Fiedler and Garcia - Essay Example

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This essay discusses that Fiedler and Garcia’s Cognitive Resource Theory (1987) identifies the traits of a leader. Two characteristics are identified and investigated in this theory – intelligence and experience. The efficacy of these characteristics is assessed as indicators of leadership…
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Fiedler and Garcia
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Discuss what is known about the theory from a research perspective. Do the ideas work or not? Are there any practical recommendations for leaders that come from the theory?
Fiedler and Garcia’s Cognitive Resource Theory (1987) identifies the traits of a leader. Two characteristics are identified and investigated in this theory – intelligence and experience. The efficacy of these characteristics is assessed as indicators of leadership. Other scholars before have proved intelligence as a predictor of leadership.
The Cognitive Resource Theory suggests that the leader should choose between experience and intelligence according to a circumstance. According to the theory a leader’s degree of stress determines the situation. (Goethals & Sorenson, 2004, p. 1430) Therefore the stress caused to the leader in a certain situation decides the reliance on intelligence or experience. The theory predicts that uncertainty and stress are the two factors, which worry a leader. Fiedler connects this to his Least Preferred Co-worker Theory (LPC theory) where a high LPC leader will be more likely to give high scores to the people he has worked with earlier while a low LPC leader will be more inclined to assign low scores for the same. When the control of a leader over a situation and his LPC score are in tune with each other, good performance of leadership will result. Again, when a low LPC score leader is in a situation of moderate control and high LPC leaders are in situations of high control or low control, the LPC and situational control are not in line with each other. The transition from his “in match” condition to the not “in mach” condition will bring about stress and worries in the leader owing to a “perceived inability to deal with situations of this nature” (Miner, 2005, p.250).
When a particular circumstance causes anxiety in the leader he tries to gain confidence from his “previous successful reinforced behavioral patterns”. On one hand the affective level finds this behavior has dealt with earlier cases of dealing with inter personal issues while on the other hand, the cognitive level finds that such behaviors show what one learnt from experience. The efficacy of the behavior of the leader is conditioned by the matching of the situations’ demands and the leader’s response to the same. Thus the model works under two assumptions. First, managers let their subordinates know their plans via directive behavior and second, leaders with greater experience and smartness have better decision making ability than the ones who are less intelligent or experienced. As per the theory, intelligence plays a role when an individual is in stress free condition while experiences plays a role under stressful condition. (Toshi, Mero & Rizzo, 2000, p.466)
When empirical studies were carried out, one study revealed that intelligence has been strongly related to performance of a team while another showed that performance of a team which was technically trained or skilled has been performing better when a leader is non directive. However strong support for the study is yet to be derived apart form ones performed by Fiedler where he carried out the study amongst military officers who has untrained and inexperienced recruits. The results showed that experience and intelligence had no impact in a leader intensive profession. He carried out studies in post offices, craft shops etc where training information were accessible (Chemers, 1997, p.39).
Hence, one may say that when a leader is under stressful conditions, intelligence does not function efficiently or with full effect and even might have a negative impact. A leader should search for previous experience under similar situations from where he might derive some strength and decision making power. Again under a high stress scenario, the intelligence is often damaged, but experience might help the leader respond well to the situation. Again when the task is simple then the leaders’ effectiveness does not matter because even the subordinate will be able to handle it. (Cognitive Resource Theory n.d.) Therefore when the situation is stressful a leader with greater experience will be more reliable to handle it. When a leader has lesser level of experience he should undertake relatively stress free assignments and the level of stress should be gradually increased with experience.
Chemers, M.M. (1997), An Integrative Theory of Leadership, London: Routledge.
Cognitive Resource Theory (n.d.), Changing Minds, retrieved on November 17, 2010 <>
Goethals, G.R. & G.J. Sorenson. (2004), Encyclopedia of Leadership, London: SAGE.
Toshi, H.L. Mero, N.P. & J.P. Rizzo. (2000), Managing Organizational Theory. New York: Wiley-Blackwell. Read More
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