Situational Leadership and Empathy

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What can we say about leadership? Leadership is a concept, way of life, and aspect of continuous evolution. Trying to narrow down or pinpoint an exact definition to be applied to this term is non-existent. Rather you can only apply certain aspects of this term to better understand it. The area which I will go into is “how situational leadership coincides with empathy as far as generating a successful or non-successful leader.”

First let us look at what situational leadership is. Situational leadership is seen as a leadership method according to the present situation you may be in. A true exceptional leader is not one who has a set method on how he/she leads, but rather an evolutionary method that situational leadership requires. Let me elaborate more on this. Let us say Roger Smith (a project manager from XYZ Construction Company) worked on a project down at Seattle for about a year and had to deal with the common problems associated with projects such as change orders, sub-contractor disputes, scope issues, and weather conditions. Roger Smith handled the Seattle project as he saw fit with prior experience and knowledge that he has about the industry. Now let us modify the situation. Let’s give Roger Smith the same type of project. Identical in size, cost, and scheduling but this time it will take place 4 years later along with the location being in China rather than Seattle. Will Roger Smith’s way of leading that he used in Seattle be successful in China? The outcome points towards no. Why would that be the case if the project is basically identical? For one, we have a different setting location. The labor issues, construction specifications, and laws are dealt with differently in China. Not only that, but the people he would be working with are raised and exposed to a totally different culture. With that, Roger can not approach or deal with people the same way. He would have to understand their culture to better adapt which is an aspect of empathy which I will get into more detail later. That is just one example of situational leadership needing to be applied to succeed in a project. For an additional clarification, http://www.chimaeraconsulting.com/sitleader.htm defines situational leadership as, “In simple terms, a situational leader is one who can adopt different leadership styles depending on the situation.” With those aspects at hand, someone can apply this concept in their progression of becoming a successful leader.
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