What is contextual leadership and how can it help navigate through unprecedented change? — KNOLSKAPE


Things simply happen faster than they used to, and, if at all, one rarely sees them coming.

Although a stable environment can be effectively managed by having a clear grasp of the initial circumstances, specific goals, and the processes and resources needed to achieve them, this approach is often insufficient today.

Therefore, the conventional top-down, linear, static team management paradigm needs to be modified in order to respond to the changing circumstances rather than being affected by them.

What is contextual leadership?

Imagine that after instructing you to move as quickly as you can in one direction, your supervisor blows the whistle and instructs you to move in the opposite direction. Imagine if this keeps happening repeatedly. You would eventually become upset by the pointless instructions and the lack of advancement in addition to becoming exhausted. Additionally, since you would no longer have faith in your boss’s sincere intentions, you would be less inclined to run again the following week.

Such situations are being witnessed too frequently in firms as CEOs struggle to keep up with the changing trends or competition. Often, leaders feel like they’re moving in the right direction with short-term results without having any sense of the larger context.

Why does context matter in leadership?

Context allows you to reduce miscommunication or energy spent running in the wrong direction. Leaders with contextual intelligence may tailor their actions and solutions to the current environment in a commercial setting. They constantly acquire information before making decisions rather than assuming they can apply the same concepts and methods to all business issues.

Don’t undervalue the influence of context on a larger scale either. Each member of our team is managing the epidemic in their own unique ways. Compared to pre Covid-19 times, our employment environment has changed. Each of us now likely experiences more stress on a daily basis than we did before the pandemic. Some team members might work and share their home office with partners or children who are enrolled in online courses.

It is challenging to get into the ‘focus work zone’ when the floor is continually shifting beneath your feet, which can be caused by several factors. Be gracious and adaptable to promote maximum enjoyment and productivity.

As a leader in business, consider these crucial inquiries:

Being more aware of the context will help you avoid making assumption-based errors. Business literature is rife with instances of organizations that established operations abroad but did not sufficiently research the host market. The results of trying to apply the same techniques to novel situations are failure, loss, and, at the absolute least, painful notoriety.

You can better understand distinctions in audiences, institutional processes, and cultural norms by developing your contextual awareness. It can aid you in avoiding making grave errors.

How can businesses develop contextual intelligence in leaders?

Start with awareness

It’s crucial to keep in mind that other nations and markets will have institutional and cultural differences when dealing with goods and services internationally. Avoid wanting to impart your existing knowledge to a new audience if you’re trying to target a new market niche. Instead, consider the idea that there are multiple important discoveries you need to make as leader first.

This attitude of awareness will prevent you from making snap judgments and encourage you to gather all the data you require before making a decision.

Work with experts

You have several opportunities of recruiting competent remote workers from anywhere, which will allow you to gain knowledge from experienced, learned people across the globe. Consider collaborating with influencers if you intend to grow your market online. This also entails collaborating with influencers in the online sphere. Influencers frequently understand their local target market.

Be willing to experiment

For instance, in content marketing and advertising, this would entail experimenting with various copywriting forms and methods to determine which ones result in the most clicks or conversions. Split testing must be done in order to focus on what works. Then you can build on these achievements and scale them.

Be data-oriented

Data, however, must be used for more than just a surface-level function. It must take the helm and direct how your organization operates as a whole. Data silos between teams must therefore be eliminated. As a leader, you should foster communication among staff members from various departments and job responsibilities.

What are the theories of context in leadership?

Situational Leadership Model

On the basis of a parabola, Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard created four situational leadership styles. The employee’s level of maturity (independence) is displayed on the horizontal axis on a scale from high to low. The horizontal axis shows the directed behavior from low to high in the opposite way. This refers to the amount of guidance given to the employee. They represent low to high levels of employee support, or conduct, on the vertical axis.

Situational leadership was defined and subsequently refined by Hershey and Blanchard in the 1970s. According to their situational leadership theory, the situation affects how effective a leadership style will be.

According to Hersey and Blanchard, there are four main leadership philosophies:

This situational leadership paradigm places a strong emphasis on flexibility so that leaders can change their approaches in response to the needs of their subordinates and the circumstances.

By acknowledging that there are many different ways to solve a problem and that leaders must be able to evaluate a situation and the maturity levels of subordinates in order to determine which approach will be the most effective at any given time, the situational approach to leadership also avoids the pitfalls of the single-style approach.


Contextual intelligence and leadership goes beyond what many firms realize-that is, knowing everything possible about their customers. You are taking a variety of features into account, including variations in institutional actors and cultural aspects.

Contextual intelligence is a skill that can be learnt and developed. We have shared a few crucial strategies that you can use to strengthen it. It can help develop your business and make wiser judgments. For more in-depth information, you may request the demo of a simulation-based learning program on the same subject by clicking the button below.

Originally published at https://knolskape.com on August 10, 2022.



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