Introduction The contingency leadership perspective, pioneered by Fred E. Fiedler, claimed that the effectiveness of the leader depended on there being an appropriate match between the leader’s traits

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The contingency leadership perspective, pioneered by Fred E. Fiedler, claimed that the effectiveness of the leader depended on there being an appropriate match between the leader’s traits or behaviors and the demands and characteristics of the contingency or situation. Fiedler sought to identify the different types of leadership styles in certain situations and devised a scale called Least Preferred Coworker (LPC), an instrument that evaluates whether a person is task-oriented or relationship-oriented.

Fiedler’s contingency model is designed to predict the effectiveness of leadership styles in certain situations, on a scale from 1 to 8. For example, in instances of high situational control where leader-member relations are good, task structure is low, and the leader has strong position power, the model gives a score of 3, suggesting a low LPC leadership or task-driven style is most effective. Conversely, in instances of low situational control when leader–member relations are poor, task structure is high, and the leader has weak position power, the model assigns a rating of 6, suggesting a high LPC leadership or relationship-driven style is best. Fiedler found that the most favorable situations occurred when leader-member relations, task structure, and position power are all high because then leaders have the most control over the situation. Although Fiedler’s model is useful for matching optimal leadership styles to certain situations, it has been criticized for its lack of flexibility, primarily its assumption that leadership styles cannot be changed.

Discussion Questions

Read the following article to answer the discussion questions (link below).

Day, D. (1991). Adopting a contingency approach to one’s leadership style: From cognitive awareness to actual practice—as easy as it appears? Journal of Management Education, 15(3), 362-365.

“Adopting a contingency approach to one’s leadership style: From cognitive awareness to actual practice – as easy as it appears?” (Links to an external site.)

1. Compare and contrast the experiences and takeaways of the author in the context of student discussions in an Organizational Behavior class with a more traditional organizational setting with a manager and employees. How might the experiences be similar and how might they be different given another context?

2. If you were in the role of an OB professor, what are some leadership behaviors you would demonstrate in order to generate a higher level and quality of student discussion?

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