they might switch to a supporting style to encourage team members to help with recovery efforts and rebuild the business.

When to Use Situational Leadership

Knowing the styles and leader characteristics is great, but when do you actually put them into action? Here are some situations where situational leadership can be your secret weapon:

  • Rapid Response Scenarios: Crisis situations often demand quick thinking and decisive action. Situational leadership allows you to adapt your approach based on the immediate needs of the situation and the skill level of your team members.
  • Complex Problems: Crises rarely come with neat and tidy solutions. Situational leadership empowers you to shift gears and leverage the strengths of your team as the situation unfolds and new challenges arise.
  • Motivating Diverse Teams: Not all team members are created equal. Some might thrive on clear instructions, while others might need more autonomy and support. Situational leadership allows you to tailor your approach to each individual’s needs, fostering a more motivated and effective team during the crisis.
  • Building Resilience: Crises can be a major test of a team’s resilience. By using a situational leadership style that fosters trust and empowers team members, you can help them develop the skills and confidence needed to bounce back stronger.

Becoming a Situational Leadership Master: Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips to help you master this powerful approach:

  • Take the time to understand your team members’ skillsets, experience levels, and preferred working styles. This self-awareness will empower you to choose the most effective leadership style in any situation.
  • Maintain open lines of communication with your team. Encourage them to ask questions, voice their concerns, and provide feedback on your leadership style.
  • Be prepared to adapt your leadership style as the situation or your team’s needs evolve.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek feedback from your team on your leadership style. This can provide valuable insights and help you refine your approach over time.

See this: Understanding How Interpersonal Skills Drive Effective Leadership

Scorecard on Situational Leadership in Crisis

Leading during these turbulent times takes more than just barking orders. It requires a leader who can adapt, inspire, and empower – a master of situational leadership. But are you ready to step up and become that leader? Assess your abilities to become one using the scorecard provided below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is situational leadership, and how does it apply to crisis situations?

Situational leadership is a leadership style that adapts to the development level (competence) and commitment of your team members. In a crisis, it allows you to shift between directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating styles to best motivate and empower your team based on the specific situation and their capabilities.

How do I assess my team’s development level in a crisis?

Consider their experience with similar situations, their skillset relevant to the crisis, and their current level of motivation and confidence.

Isn’t a strong and direct leadership style always best in a crisis?

Not necessarily. While decisiveness is crucial, a purely directive approach can stifle creativity and demotivate your team. Situational leadership allows you to find the right balance between direction and support for optimal results.


Crisis or calm, situational leadership equips you with the adaptability and flexibility needed to lead your team through anything. By understanding the different styles, assessing your team’s capabilities, and adapting your approach as needed, you can empower your team to not just weather the storm, but emerge stronger and more resilient on the other side. So, the next time a crisis hits, remember – you have the power to be the leader who guides your team through the chaos and towards a brighter future.


Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Select the fields to be shown. Others will be hidden. Drag and drop to rearrange the order.
  • Image
  • SKU
  • Rating
  • Price
  • Stock
  • Availability
  • Add to cart
  • Description
  • Content
  • Weight
  • Dimensions
  • Additional information
Click outside to hide the comparison bar

Over 50% Off

Get a Course & Invest In Yourself Now

Subscribe & Get Your Bonus!
Your infomation will never be shared with any third party