The Fiedler contingency model of leadership was developed by Fred Edward Fiedler. It states that leadership is determined by an individual and the environment or people he or she intends to lead. In this case, the word contingency has been derived from the name contingent, which means people with a certain relation. They could be workmates under the same supervision or employees in the same organization. Leadership is defined as the ability to influence people to act or do what is expected of them. For a leader to be efficient, he or she must have strong character in order to set the pace for his or her subordinates.
This particular leadership theory is applicable depending on the situation at hand. The factors to consider in determining the situation include the relationship between the leader and his or her subordinates; the nature of duties to be done; and how powerful the leader is. If the relationship between the leader and followers is strong and they trust their leader, then he or she will influence them easily. Knowledge of the tasks to be done is important because it determines how the situation will be viewed. If the duties are unclear then the situation is not favorable. The stronger the power a leader has the better. This is because it will be easier to implement what is expected.
Fiedler discovered that a leader who is focused on carrying out tasks or an authoritative leader fits best in areas that are not favoring. Relationship-oriented leadership fits well in areas that are favoring or fairly favoring. For this theory to be implemented, Fiedler says that there are certain steps that should be followed. The first step is to determine the leadership style in use. To do this, one has to evaluate his or her relationship with a former least-preferred workmate. This step will enable a leader to identify whether he or she is using the employee-oriented style of leadership or the task-oriented approach.
The next step is to identify the situation a leader is handling. This is determined by factors such as how the relationship is between employees and the leader. If it is healthy and strong then the situation is favoring. If it is poor then the situation is not favoring. The task factor is vital too. If the leader has clear knowledge of tasks and there is a structure, it is concluded that the situation is favoring. In case there is no structure of tasks and they are unclear to the leader, the situation is not favoring. The level of power a leader has is an important determinant as well. The more powerful the leader is, the more the situation gets favorable.
The final step is concluding which leadership style suits best. For instance, an employee has been appointed a team leader. Since he or she has never led before, his or her followers do not have trust in the leadership. Such kind of a leader would utilize employee-oriented leadership, with the aim of instilling trust in the subordinates. A leader may have won his or her followers trust and has power. Unfortunately, the kind of task is unstructured so it is vague. Such kind of a leader is advised to adopt a task-oriented style.
Fiedler’s theory of leadership is beneficial to managers or leaders because it assists them to select a favorable leadership style. This model is also helpful to the leaders because they can evaluate themselves and determine what kind of leaders they are. However, it has several shortcomings. It has been noted that the model is rigid, especially to the leaders. They have not been given room for flexibility on how they change. Fiedler asserts that for effective leadership, the leader should change according to the situation.
Another limitation acknowledged by Fiedler is that this theory can only be implemented on a group with common and close supervision. It cannot be applied on some groups like a bowling team. This is because such members bring together their yields to get a common achievement. This model does not cater for intermediate results. For example, the situation can be described to be either favorable or not favorable. There are no solutions if a situation would be averagely favorable.
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