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Leadership and the contingency theory: It has been agreed that there is no perfect leadership model. This is a result of situations that might warrant each leadership model. Some leaders are just goal getters (taskmasters), all they care about is getting the job done, and on the other hand, some leaders are more concerned about the well-being of their followers in getting the job done. There is no perfect leadership model but only the best that fits the situation and will help them achieve their goals.
FIEDLER’S CONTINGENCY THEORY
Fiedler’s Leadership and the contingency theory states that a leader’s effectiveness is determined by how well his leadership style matches the situation. There are several contingency theories other than Fiedler’s theory, which also say that there is no singular best way to lead or structure an organization’s leadership. It examines the best way to set up the leadership of your team or organization. So it is very safe to say that the best leadership style is to be contingent in every situation.
Fiedler’s contingency theory, similarly to all other contingency theories states that there is no best way to lead your team. This shows that it is the situation of things or the team structure that will determine what leadership model to use. This is a result of two factors, which are: Leadership Style and Situational Favourableness (Control).
FACTORS THAT DETERMINE THE LEADERSHIP STYLE TO USE IN ANY SITUATION ACCORDING TO FIEDLER’S Leadership and the contingency theory
Leadership Style: The first in using this model is identifying your perfect leadership style. It is essential to note that, Fiedler believed that leadership style is fixed for individuals, and you cannot change your style to suit the situation but instead put leaders into positions that suit their style. So in identifying your leadership style, Fiedler created a scale called the Least Preferred Coworker (LPC).
The scale puts you through the task of identifying who you have least enjoyed working with. What do you think about those people? You then rate these people how you feel about them for each factor and then add your scores. This could be people you have worked with in the past or people you underwent training pieces with and have done projects together. In the end, if your total score is high, you are more likely to be a relationship-oriented leader, but if it is low, you are likely to be more of a task-oriented leader.
The scale expatiates more below. You have a fixed factor for every character (Boring, Cold, Hostile, etc.) ranging from bad to good and then numerical figures (1,2,3… 8) corresponding to each character factor, which will help you determine the level of each character for the person. So, the model tells us that the more favorable (high) you rate a person, the more relationship-oriented you are towards the person. In the same vein, the less favorable (low) you rate a person, the more task-oriented you are towards the person.
Task-oriented leaders are good at organizing teams and projects and getting things done while relationship-oriented leaders tend to be good at building good and sustainable relationships and managing conflict to get things done.
Situational Favourableness (Control): After the least preferred coworker scale has been drawn, the next is to determine the situational favourableness of the particular situation you have on the ground. This factor depends on three distinct factors, which are:
- Leader-Member relations: This is the level of confidence and trusts the team has in their leader. A leader who has the trust of their followers has more influence on the team which puts the leader in a more favorable situation and environment than one who has lost the trust and confidence of the followers. An unfavorable atmosphere will be very hostile and dull, this might reduce the productivity of the workers.
- Task Structure: This factor refers to the kind of work and task you are doing. This could be clear and structured or controversial and unclear. An unstructured task in which the whole team including the team leader has little understanding puts the team in an unfavorable condition. Compared to the situation whereby the next step is clear even before the team is done with the present step. It helps the team be more compact and full of confidence that they know what they are doing and are up for the tasks ahead.
- Leader’s position power: This is the degree of power and influences a leader has directly on the team. This includes rewards, promotion, role sharing, and punishment. The more power a leader has the more favorable the situation is for him. On the other hand, a leader that the followers don’t listen to will find it hard to get the job done to their satisfaction, thus making the followers be without coordination.
If the followers and leaders have deep trust, respect, and confidence in each other, they have clear and structured tasks ahead of them and the leader has formal power and authority over them, the situation is said to be favorable.
LIMITATIONS TO FIEDLER’S CONTINGENCY THEORY
- Lack of flexibility: Fiedler believes that our managerial and leadership styles are fixed and cannot be changed. This is against the belief that the best way to handle situations is flexibility on the part of the leaders. This means the ability of the leaders to change to the situations they have on the ground.
- The Least Preferred Coworker scale is not always correct and reliable. The scale could be made based on sentiments by the leaders and this points to the fact that the scale is sometimes incorrect and unreliable.
Finally, Fiedler’s contingency model is focused on individuals’ natural leadership styles and the situations in which these styles will be most effective. Most people believe that transformational leadership is the best leadership style that can be used in any situation but other leadership styles can be employed too when necessary.