Contingency Theories of Leadership

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Contingency Theories of Leadership

Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa are just few of the names that come to mind whenever we think of great leaders. They have a vision of what they want and have the ability to communicate their vision in order to gain the support and cooperation of their followers. Often we find it easy to identify great leaders yet it is difficult to explain the qualities that make them great. In comparison, Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher reinforce the fact that leaders have very different qualities and that leadership success is more complex than just identifying few traits or preferable behaviors. People who were studying the leadership phenomena then turned to the idea that effective leadership was dependent on a mix of factors. The Contingency Theories of leadership was developed to shed light on the leadership phenomenon.

Fred Fiedler developed the first comprehensive contingency model for leadership. The Fiedler Contingency model proposes that effective group performance depends upon the proper match between the leader's style and the degree to which the situation gives control to the leader. In applying Fiedler's model, one should seek to match leaders and situations. Former Philippine president Joseph Ejercito Estrada is a perfect fit for the Fielder model. He was an exemplary head for MOWELFUND or the Actors' Guild of the Philippines. He was effective in presiding over his peers. But as the country's head of state he was just a complete and utter failure. He was like a fish out of water. Taken out of his comfort zone (the Philippine cinema), he was of no benefit to our country's governance.

Do leaders treat all their followers in the same manner or do they have favorites? A person who thinks that leaders indeed have favorites could well be a supporter of the Leader-Member Exchange Theory which argues that leaders establish a special relationship only with a handful of...
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