Contingency Theory of Leadership

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Contingency Theory of Leadership

The most popular and extensively researched situational theory of leadership was first proposed by Fred Piedler during the 1960s. Fiedler's model claims that group performance depends on the interaction of the leader style and the favorableness of the situation. Fiedlers major contributions consist of(l) iden-tifying the leadership orientation of the leader and developing a way to measure it, and (2) identifying three situational factors influencing leadership and developing a method of measuring them

Leader orientation. Fiedler's definition of the leader's orientation emerged largely from earlier studies in which leaders were classified as either relation-ship-oriented or task-oriented. Relationship-oriented leaders look at others as coworkers and see close interpersonal relations as a requirement for accom-plishing the task. Task-oriented leaders show a strong emotional reaction against people with whom they have difficulty working. If they are forced to make a choice between getting the job done or worrying about interpersonal relations, they choose the task first and worry about interpersonal relations later. Following earlier research, Fiedler suggested that individuals could be placed along one continuum characterized by two basic leader orientations: relationship-oriented versus task-oriented.

LPC scale. Leadership orientation is measured by the least preferred co-worker (LPC) scale. Individuals are asked to think of a person with whom they have worked who they least preferred as a co-worker, and describe this person using sixteen scales. When the responses arc summed, an individual with a favorable description of the least preferred co-worker would have a high LPC score, suggesting a relationship-oriented leader. An unfavorable description of the least preferred coworker would result in a low score, suggesting a task-oriented leader.

Difficulty in interpreting the LPC scores has been a problem for Fiedler's...
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