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Critically Evaluate How the Situational Model of Leadership Can Be Used to Explain the Behaviour of Saddam Hussein

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Saddam Hussein was the President of Iraq from 1979 to 2003 and during his time in office was responsible for a tumultuous period in Iraqi history. For the purposes of analysis of his leadership style with respect to a Situational model, three areas of his career will be looked at separately; his rise to presidency from Vice-President, during the Iran-Iraq War and post invasion of Kuwait.

Situational model of leadership

A widely recognised situational model is the model developed by Hersey and Blanchard (1969) and the revised model by Blanchard et al. (1985) (Northhouse, 2007). The theory in outline states that one's leadership style should be dictated by the type of situation and the demands of the situation at hand. Thus, a good leader is one who can adapt their style appropriately to the situational demands.

Hersey and Blanchard characterized the situational leadership style in terms of the amount of the direction and the support that the leader provides to followers. The situational leadership styles they described fall into the following four types:

Telling Leaders: The telling leader defines the roles and tasks for each follower, and supervises them very closely. All important decisions are made by the leader and announced to the followers that means communication is predominantly one-way. These leaders tell others what to do.

Selling Leaders: The selling leader defines the rolls and the tasks of each follower, but also seeks ideas and suggestions from followers. Decisions are made predominantly by the leader, but the communication style used is two-way. These leaders are good at "selling" their ideas.

Participating Leaders: A participating leader passes along the day-to-day decisions such as dividing up the workload to the followers. The participating leader will help to facilitate discussion and takes part in the decision-making process, but ultimate control is with the follower.

Delegating Leaders: The delegating leader is still involved in the workgroup's decisions and helps to solve problems, but ultimate control is with the followers. In fact, with this situational leadership style, the followers actually decide when to get the leader involved.


Development Levels of Followers

Blanchard and Hersey's situational leadership model also recognized the importance of the development level of those being led. Their theory states that the leader's style needs to reflect, in part, the competence and commitment of the followers. Those two dimensions were then used to develop the following four development levels of those being led:

Low Competence, High Commitment

Some Competence, Low Commitment

High Competence, Variable Commitment

High Competence, High Commitment

In Blanchard's model of leadership, there exists an ideal type of leadership style to apply to each development level.

More recently, Daniel Goleman identified six leadership styles: authoritative, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and coercive (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002). In Goleman's model of situational leadership he combines his five elements of emotional intelligence to formulate a total of six situational leadership styles which are described below. Goleman emphasizes the need for a manager to change between these six styles as conditions around them change.

Coaching Leaders: In the Coaching Leadership Style the leader focuses on helping others in their personal development and in their job-related activities. The coaching leader aids others to get up to speed by working closely with them to make sure they have the knowledge and tools to get their job done. This situational leadership style works best when the employee already understands their weakness and is receptive to ideas on how to improve.

Pacesetting Leaders: When employees are self-motivated and highly skilled, the Pacesetting Leadership Style is extremely effective. The pacesetting leader sets very high performance standards for themselves and their group and the leader exemplifies the behaviours that are sought from other members of the group. This leadership style needs to be used sparingly since workers can often "burn out" due to the demanding pace of the style.

Democratic Leaders: The Democratic Leadership Style gives members of the work group a vote or a say in nearly every decision the team makes. When used effectively, the democratic leader builds flexibility and responsibility and can help identify new ways to do things with fresh ideas. Care should be taken due to the level of personal involvement required by this style and the decision making process itself can be very time consuming.

Affiliative Leaders: The Affiliative Leadership Style is most effective in situations where morale is low or teambuilding is needed. This leader is easily recognized by their theme of "employee first." Employees can expect much praise from this style; unfortunately, poor performance may also go without reprimand.


Authoritative Leaders: If your business seems to be drifting aimlessly, the Authoritative Leadership Style can be very effective in this type of situation. The authoritative leader is an expert in dealing with the problems and challenges at hand and can clearly identify goals that will lead to success. This leader also allows the employees themselves to figure out the best way to achieve those goals.

Coercive Leaders: The Coercive Leadership Style should be used with caution because it is based on the concept of "command and control" which usually causes a decrease in motivation among those that are interacting with this type of manager. The coercive leader is most effective in situations where the company or group requires a complete turnaround. It is also effective during disasters or dealing with under performing employees - usually as a last resort.

Saddam's Leadership style when becoming President

For years Saddam was Vice-President to President Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, a generous, encouraging mentor and kinsman who was the most important influence in Saddam's life and career (Coughlin, 2002). For years Saddam was patiently plotting, murdering betraying and assassinating his way towards



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