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Contingency and situational leadership
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Contingency Perspective of Leadership

This is based on the idea that appropriate leadership style depends on the group members and setting (Mcshane S.& Travaglione T page 472) similarly effective leadership depends on a match between situation and leadership style. Contingency leadership theories assume that effective leaders must be both flexible and insightful. These contingency theories include

 

i. Path-Goal theory of leadership

This theory has its origin from the expectancy theory of motivation its states that effective leaders influence employees performance and satisfaction by ensuring that employees who perform their best have a higher degree of need fulfilment than the employees who don’t perform as much.

 

Path goal theory advocates for servant leadership where leaders serve followers by understanding their needs and facilitating their work performance. This is theory has withstood scientific critique better than the others (Mcshane S.& Travaglione T page 472). Path goal leadership styles are directive, supportive, participative, and achievement-oriented.

 

Directive – this type of leadership style provides the that the leader  instills  a sense of responsibility and has  clearly drawn up what the manager expect of his subordinates and performance of subordinates is monitored and appreciated where necessary through rewards of for meeting specified goals or may be facing disciplinary actions for failing to meet certain criterion. Therefore the directive style is a task oriented sort of leadership.(Mcshane, S& Travaglione page 474).

 

Supportive- this Style is primarily to look out for employees’ well being. It is where a leader does not sit on the other end of the desk expecting employees to reporting to him but rather he works alongside the employees and getting to know them on  personal basis and when employee are comfortable with their leader they perform better and the communication barrier is broken and there is a flow of information needed to efficiently operate (Mcshane, S& Travaglione page 473).

 

 Participative- this  Style of leadership encourages the subordinates to have a say in the decision making , the subordinates make suggestions that managers considers when making critical decision which is a good thing because there’s a sense of belonging in the work place (Mcshane, S& Travaglione page 473).

 

Achievement-oriented- This style focuses on the competence of employees so the managers set goal and then evaluate employee performance (Mcshane, S& Travaglione page 473).

 

Contingencies of path goal theory

As a contingency theory the path goal suggest that each of the following leadership style will be effective in some situations.

 

Locus of control- people with an internal locus of control believe that they have control over their work environment, therefore this employees prefer achievement oriented and participative leadership.  (Mcshane, S & Travaglione page 474).

 

Team dynamics –Performance –oriented team norms is the result of directive leadership which  work hand in hand   with  low  team cohesiveness. Whereas, high cohesiveness is backed up is supportive  leadership as a substitute ,eg a leader may choose to use supportive leadership in times where an employees’ performance is as a result of a loss of a loved one (Mcshane, S& Travaglione page 475).

 

Task Structure- the idea in this structure is to adopt means and ways that don’t just end up being ideas but rather  procedures that will make an effective system. In doing so participative leadership is directly related to employees that work under non-routine  because the lack  of rules and procedures gives them more discretion to achieve challenging goals. Supportive leadership should be adopted    for employees in highly routine  and simple jobs to help them to cope with the tedious nature of the work and lack of control over the pace of work(Mcshane, S& Travaglione page 474).

 

Skills and experience - This is a combination of directive and leadership. Directive helps directive leadership to help them know how to accomplish tasks and supportive leadership helps employees  to cope with the uncertainties of unfamiliar work situations. Directive leadership is detrimental when employees are skilled and experienced  because it introduces too much supervisory control  (Mcshane, S& Travaglione page 474).

 

 

ii. Fiedler’s contingency model

 This was the earliest contingency theory developed by Fred Fiedler and his associates. Biased on this model a leaders effectiveness depends on whether a persons leadership style is appropriately matched to his situation (Mcshane S.& Travaglione T page 476), this model suggested that the best way to lead depends on the influence and the degree of power a leader posses in a given circumstance. Below is a table summarising findings of Fielder’s Contingency theory of leadership

 

Task-motivated and socio-independent leaders perform best when they have the most control (highly favourable).

                                <AMOUNT OF SITUATIONAL CONTROL BY LEADER>

High

 

 

 

a. leader-member relations are good.

b. Task is well structured.

c. leader has high position power.

Relationship-motivated

leaders perform best when they have moderate control (moderately favourable)

 

Moderate

 

 

 

 

A combination of favourable and unfavourable factors.

Task motivated leaders perform best when they have low control (highly unfavourable).

 

Low

 

 

 

 

  1. Leader-member relations are poor.
  2. Task is poorly structured.
  3. Leader has low position power.

(DuBrin& Ireland, page 283).

 

It’s not easy to identify effective and ineffective leaders. Fiedler suggests that’s leader perform better in some situations but not all the time. Therefore effectiveness of a leader can be improved by changing the situation to match his or her leadership style. This can be by changing the contingencies.

 

Fiedler has gained considerable respect for his contribution on leadership knowledge. However his leadership theory has been gained numerous critics. This is because the theory only considers two leadership styles while other theories suggest that there are more complex and realistic array of behaviour options. Evidence has show that Training and experience are also factors that strongly affects leadership.

 

iii. Situational leadership model

This is the most common contingency theory among trainers. It was developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, and states that effective leaders will vary their style with the readiness off the followers this model also identifies four leadership style- delegating, selling, participating and selling. Leader member relations, task structure, and position power

 

Leader member relations- this the extend to which a leader is supported and  accepted  by his group members

 

Task structure-This is the extend to which a leader knows what to do in a given situation.

 

Position power- This is the extend to which an organization gives a leader the means to punish and reward  group members, and get the job done.

 

References

 

DuBrin, J., Andrew, &Ireland R. Duane (1993) Management & Organisation (2nd ED) south-western Publishing CO. Cincinnati Ohio

 

Mcshane, S& Travaglione (2003) Organisational Behaviour on the pacific rim McGraw-hill Australia