Statement of Understanding
Contingency and Situational Theories of Leadership
Successful organizations have one thing in common that sets them apart: dynamic and effective leadership (Hambleton, 1982). So what is it that makes them dynamic and effective? Before diving into the different theories of leadership, I decided to spend some time understanding what exactly leadership is. To understand what leadership is I had to start with the root of the word “lead”. The definition of lead according to dictionary.com is to go before or with to show the way. This definition originates from the Anglo – Saxon lad or leadan meaning a path, a way, to lead, or to give a sense of direction (Peretomode, 2012). Nothing in this definition states that the leader has to be a person of power, in management or even the boss. To be a leader you have to be able to use your spear of influence to show others the way and help them get there successfully. Simply put, leadership is a path to create a clear vision of what needs to be done, give others guidance and self-confidence and provide coordination and communication(Pires da Cruz, Nunes, and Pinheiro, 2011). Organizations require leaders to stimulate their employees, push their initiatives, and instill a sense of commitment to the company (Pires da Cruz et al., 2011). For organizations to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace they must have effective leaders. Vroom and Jago, 2007 defined leadership as “A process of motivating people to work together collaboratively to accomplish great things”. They listed the below implications of this definition. 1. Leadership is a process, not a property of a person
2. The process involves a particular form of influence called motivating. 3. The nature of the incentives, extrinsic or intrinsic, is not part of the definition. 4. The consequence of the influence is collaboration in pursuit of a common goal. 5. The “great things” are in the minds of both leader and followers and are not necessarily viewed as desirable by all other parties. Understanding the definition of leadership will help set the foundation for the study of the various leadership models studied throughout the years. As we dive into the Contingency and Situational leadership theories we hope to gain a better understanding of how these models relate to today’s leaders. We will study the theory behind each model, the effect the models have on things like performance, employee satisfaction, personal experience, and situational theory. Contingency Leadership
In the 60’s & 70’s there was much debate among researchers, scholars, and leaders regarding the “situational theory of leadership” versus the “one best style of leadership” (Pires da Cruz et al., 2011). In 1964 Fiedler first published his contingency theory model. Since then this model has continued to be the topic of much research. Contingency theories of leadership look at how various situational factors impact the effectiveness of leadership style. Fiedler’s basic thesis is that the relationship between leadership effectiveness and leadership style has a direct correlation to the demands of a particular situation (Rice and Kastenbaum, 1983). In other words, being an effective leader is just as dependent upon the situation the group is facing as it is on the individual leader (Utecht and Heier, 1976). It assumes is that a leader’s characteristics, behavior, and leadership style are only partial factors in the making of a leader (Pires da Cruz et al., 2011). In this model a leader is assessed using their response to an attitude scale known as the Least Preferred Co-Worker or LPC scale. A person with a high LPC score is considered to be motivated by having close interpersonal relationships and strong group support. They are said to be a relationship motivated leader. A leader who is motivated more by tangible evidence of their accomplishment are said to be task oriented leaders and generally have a...
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