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Fiedler's Contingency Theory

 

While Blanchard's theory calls for leaders to adjust their behaviours to meet the situational needs of subordinates, Professor Fred Fiedler took a different approach in his earlier contingency theory, suggesting that successful leadership requires matching leaders with mainly stable leadership styles to the demands of the situation. If a leader's style does not match the situation, then either the situation should be changed or another leader should be found who does match the situation.

 

Leadership Style

A major, often controversial aspect of Fiedler's theory is how he characterizes and measures leadership style. Fiedler asserts that a leader tends to be either relationship- oriented (similar to the employee-centred styles) or task-oriented (comparable to the directive styles). He considers a leader's style, like a trait, to be rooted in his or her personality and to be stable regardless of the situation. Task-oriented leaders always emphasize getting the job done without much concern for their subordinates' feelings; relationship-oriented leaders are most concerned about their people across all kinds of tasks. However, Fiedler's critics counter that people are capable of learning and changing their behaviours, even leadership behaviour.

To measure a leader's style, Fiedler devised a least preferred co-worker (LPC) scale consisting of a series of adjective continuums. Low-LPC leaders view and describe their least preferred co-workers negatively and are thought to be task-oriented. High-LPC leaders view even their least preferred co-worker in a relatively favourable light and are thought to be relationship-oriented. Fiedler's LPC scale to measure leadership style is also controversial, with some researchers questioning the scale's validity.

 

Situational Contingencies

Whether a relationship-oriented or task-oriented leader will be successful depends on the favourability of the situation - that is, the extent to which the situation gives the leader control over subordinate behaviour. Favourability is defined by three aspects of the situation:

1.Leader-member relations - the extent to which the leader is accepted by group members and has their support, respect, and goodwill is the most important determinant of favourability.

2.Task structure - the degree to which a task is well defined or has standard procedures for goal accomplishment. Creative or ambiguous tasks would be less structured.

3.Position power - the extent to which a leader has formal authority over employees to evaluate their work, assign tasks, and administer rewards and punishment.

By combining these three situational variables, we can derive eight different situations, called octants (Figure 11). The most favourable situation (octant 1) is one in which leader-member relations are good, the task is structured, and the leader has strong position power. The least favourable situation (octant 8) is one where a leader has poor relations with subordinates, an unstructured task, and little formal power.



 


Figure 10


Style Effectiveness

In his research, Fiedler found that task-oriented leaders tended to be most effective (have higher group productivity) in the three most favourable and the very least favourable situations (octants 1, 2, 3, 8), while rela≠tionship-oriented leaders were most effective in the situations of moderate favourableness. If the leader's style does not match the situational demands, Fiedler would advise the leader to alter the situation, perhaps by restructuring the task or seeking more position power.

There has been considerable research on Fiedler's model, generating both support and criticism for his ideas. Criticisms of the model include its neglect of leaders who score in the middle on the LPC scale, the use of the LPC scale itself, the fact that many leaders can and do change their behaviours, and the relative lack of consideration of other situational characteristics related to the group. Nonetheless, Fiedler's contingency theory was one of the first to recognize the importance of the situation to leadership effectiveness, and it sensitized managers and researchers alike to the ineffectiveness of the one-best-way approach to leadership.

 

 

1. Which of these statements expresses the main idea of the text?

 

a) According to Fred Fiedler, successful leadership requires matching leaders with mainly stable leadership styles to the demands of the sit≠uation.

b) According to Fred Fiedler, a leader's style is rooted in his or her personality and is stable regardless of the situation.

c) Whether a relationship-oriented or task-oriented leader will be successful depends on the favourability of the situation.

d) Fiedler's contingency theory was one of the first to recognize the importance of the situation to leadership effectiveness.

 

 

3. Are these statements true or false? Correct the false ones.

 

a) The evident value of Fiedler's theory is how he characterizes and measures leadership style.

b) Task-oriented leaders always emphasize getting the job done in addition to much concern for their subordinates' feelings.

c) Fiedler's critics deny that people are capa≠ble of learning and changing their behaviours.

d) Leader-member relations are the most important determinant of the favourability of the situation.

e) Task structure is the extent to which a task is well described or has standard procedures for goal attainment.

f) The most favourable situation is one in which leader-member relations are good, the task is structured, and the leader has little formal power.

g) In his research, Fiedler found that task-oriented leaders tended to be most effective in the situations of moderate favourableness.

h) Criticisms of the Fiedlerís model include the absolute lack of consideration of other situational characteristics related to the group.

i) Fiedler's contingency theory made man≠agers and researchers understand the ineffectiveness of the one-best-way approach to leadership.

4. Answer the questions.

 

a) Does Fiedlerís contingency theory suggest that leaders adjust their behaviours to meet the situational needs of subordinates?

b) What should be done if a leader's style does not match the situation?

c) What other leaderís style is relationship-oriented leaderís style like?

d) Did Fiedler think that a leader's style was changing depending on the situation?

e) What is the main concern of relationship-oriented leaders?

f) What is Fiedler's LPC scale like?

g) How do task-oriented leaders and relationship-oriented leasers differ in describing their co-workers?

h) What does the favourability of the situation suggest?

i) What does position power mean?

j) In what situations are relationship-oriented leaders most effective according to Fiedler?

k) How would Fiedler advise the leader to alter the situation if the leader's style does not match the situational demands?

 

5. Write a summary of the text.

TEXT 22


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1221


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