How is maturity related to success?

The situational (three-dimensional) leadership style - maturity model

The success of leadership depends not only on the personality traits of the manager, but also on the framework conditions such as B. the degree of difficulty of the work task, the position level of the manager in the company in which the manager moves, and also the "level of maturity" of the employees.

Classification of employees according to their degree of maturity

Employees are classified into four types of employees according to their level of maturity. The classification is based on observation. Usually the average employees and high performers make up the majority of all employees:


The situational leadership style is applied flexibly. The situation in which leadership is carried out determines leadership behavior.

In the 1970s P. Hersey and K. H. Blanchard developed the maturity model. The employees are divided into four stages of maturity. According to this classification, a connection is established between the level of maturity of the employee, the leadership behavior of the manager and the efficiency of the leadership.

In the maturity model, it is assumed that the manager determines the maturity of an employee with the help of tests or qualifications and accordingly leads them to a greater or lesser extent in relation to their employees or tasks.

Hersey and Blanchard distinguish between:

  • Relationship orientation = supportive, praiseworthy behavior of the manager
  • Task orientation = directing behavior with detailed instructions

The level of maturity of an employee depends on:

  • taking responsibility
  • Competence (knowledge and ability)
  • motivation
  • Commitment (motivation and confidence)

This results in four stages of maturity:

The degree of maturity of an employee is determined by the combination of motivation or his will (= psychological maturity) and ability (= working maturity).

Maturity level 1: low maturity = lack of ability and lack of motivation
Maturity level 2: low to moderate maturity = existing motivation, lack of ability
Maturity level 3: Moderate to high maturity = skills are there, motivation is lacking
Maturity level 4: high maturity = ability and motivation are present

Hersey and Blanchard recommend different approaches and leadership styles to managers depending on their level of maturity.

As a rule, new employees start their new job at maturity level 2. Their competence is not yet fully developed. However, they are highly motivated. These employees are guided in the first induction phase. In the second phase of familiarization, there is a switch to the integrative management style.

How is the employee ideally managed in the individual levels of maturity?

The degree of maturity cannot be seen in absolute terms, but always in relation to the task at hand. One and the same employee can at the same time have a low maturity with regard to a certain task or a high maturity with regard to another task.


Common characteristics of the different levels of maturity

Maturity level 1 - low maturity - authoritarian leadership style - task-oriented leadership
The manager directs the implementation through instructions, structuring specifications and a certain amount of control.

  • FK structures, plans and prioritizes
  • FK arranges, determines, dictates (work instructions)
  • FK decides and informs
  • FK sets goals and develops action plans
  • FK teaches and explains how to do the task and gives clear instructions
  • FK checks the implementation (control) formulates clear tasks
  • FK is responsible for decisions and problem solving
  • FK controls and evaluates the work of the employee

Maturity level 2 - low to medium maturity - integrating leadership style - task and employee-oriented leadership
The manager strengthens the self-confidence of the employee by explaining decisions to employees (traceability) and at the same time giving clear instructions.

  • FK recognizes problems and sets goals
  • FK explains his ideas to the employee and asks for their ideas; communicates more intensely with the employee
  • Based on the employee's ideas, FK makes the final decision on how to proceed
  • FK explains and clarifies decisions and processes
  • FK is increasingly passing on more complex tasks and explaining the procedure
  • FK develops a problem-solving action plan and then discusses it with the employee
  • FK checks the work result and questions the procedure
  • FK controls and evaluates the work of the employee
  • FK gives feedback and praises
  • In the event of errors, the management team reflects on the process with the employee and provides assistance in avoiding errors (employee development)
  • FK gives recognition (praise) for the development

Maturity level 3 - medium to high maturity - participatory leadership style - employee-oriented leadership
The manager exchanges ideas with the employee about the task and involves the employee in the decision-making process. She avoids directive leadership!

