Situational Leadership In Practice

I recently wrote about how situational leadership was one of the more important leadership lessons I’ve learned in my life. In the previous post, I shared about the principle of situational leadership. This post is finding ways to make that lesson practical. I want to share a couple ways I have put that lesson into practice in my ministry.

One of my ministry supervisors was the one that taught me about situational leadership. I started to apply it immediately with him. We started to meet quarterly for 30 minutes to review the previous three months worth of ministry activities and events. The conversation was mostly evaluating what worked and did not work. Then we spent the last ten or so minutes reviewing the next three months and what was coming up. What I learned is that for each event or activity, I needed my boss to use a different situational leadership behavior for me. On some events, I was very confident and I just needed him to be S4. However, there were events that I had never coordinated before and I had no clue what to do. I needed my boss to be S1 in that situation. It worked really well because my boss knew exactly what I needed from him. This quarterly meeting helped us as a team to make our ministry better and more successful.

Of course, there are many people I work with on a regular basis that do not know about situational leadership. That’s okay. I don’t need them to know about it to apply it to my ministry. What I do when I gather with different team members that serve on the different teams I lead is I start to mentally think about where they are at in terms of their ministry project. Here are a few questions that help me determine what style of leadership they need from me:

  1. Have they served on this team before?
  2. Have they been in this specific leadership role before?
  3. What similar experiences have they been a part of before?
  4. Do they show confidence about this ministry?
  5. Do they understand the expectations I have of them?
  6. Have I worked with them before?
  7. Are they a self-starter?

Asking these questions can give me a better sense of what style of leadership I need to practice with them. Of course, if they are familiar with situational leadership. I have no problem asking them what leadership behavior they think I should be using with them.

Situational Leadership is not the perfect tool because, as I mentioned before, the style of leadership can change from person to person, from event to event, and from time to time. However, I know it has helped me be more responsive to the needs of those that serve with me in ministry. As a ministry leader, serving my team of volunteers and staff in the most effective way possible is the most important thing I can do.

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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