The "Situational Leadership" model, developed by Hersey & Blanchard, shows us how good leaders can adapt their behavior depending on an individual’s competence and commitment to achieving a specific goal or task. Through my work coaching Agile teams I have become aware that different teams require different approaches. Teams just starting out will need more direction to get up and running, as they will have low competence in Agile techniques. As teams start to get some experience they will run into challenges thus requiring more supportive behavior. As the team grows in competence less direction needs to be given. Eventually the team will grow in confidence and be able to be fully responsible for its own actions. I will call how I adapt my approach “Situational Coaching”, but it pretty much follows the Situational Leadership model.
Teams take time to form and they can be at different levels of competence and have different levels of commitment, as they atempt to achieve a specific goal.
D1 - Low Competence, High Commitment - in general these teams are lacking the specific skills and techniques, they are new to Agile, but they have the confidence and/or motivation to want to try it.
D2 - Some Competence, Low Commitment – the team now have some Agile experience, but still need assistance, changes in the team’s way of working may have challenged them or their organisation, their confidence may have taken a knock. They may be considering if moving to Agile was such a good idea.
D3 - High Competence, Variable Commitment – the team is now experienced and they are competent, but may lack confidence to work without the support of the coach, or they may lack motivation.
D4 - High Competence, High Commitment – experienced and comfortable in their own ability to work as a team. This team may even be more skilled than the coach.
Then there are four coaching styles to be used depending on how the coach assesses the competence and commitment levels of the team.
S1 - Directing – coach focuses on giving direction. The coach is telling the team what they need to do and makes sure they do it. To be used with D1 teams.
S2 - Guiding – still some direction but with a lot more support. There should be two-way communication; the team still needs direction, as they lack experience and some commitment. The coach seeks solutions from the team first, but will not let the team make too many bad choices and will therefore be prepared to overrule the team. To be used with D2 teams.
S3 - Supporting – less direction needed, but still offering a lot of support. The team now makes its own decisions. For teams with competence but lacking in motivation or confidence. They need less direction because of skills, but still need a coach to boost their confidence and/or motivation level. To be used with D3 teams.
S4 - Delegating – the coach needs to give little direction or support. This is for teams who have high competence and high confidence/motivation level. The team decides when the coach needs to be involved. To be used with D4 teams.
The coach should identify where the team are and work to move the Team from D1, to D2, to D3, through to D4. With different skills or situations teams may be at different levels of development, therefore a coach may behave differently depending on the situation or practice that the team are trying to master. The coach should be wary as teams can regress as well as move forward, sometimes external factors knock the teams confidence moving them back from D4 to D3.