The Fiedler contingency model is a leadership theory of industrial and organizational psychology developed by Fred Fiedler (born 1922), one of the leading scientists who helped his field move from the research of traits and personal characteristics of leaders to leadership styles and behaviours.
The first management style, Taylorists, assumed there was one best style of leadership. Fiedler’s contingency model postulates that the leader’s effectiveness is based on ‘situational contingency’ which is a result of interaction of two factors: leadership style and situational favorableness (later called situational control). More than 400 studies have since investigated this relationship
Least preferred co-worker (LPC)
The leadership style of the leader, thus, fixed and measured by what he calls the least preferred co-worker (LPC) scale, an instrument for measuring an individual’s leadership orientation. The LPC scale asks a leader to think of all the people with whom they have ever worked and then describe the person with whom they have worked least well, using a series of bipolar scales of 1 to 8, such as the following: |Unfriendly |1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 |Friendly | |Uncooperative |1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 |Cooperative | |Hostile |1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 |Supportive | |.... |1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 |.... | |Guarded |1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 |Open |
The responses to these scales (usually 18-25 in total) are summed and averaged: a high LPC score suggests that the leader has a human relations orientation, while a low LPC score indicates a task orientation. Fiedler assumes that everybody's least preferred coworker in fact is on average about equally unpleasant. But people who are indeed relationship motivated, tend to describe their least preferred coworkers in a more positive manner, e.g., more pleasant and more efficient. Therefore, they receive higher LPC scores. People who are task motivated, on the other hand, tend to rate their least preferred coworkers in a more negative manner. Therefore, they receive lower LPC scores. So, the Least Preferred Coworker (LPC) scale is actually not about the least preferred worker at all, instead, it is about the person who takes the test; it is about that person's motivation type. This is so, because, individuals who rate their least preferred coworker in relatively favorable light on these scales derive satisfaction out of interpersonal relationship, and those who rate the coworker in a relatively unfavorable light get satisfaction out of successful task performance. This method reveals an individual's emotional reaction to people they cannot work with. Critics point out that this is not always an accurate measurement of leadership effectiveness. Situational favourableness
According to Fiedler, there is no ideal leader. Both low-LPC (task-oriented) and high-LPC (relationship-oriented) leaders can be effective if their leadership orientation fits the situation. The contingency theory allows for predicting the characteristics of the appropriate situations for effectiveness. Three situational components determine the favourableness of situational control: 1. Leader-Member Relations, referring to the degree of mutual trust, respect and confidence between the leader and the subordinates. 2. Task Structure, referring to the extent to which group tasks are clear and structured. 3. Leader Position Power, referring to the power inherent in the leader's position itself. When there is a good leader-member relation, a highly structured task, and high leader position power, the situation is considered a "favorable situation." Fiedler found that low-LPC leaders are more effective in extremely favorable or unfavourable situations, whereas high-LPC leaders perform best in situations with intermediate favourability. Leader-situation match and mismatch