  • FK and MA clarify possible conflicts and develop solutions
  • If the employee is not motivated, the instructor should know or explore the motives for the frustration or demotivation. Have there been conflicts in the past that have not yet been resolved and that slow the employee's motivation? Have agreements not been kept? Were there different unspoken expectations that are now slowing motivation?
  • FK involves the employees in the process of problem definition and goal setting
  • FK shares responsibility for problem solving and decision-making with the employee
  • FK encourages the employee to make suggestions - the employee is involved in the decision-making process
  • FK encourages employees to make their own decisions
  • FK asks questions, listens and encourages independent work
  • FK offers support, help and ideas
  • FK lives an appreciative feedback culture and encourages employees in their feedback behavior
  • FK shows understanding for development and gives reassurance when it is necessary
  • FK evaluates the work of the employee together with him

Maturity level 4 - high maturity - delegation style - let employees work largely independently
The manager transfers both decision-making and implementation responsibility. The employee shows a high level of maturity in terms of knowledge and ability. He is committed and willing to work on a task largely independently.

  • FK gives challenging tasks to the employees to complete independently.
  • FK assigns the task with clear objectives in quality and quantity (result)
  • MA knows his "hat" and knows what he is responsible for
  • MA creates a concept and plans the use of resources
  • FK grants the necessary powers
  • FK gives freedom and provides the framework
  • FK provides more support in the form of coaching meetings or fixed-day appointments
  • FK provides assistance when the employee catches up with you
  • MA knows the status of its results and can provide information about the status at any time
  • MA involves the FK if the result cannot be achieved
  • FK and MA maintain open, mutually loyal and cooperative communication


Tips for leadership depending on the level of maturity


  • Research the causes. Do not make hasty classifications.
  • Ask the employee open questions! Explore the reasons!
  • Don't look the other way and make clear decisions.
  • Persistent poor performance creates displeasure in the team and slows down overall performance.
  • Your employee may feel overwhelmed with the tasks and experience negative stress on a daily basis. Negative stress makes you sick in the long run.
  • Social responsibility: Are there any activities in the company that the employee could do better? Talk to the HR department in good time.
  • Character weaknesses will not be able to change your employee. Check whether you and the team and your customers can live or deal with a character weakness. Here development talks are often frustrating on both sides because the employee cannot change it. Exception: Your employee is ready for self-reflection.

Escalation levels:

  • Stage 1: Clarification discussion
  • Level 2: Critic discussion
  • Level 3: reprimand or warning
    Talk to the HR department beforehand, as there are many legal and formal factors to be observed. You lose credibility if the warning is not legally valid or if it is withdrawn by management because it does not correspond to the corporate culture.
  • Stage 4: termination


Average employees

  • Formulate the requirements for the position in concrete terms
  • Check and update job description
  • Set, challenge and encourage clear goals
  • Explain the meaning of the task and show the impact and impact on the outside world in the event of a poor result
  • Close control and check results in terms of quality and quantity
  • Reflect on the approach to the tasks
  • Give feedback on the work result
  • Show performance drops and define measures
  • Demand personal responsibility
  • Define a written description of the tasks and the areas of development. Agree on measures and define milestones for development.
  • Avoid doing your employee's work yourself in the long run!
  • Make sure that other employees do not take care of the activities of this employee because he or she may be a person who is sympathetic or takes a victim's attitude.


Top performers

  • Agree on challenging goals
  • Give design leeway
  • Allow independence and independence
  • Integrate employees in the decision-making process
  • Conversations - more in the form of an open conversation: What is the status? What are the challenges? How are these mastered? What successes have you had in the recent past? What is your employee proud of?
  • Check framework conditions and optimize if necessary
  • Giving recognition for performance or for special assignments


Top performer

  • The same factors apply here as for the service providers
  • Clearly define the framework.
  • Make sure that your top performer also does the administrative and routine work. Set deadlines here. The same rules apply to them as to all other employees. Otherwise the other employees will be frustrated.
  • Make sure he doesn't miss the target. Talk to him about the degree of goal achievement.
  • Top performers get support when they need it.