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  • Writer's pictureIra Ketkin

Why you should invest in SLII® (Situational Leadership II) training!

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Over the years working in the HR field, I kept hearing the name Sonia Slavcheva. Everyone I spoke to had a very high opinion of her and her expertise. She had been the HR director for many large organisations in Bulgaria. Most recently, she is the managing partner for Blanchard International Bulgaria. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet her face to face. So, last year, when I saw that she will deliver a training on Situational Leadership, it didn't take me long to sign up for the 2-day event.

It may have started as one thing, but I quickly discovered that the cost of the training is the best investment I had made in 2019. I had worked with the model in the past and even delivered training using parts of it. But what Sonia taught me was nowhere near what I knew before.

To understand why I was so impressed with this, you need to know a little bit about the model. (By the way, the post-course 'homework' was to tell our team about the model, so I will use this as an opportunity to do that.) I will not go into too much details because I don't want to rob you of the pleasure of discovering this all on your own.

Imagine your team has certain tasks that they need to perform on a regular basis. If you write down all the tasks and make sure they are SMART, you should have a pretty good description of what are the responsibilities of your team members. You can also include special one-off tasks as well

Next, you need to consider the competence and commitment of each of your team members for each of the tasks on your list. You would go through a series of steps to figure out does each team member have the necessary skills, motivation and confidence to perform each task. This is how you would reach their so-called Development Level. There are 4 of those:

  • D1 - enthusiastic beginner

  • D2 - disillusioned learner

  • D3 - capable, but cautious performer

  • D4 - self-reliant achiever

The levels describe a path each of us goes through when faced with a brand new challenge. Imagine learning to drive a car for the first time. You start off with a lot of enthusiasm, even though you have no idea how to do it (D1). Once you start learning more about how to drive, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information and tasks you are supposed to perform at all times (D2). But if you get over this feeling, you start driving more and more confidently. Of course, every once in a while you may make a mistake and this makes you sometimes doubt your ability to drive, but that is normal (D3). Finally, after years of driving, you end up in a situation where you drive home after work, thinking about the events of the day without realising how you actually got there. The process has become automatic, you no longer need to think about it (D4). Just a quick note here - you should always pay attention when you drive!!!

So why are the development levels of your employees so important? Well, simply put because each of them has different needs. And as a leader you need to give them what they need. for each development level, there is a corresponding leadership style, which is a combination of 2 behaviours:

  • directive - telling people how to do things

  • supportive - supporting without explicit directions

And so, the fours corresponding leadership styles are:

  • S1 - high directive, low supportive

  • S2 - high directive, high supportive

  • S3 - low directive, high supportive

  • S4 - low directive, low supportive

SLII® Model

This is what the final model looks like. Of course, there is a lot more to it than my brief explanations. But it was important to know the model even on a high-level to understand why during the training I was sitting on the steps of the training facilities thinking to myself "OMG! I suck at my job!"

As part of the pre-class work, you fill in a self-assessment questionnaire and you get the results during the workshop. I remember my most preferred leadership style was S3 and I barely used S1 or S2. The reason I was sitting on the steps and doubting my competence was because I realised how some of my team members over the years needed me to be S1/S2 and I almost always approached them as coach, rather than a manager.

Naturally, my self-doubt didn't last long. I figured, everyone makes mistakes and it is time to learn my lesson and move on. Luckily, I had an opportunity to practice right away with people at D1/D2 levels. Soon enough I started feeling a lot more confident in figuring out the task, the development level and the needed leadership style of the people I worked with.

I also found the model to be extremely useful in dealing with family as well - if my husband didn't want to do something, I had to figure out his development level for the task and then approach it accordingly. If he lacked skills, I would show him how to do it. If he lacked motivation or confidence, I would try to help him find them within himself.

I have been telling my colleagues about the SLII training ever since. And if you too want to invest in yourself this year, I would strongly recommend finding your local chapter of Blanchard International and attending the training on SLII® (Situational Leadership). And if you are in Bulgaria and would like to meet Sonia Slavcheva (which I also highly recommend - the stories she can tell you...!), check out their website or the Facebook page for the latest training groups.

Until next time!



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