Fiedler’s Contingency Leadership Theory

Contingency/ Situational Theories-

    • Sometimes the success of a leader does not depend upon the qualities, traits and behaviour of a leader alone.
    • The context in which a leader exhibits her/his skills, traits and behaviour matters.
    • Theory views leadership in terms of a dynamic interaction between a number of situational variables – the leader, the followers, the task situation, the environment, etc.
      1. Fiedler’s model,
      2. Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational theory,
      3. Leader-Member Exchange theory,
      4. Path-Goal theory
      5. Leader-Participation model

Fiedler’s Contingency Leadership Theory

  • Fred Fiedler (1967)– first person to develop a comprehensive model for the contingency theory of leadership.
  • Premise – effective performance of an organization or a group of people in an organization highly depend upon the style adopted by a leader and the degree to which a situation gives control to the leader.
  • Fiedler developed ‘Least-Preferred Coworker (LPC) Scale
  • The leaders were asked to give their preference on the employee with whom they have least preference to work with.
  • If described in favourable terms, –relationship-oriented
  • If rated in unfavourable terms, production-oriented

Fiedler has identified 3 situational factors, for effective leadership-

  1. Leader-Member Relations: The degree of confidence, trust and respect that members have on their leader;
  2. Task Structure: The degree to which the job assignments are structured or unstructured;
  3. Position Power: The degree of influence a leader has over power variables such as hiring, firing, discipline, promotions, and salary increases.

Criticisms of Fiedler’s Contingency Leadership Theory

  • The major drawbacks – the style adopted by a particular leader is fixed.
  • Assumption -a leader can follow only a particular style in any given situation
  • It suggests-
  1. Change of a leader to fit a situation Or
  2. Change the situation to suit the leader.
  • That is by restructuring tasks or increasing or decreasing the power positions, the leader is expected to bring the situation under control.
  • It is useful but the practical application is highly questionable.
  • In practice, it is generally difficult to assess how good the leader-member relations are, how structured the task is, and how much position-power a leader has (Robbins, Judge, & Sanghi, 2007).

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