Fiedler’s Contingency Model of Leadership: Matching the Leader to the Situation

There is no one optimum leadership style, according to Fiedler’s Contingency Theory, also known as Fiedler’s Contingency Model or Fiedler’s Theory of Leadership. Instead, a leadership approach that is in line with the circumstance is always the most successful. Professor Fred Fiedler, an Austrian psychologist, created the hypothesis in the 1960s. He investigated the personalities and traits of leaders and came to the conclusion that since a person’s leadership style is shaped by their life experiences, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to alter. Fiedler held the opinion that the correct leader must be selected for each task based on their skill set and the demands of the circumstance. Each leader must first identify their natural leadership style in order to effectively match circumstances with them. They must next assess if their management approach is appropriate for the circumstance. Fiedler concluded that two elements affect a leader’s likelihood of success:

Also Read: OLI: Choosing the Right Entry-Mode Strategy

Situational variables

Fiedler proposed three contextual factors. These three factors when combined result in a scenario that is either favourable, moderately favourable, or unfavourable for leaders. These elements are:

  • Leader-Member Relations: This is the degree of faith and assurance a group of people has in a leader. A leader who is more respected and influential inside the group is in a better position than one who is unreliable. Fiedler categorizes ties between leaders and followers as either excellent or bad.
  • Task Structure: This speaks to the kind of work that followers are expected to perform. For instance, tasks may be precise and organized or general and unstructured. Unstructured tasks or a lack of team or leader understanding of how to complete a task create an unfavourable circumstance. Task structure is classified by Fiedler as either high or low.
  • Leader’s Position Power: This is the authority a leader possesses to guide the group and impose rewards or penalties. The scenario is more favourable the more authority a leader has. According to French and Raven’s bases of power, there are several sources of power, including coercive, expert, and referent power. According to Fiedler, a leader’s positional authority might be strong or weak.

Fiedler’s Contingency Model of Leadership Matching the Leader to the Situation-1

Matching the Leader Style to the Situation

You may construct a range of leadership scenarios, ranging from extremely favourable to highly unfavourable, by combining the aforementioned situational elements (Figure 1). A favourable environment would normally be one where the leader and members get along well, the responsibilities are well-defined and organized, and the leader holds a significant amount of authority. Fiedler discovered a pattern when looking at how various circumstances and leadership philosophies interacted. The two leadership philosophies that Fiedler studied are comparable to those that Blake and Mouton employ. They are as follows:

  • Task-oriented leadership style: These leaders offer directions, highlight deadlines, spend time preparing, point followers in the direction of goals, and give clear timetables of job activities. They only want to do the task.
  • Relationship-oriented leadership style: These leaders respect their followers’ opinions and feelings, build trust amongst them, are approachable, encourage open communication, foster cooperation, and have their followers’ best interests in mind.

Task-oriented: Highly favourable or highly unfavourable situation

According to Fiedler, the task-oriented leader succeeds best in favourable circumstances. This is due to the team’s cohesiveness, the task’s clarity and organization, and the leader’s adequate influence over followers. The team merely requires a leader who can give guidance in such a circumstance. The same leadership style is regarded as being more effective than a relationship-focused leader in a severely unfavourable scenario. This is due to the lack of task organization in an unfavourable environment, which calls for a leader who can provide a lot of structure and direction. Furthermore, since there are already bad member-leader ties, the popularity of a nice relationship-focused leader won’t change.

Relationship-oriented: Moderate favourable situation

However, it is discovered that the relationship-focused leader performs better under circumstances of intermediate favorability. In these circumstances, the group’s leader may have a mediocre level of popularity, some positional authority, and supervision duties over relatively regimented chores. In this situation, interpersonal skills are crucial for achieving collective performance. According to Fiedler, a leader with excellent interpersonal abilities may foster an environment that will enhance relationships between the leader and group members, clarify duties and provide more structure, as well as develop a stronger position of authority.

Fiedler’s Contingency Model In Sum

Before selecting whether to adopt a relationship- or task-oriented leadership style, Fiedler contends that leaders should consider a variety of contextual or situational considerations. If a leader can’t “match” their own leadership style to the needs of the circumstance, they have very little chance of succeeding. As a result, the best course of action is to either replace the leader depending on the situational circumstances (leader-member relations, task structure, and the leader’s position authority) or to alter the scenario to the leader’s liking. The suitable leadership style may be determined with the use of Fiedler’s Contingency Model. The Managerial Grid by Blake and Mouton and the Situational Leadership Model by Hersey and Blanchard are further frameworks for leadership that are helpful in this regard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *