Adaptive Leadership Approaches; Leadership Strengths and Weaknesses

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There are many types of leadership styles/approaches such as situational leadership approach, path-goal theory approach, transformational leadership approach and adaptive leadership approach. This week’s assignment will discuss the four types of leadership approaches: situational leadership approach, path-goal theory approach, transformational leadership approach, and adaptive leadership approach, the strengths or benefits and potential weaknesses or limitations of each of these four leadership approaches, leadership strengths and weaknesses. A discussion of the characteristics of a successful transformational leader that I have experienced working with and how I could effectively apply these four leadership approaches within an educational setting will also be a part of this week’s assignment.

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Paul Hershey and Kenneth Blanchard (1969) developed this leadership model which was based on Reddin’s (1967) three dimensional leadership model. This model forces the supervisor to adapt their style to the employees that are being convinced. The situational approach has been vastly recycled within the entire leadership’s organization (Northouse, 2007).

Situational leadership categorizes leadership into four styles: S1, S2, S3 and S4.

Style 1 and S2 are both high directive whereas S3 and S4 are both low directive. S1 is low supportive whereas S2 and S3 are high supportive. The last style, S4 is low directive across the board.

The situational Leadership model demonstrates and relates to all employees based on their developmental. D1 and D 4 are both high in commitment, D2 and D3 are both low in commitment. D1 demonstrates the competence being low whereas D2 and D3 demonstrates competence being moderate. D4 demonstrates the competence being high (Northouse, 2007).

The strengths that are associated within this approach are vastly utilized for training purposes, it is applicably uncomplicated for differentiated settings, it is a step-by-step model method for leaders that demonstrates how to achieve leadership effectiveness (Northouse, 2007).

The weaknesses that are associated within this approach are it’s not clear how employees move from low to high developmental levels and how an employee commitment can change over time, this model does not explain and/or discuss how leaders can apply this holistically with employees individually or as a group (Northouse, 2007).

The path-goal theory is a model based on a leader’s specified style or behavior that is conducive for the employee’s achievement and his/her work environment. The Path-Goal theory model was galvanized by the work of Martin G. Evans (1970). The original Path-Goal theory model identifies achievement, directive, participative, and supportive leader behaviors rooted in four styles (Northouse, 2013).

The strengths that are associated within this approach are it’s appropriate for unexpected circumstances as it relates to time being a factor, it is adjustable and adaptable, the revised approach can be used individually and/or collectively for ones that are well informed (House, 1996).

The weaknesses that are associated within this approach are its system and/or approach can fail if there are identified leadership deficiencies, the leaders’ illogical thoughts, ideas and actions based on his/her ignorance may cause many flaws because of the leader’s deprivation (House, 1996).

Transformational leadership is a model that inspires positivity in its employees/followers.

Transformational leaders predominantly are full of energy, very eager /zealous, vigorous and highly spirited. This approach demonstrates four types of transformational leadership. The first transformational leadership model is Intellectual Stimulation, the second transformational leadership model is Individualized Consideration, the third transformational leadership model is Inspirational Motivation and the fourth transformational leadership model is Idealized Influence (Northouse, 2016).

The strengths that are associated within this approach is its quick vision that is formed, its promotion of eagerness, and its uses of people’s motivation through inspiration (Northouse, 2016; Owens and Valesky, 2014). The weaknesses that are associated within this approach are many challenges are faced, reality and truth can become hidden as this can cause possible abuse (Northouse, 2016).

Adaptive leadership was elaborated more extensively by Ron Heifetz (1994). The adaptive leadership model is designed to assist organizations and individuals in dealing with unexpected situations and circumstances in undetermined times. Leaders within this approach identify and deal with systemic change, using techniques that confront the status quo and identify adaptive and technical challenges (Heifetz, 1994; Northouse, 2016).

The adaptive leadership is a model that is considered a learned approach. There are six models of behaviors associated with leaders that are vital to the adaptive leadership process. The six models of behaviors are: get on the balcony, identify adaptive challenges, regulate distress, maintain disciplined attention, give the work back to people and protect leadership voices from below (Heifetz, 1994; Heifetz & Laurie, 1997; Northouse, 2016).

