Basic Approaches to Leadership - Contingency Theories (Name) (Institution) (Professor) (Course) (Date) Basic Approaches to Leadership - Contingency Theories Leadership has been a topic of research for many years and numerous theories have been formulated to explain it…
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Leadership is an “observable set of skills and abilities that are useful in any work society, community or society” (Kouzes & Posner, 2009). Leadership is best defined as - “the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” (Chemers, 1997). Over the years, many theories of leadership have been proposed: trait theories, contingency theories, situational theories, behavioural theories, participative theories, management theories and relationship theories. This paper is aimed at understanding the various contingency theories of leadership and identifying the one which is most accurate. Contingency Theory of Leadership Contingency theory of leadership was one of the first leadership theories that accepted that there is no single leadership style or model that would best suit all situations. Contingency theories were formulated on the idea that leaders need to adapt to different situations and need to be flexible. Behavioural leadership theories are the basis of contingency theories. According to contingency theory, leadership depends on the numerous environmental variables such as the situational demands, qualities of followers, workplace culture, job at hand, overall environment and the leadership style itself (Lussier & Achua, 2009). Contingency theory is based on the following four assumptions: A leadership style is dependent on the demands of the situation and a single leadership style is not applicable to all situations. Leadership is not a born talent and it can be learned Leadership is successful on only when the situational contingencies are understood Effective leadership is possible only when there is a match between the leadership style, behaviour or personality and situational demands (Lussier & Achua, 2009) Following are some of the contingency theories proposed: Fiedler Model: Fiedler model was proposed by Fred Fiedler and was the first contingency model. According to this, the effectiveness of a group or its performance was dependent on the match between the leadership style and degree of control the situation allowed to the leader. Hence, the effectiveness of the leader depends of the leadership style and 3 key situational factors: relationship of the leader and the follower, position power and task structure (Robbins, 2009). Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Theory: The situational theory proposed by Hersey and Blanchard focuses mainly on the characteristics of the followers. According to this, the characteristic of the followers is the main element of the situation and is the deciding factor in the leadership behaviour/style adopted by the leader. That is, the readiness of the followers to carry out a task influences the leadership style. A different leadership style is needed when the follower’s task readiness is low (needs training and constant guidance) and when the follower’s task readiness is high (posses right skills and attitude along with willingness and confidence). Therefore, a leader needs to be flexible and adopt to the situation. A leader can adopt any of the four leadership styles (delegating, participating, selling and telling) depending on the situational factors (Daft & Lane, 2007). Leader-Member Exchange Theory: This is a very interesting contingency theory that argues that leaders try to establish a special relationship with a small group who possess similar attitude, demographic and personality characters as that of the leader. That
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