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Leadership. Chapter 6 - Contingency Theory. Northouse, 5 th edition. Overview. Contingency Theory Approach Perspective Leadership Styles Situational Variables Research Findings of Leader Style Effectiveness How Does the Contingency Theory Approach Work?.

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leadership

Leadership

Chapter 6 - Contingency Theory

Northouse, 5th edition

overview

Overview

Contingency Theory Approach Perspective

Leadership Styles

Situational Variables

Research Findings of Leader Style Effectiveness

How Does the Contingency Theory Approach Work?

contingency theory approach description
Contingency Theory Approach Description

Perspective

  • Contingency theory is a leader-match theory (Fiedler & Chemers, 1974)
    • Tries to match leaders to appropriate situations
  • Leader’s effectivenessdepends on how well the leader’s style fits the context
  • Fiedler’s generalizations about which styles of leadership are best and worst are based on empirically grounded generalizations
contingency theory approach description1
Contingency Theory Approach Description
  • Assessment based on:
    • Leadership Styles
    • Situational Variables

Definition

  • Effective leadership is contingent on matching a leader’s style to the right setting
leadership styles
Leadership styles are described as:

Task-motivated (Low LPCs)

Leaders are concerned primarily with reaching a goal

Relationship-motivated (High LPCs)

Leaders are concerned with developing close interpersonal relationships

Least Preferred Co-Worker (LPC) Scale

High LPCs = Relationship-motivated

Low LPCs = Task-motivated

Leadership Styles

Leader Style Measurement Scale (Fiedler)

situational variables 3 factors
Leader-Member Relations

- Refers to the group atmosphere and the degree of confidence, loyalty, and attraction of followers for leader

Group atmosphere –

Good – high degree of subordinate trust, liking, positive relationship

Poor – little or no subordinate trust, friction exists, unfriendly

Situational Variables/3 Factors
situational variables 3 factors1
Task Structure

The degree to which requirements of a task are clear and spelled out

High Structure–

requirements/rules - are clearly stated/known

path to accomplish - has few alternatives

task completion - can be clearly demonstrated

limited number - correct solutions exist

Situational Variables/3 Factors
situational variables 3 factors2
Task Structure, cont’d.

Low Structure –

requirements/rules - not clearly stated/known

path to accomplish - has many alternatives

task completion - cannot be clearly demonstrated/verified

unlimited number - correct solutions exist

Situational Variables/3 Factors
situational variables 3 factors3
Position Power

Designates the amount of authority a leader has to reward or punish followers

Strong Power–

authority to hire or fire, give raises in rank or pay

Weak Power–

no authority to hire or fire, give raises in rank or pay

Situational Variables/3 Factors
situational variables 3 factors4
3 Factors - determine the favorableness of various situations in organizations

Situations that are rated:

Most Favorable -

good leader-follower relations,

defined tasks (high structure), &

strong leader position power

Situational Variables/3 Factors
situational variables 3 factors5
Situations that are rated:

Least Favorable -

Poor leader-follower relations,

unstructured tasks (low structure), &

Weak leader position power

Moderately Favorable –

Fall in between these extremes

Situational Variables/3 Factors
research findings of leader style effectiveness
Research Findings of Leader Style Effectiveness

Favorableness

of Situation

LPC Score

Definition

Low

Very Favorable

Very Unfavorable

Situations going smoothly

Situations out of control

Situations with some degree

of certainty; not completely

in or out of leader’s control

High

Moderately

Favorable

research findings of leader style effectiveness1
Research Findings of Leader Style Effectiveness
  • Reasons for leader mismatch, ineffectiveness:
  • LPC style doesn’t match a particular situation; stress and anxiety result
  • Under stress, leader reverts to less mature coping style learned in earlier development
  • Leader’s less mature coping style results in poor decision making and consequently negative work outcomes
how does the contingency theory approach work

How Does the Contingency Theory Approach Work?

Focus of Contingency Theory

Strengths

Criticisms

Application

contingency theory approach
By assessing the 3 situational variables, any organizational context can be placed in one of the 8 categories represented in the Contingency Theory Model

After the nature of a situation is determined, the fit between leader’s style and the situation can be evaluated

By measuring Leader’sLPC scoreandthe 3 situational variables, it is possible to predict whether a leader will be effective in a particular setting

Contingency Theory Approach

Focus

Overall Scope

how does contingency theory work
Effective in Categories –

1, 2, 3, & 8

If individual’s style matches appropriate category in the model, leader will be effective

If individual’s style does not match appropriate category in the model, leader will not be effective

How Does Contingency Theory Work?

Low LPCs – Task-Oriented

High LPCs – Relationship-Oriented

Effective in Categories –

4, 5, 6, & 7

Effective in Categories –

1, 2, & 3

Middle LPCs

how does contingency theory work1
How Does Contingency Theory Work?

How Does it Work?

  • Example:
    • Situation
      • Leader–Member Relation – Good
      • Task Structure – High
      • Position Power – High
      • Category – 1
      • Low LPC – (Individual who is task-oriented will be effective)
  • By measuring Leader’s LPC score and the 3 situational variables, it is possible to predict whether a leader will be effective in a particular setting
strengths
Strengths
  • Empirical support.Contingency theory has been tested by many researchers and found to be a valid and reliable approach to explaining how to achieve effective leadership.
  • Broadened understanding.Contingency theory has broadened the scope of leadership understanding from a focus on a single, best type of leadership (e.g., trait approach) to emphasizing the importance of a leader’s style and the demands of different situations.
  • Predictive.Because Contingency theory is predictive, it provides relevant information regarding the type of leadership that is most likely to be effective in particular contexts.
strengths1
Strengths
  • Not an all-or-nothing approach.Contingency theory contends that leaders should notexpect to be effective in every situation; thus companies should strive to place leaders in optimal situations according to their leadership style.
  • Leadership profiles.Contingency theory supplies data on leadership styles that could be useful to organizations in developing leadership profiles for human resource planning.
criticisms
Criticisms
  • Fails to fully explainwhy leaders with particular leadership styles are more effective in some situations than others
  • Criticism of LPC scalevalidityas it does not correlate well with other standard leadership measures
  • Cumbersometo use in real-world settings
  • Fails to adequately explain what should bedoneabout a leader/situation mismatch in the workplace
application
Useful in answering a multitude of questions about the leadership of individuals in various types of organizations

Helpful tool to assist upper management in making changes to lower level positions to ensure a good fit between an existing manager and a certain work context

Application
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