The strengths that are associated within this approach are mobilizing people to engage in adaptive work, emphasizes on employee involvement and employee growth. Adaptive leadership help employees handle difficult tasks that may appear once the work environment changes. Adaptive leadership utilizes a step-by-step approach that is purposeful and meaning to leaders. Adaptive leadership provides a unique outline for what leaders and employees to adapt and foster change (Heifetz, 1994; Heifetz & Laurie, 1997; Northouse, 2016).

The weaknesses that are associated within this approach said to be too complicated and broad. Adaptive leadership does not directly explain how it implements a moral aspect. Adaptive leadership focuses on how growth causes employees to change.

A transformational leader that I have encountered during my career as a campus leader/administrator was my former principal, Mr. Cleotis Wadley. This leader was inspiring in the campus’ mission and vision he established for the school. He listened to ideas and concerns of the faculty/staff and students. He always looked at himself first, this is what a leader should do. He went above his call of duty as it relates to dedication and commitment. He supported, modeled and implemented the success of the school as a whole which resulted in a positive culture and climate environment. His mission statement was his three pillars of success in an effort to lead an effective and data-driven campus with positive academic student achievement. His three pillars of success were: safety (being the top priority), on-going effective communication and optimal student achievement through data-driven team meetings. He would often utilize verbal and non-verbal praise to motivate and encourage teachers in facilitating a purposeful, meaningful and engaging classroom environment.

Collaboration was an important concept that he incorporated into the culture of the school community. He implemented a standing time of his Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) meeting to take place every Monday morning at 9:00a.m. Mr. Wadley implemented the Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) every Tuesday on the teacher’s planning time to foster effective, purposeful and meaningful collaboration and communication. Committees were established and formed to ensure shared responsibility among faculty members were evident and effectively taking place. Student voices were also heard by way of student council members. It was evident that communication and collaboration was happening on every level on this campus. Application of situational, path-goal, transformational, and adaptive leadership approaches:

As an aspiring campus leader/administrator, my goal is to be a transformational leader. With saying that, I aspire to walk in the footsteps of Mr. Cleotis Wadley’s leadership approach. The aforementioned description of Mr. Cleotis Wadley was implementation of various types of leadership approaches. As an aspiring campus administrator/leader, I would implement an environment where teachers are supported and given opportunities for collaboration on an on-going basis. This effort will motivate teachers to increase their classroom performance. Collaboration between my Instructional Leadership Team (ILT), faculty/staff and administration is essential to the academic success of all students on my campus. My school’s motto will be “Every Child Can and Will Learn….Whatever It Takes, Every Child, Everyday.” With this motto in mind, I will strive to make decisions and changes that are best for the students and faculty/staff. My goal is to create a safe and orderly working and learning environment for all stakeholders.

Being able to facilitate, operate and implement the three pillars of success (borrowed from Mr. Wadley) safety being my top priority, on-going effective communication and optimal student achievement through data-driven team meetings as an educational leader would be one of my greatest accomplishments. I would strive to continue to make ongoing adjustments which includes, but not limited to classroom performance at the highest optimal level of academic success and continuously monitoring and ensuring academic success of all students as this is a very essential component as an aspiring campus leader. To ensure that all faculty/staff and students are provided with research-based resources and knowledge in an effort to create life-long learners, as a campus educational leader/administrator I would consistently offer my faculty and staff opportunities for professional development, ongoing trainings, seminars, webinars and workshops on implementing the new educational trends.



  1. Evans, M. G. (1970). The effects of supervisory behavior on the path-goal relationship. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 5, 277-298.
  2. Heifetz, R.A. (1994). Leadership without easy answers. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.
  3. Heifetz, R. A. & Laurie, D. L. (1997). The work of leadership. Harvard Business Review, 7(1), 124-134.
  4. Hersey, P., & Blanchard, K. H. (1969). Management of organizational behavior: Utilizing human resources (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  5. House, R. J. (1996). Path-goal leadership theory: Lessons, legacy, and a reformulated theory. The Leadership Quarterly, 7(3), 323-352. (96)90024-7
  6. Northouse, P. G. (2007). Leadership, Theory and Practice (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  7. Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  8. Northouse, P. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice. 7th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA Sage
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  10. Owens, R., & Valesky, T. (2014). Organizational behavior in education: Leadership and school reform (11th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. 9780133588811
  11. Reddin, W. J. (1967). The 3-D Management Style Theory. Training and Development, 21(4).

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