Where Did the Theory Come From?
Leadership has and will continue to be one of the critical elements in the society. In spite of this notion, there are various questions, which tend to arise regarding the concept of leadership. According to my theory, Fiedler’s Contingency Model, there is no one best style concerning leadership. Rather, a leader’s effectiveness relates to the situation concerned with two critical factors: leadership style and situational control (situational favorableness). The paper will explore the development of this theory based on the role Fiedler sought to enhance understanding of the concept of leadership.
Is there any natural leadership style? Do leaders focus on completion of tasks or building relationships with their teams? Have researchers been able to consider that this natural leadership style might be more suitable to certain situations that it is to other instances? Are there appropriate theories highlighting effective leadership styles? Why is it that certain managers get to know their employees while others are concentrating on executing the job at hand? These questions did guide my urge to enhance my understanding of the concept of leadership.
Being a scientist with substantive knowledge of personality and characteristics of individuals, I had the opportunity to embark on the creation of a theoretical model for understanding the concept of leadership. In the early 1950s, I focused on the investigation of the potential relationship between the competence of therapists and perceptions concerning their patients. The findings of this experiment did guide my perspective on the potentiality of the relationship between leaders’ perceptions of their coworkers and leadership effectiveness. In these investigations, I did include the Assumed Similarity between Opposites (ASo) obtained through computation of the difference between two sets of semantic differential ratings (Fiedler, 1978). In one set, I sought to encourage the leaders to describe their LPC (Least Preferred Coworker) while using another set to enable them to describe their MPC (Most Preferred Coworker). In this experiment, I focused on the utilization of the ASo scores as the indicators of the ‘leadership style.’
In the next decade, I focused on working with my colleagues at the University of Illinois to facilitate investigation of the leadership effectiveness among various groups. In 1964, these findings were critical in the documentation of the ‘contingency hypothesis.’ This is through categorization of the leadership situations based on their status: high or low concerning three critical variables (Miller, Butler, & Cosentino, 2004). These variables include group atmosphere, task structure, and position power. The variables were critical in the documentation of a single metric concerning ‘situational favorableness.’
The next step was plotting the correlations between ASo/LPC scores and the performance of the group based on the different levels of ‘situational favorableness.’ Based on this research, it is ideal to elaborate on the concepts in the statements mentioned above. For instance, situation favorableness tends to occur in three critical dimensions: leader-member relations, task configuration, and leader control. Task structure refers to the extent to which responsibilities can undergo explanation and structuring for the employees. On the other hand, leader’s authority from his or her position relates to the extent to which the leader in question owns natural power based on the position. Finally, leader-member relationships relate to the aspects of trust, confidence, and respect between the leader and employees.
The first step towards utilization of this leadership model is the identification of the leadership style. I believe that leadership style is fixed, which makes it easier to conceptualize and measure using the LPC scale (Fiedler, Chemers, & Mahar, 1976). Categorically, task-oriented leaders tend to perceive their LPCs (least preferred coworkers) more negatively, thus, the generation of a lower score on the scale. According to the results of the scale, such leaders are low LPC-leaders. Evidently, the low LPCs are effective leaders, especially at the completion of tasks. Such leaders have the tendency to demonstrate efficiency and quickness in organizing groups for the completion of the tasks and projects.
On the other hand, low LPCs’ leaders do not prioritize relationship building among the employees in the achievement of the organizational goals and targets. Nonetheless, there is a second group of the leaders, relationship-oriented leaders. These leaders have the tendency to perceive their LPCs more positively, thus, the platform for the realization of higher scores in the conceptualization of the high-LPC leaders. Such leaders focus on the personal connections or relationship building, which demonstrates their ability and expertise at avoiding, as well as managing conflict effectively. The high-LPC leaders are effective and efficient in making complex decisions (Butts & Rich, 2013). The efficacy of the workers or employees relates to how effective a counterpart occurs between the static management style of the leader and the burdens of the condition.
In the integration of this theory into nursing, it is ideal to highlight the enormous influence of the personality of the leader in the determination of the leadership style. The effectiveness of the leader depends on the extent of control and influence, which are situations the leader aims at creating and experiencing over group’s behavior, outcome, and task, thus, elements of the situational control (Mohanty & Rich, 2011). The fascinating feature of this theoretical framework is the acknowledgment of the influence of various influences in the situational outcomes in the midst of leadership approach and situational control. Based on these attributes, it is vital for the leadership to match needs of the situation in the demonstration of the essence of flexibility.
The ability of an individual to be a good leader plays a critical role in influencing the development or conceptualization of the interrelationships concerning the leader and the workers. In the context of nursing, task-oriented leaders have the tendency to demonstrate more influence, as well as control in the midst of favorable conditions (Al-Sawai, 2013). Categorically, favorable conditions might include the tendency of the leader to enjoy acceptance by the followers, structuring of the tasks effectively, and possessing of the strong position power by the leader in question.
Alternatively, leaders will have minimal influence and control in the lack of acceptance from the followers, relatively complex tasks of the group, unstructured duties or tasks, and little position power. For leaders to achieve success in nursing; there is a need for strong leader-member relations. In this aspect, it is appropriate for the leaders to engage in the presentation of the tasks precisely and clearly while handing out rewards and punishments. The theory proves to be efficient in groups demanding close supervision rather than the team-based platform.
Conclusively, the defining trait of leadership in this theory is the leader’s disposition. In the development of the Fiedler’s Contingency Model, the theorist highlights that there is no one best style concerning leadership. From the above illustrations, this theory highlights the existence of situational-contingent factors with the intention of influencing leaders’ abilities to execute their leadership obligations.
1. Al-Sawai, A. (2013), “Leadership of healthcare professionals: where do we stand?” Oman medical journal, 28 (4), 285
2. Butts, J. B., & Rich, K. L. (2013), “Philosophies and theories for advanced nursing practice,” Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
3. Fiedler, F. E. (1978), “The contingency model and the dynamics of the leadership process,” Advances in experimental social psychology, 11, 59-112.
4. Fiedler, F. E., Chemers, M. M., & Mahar, L. (1976), “Improving leadership effectiveness: The leader match concept,” John Wiley & Sons.
5. Miller, R. L., Butler, J., & Cosentino, C. J. (2004), “Followership effectiveness: an extension of Fiedler’s contingency model,” Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 25(4), 362-368.
6. Mohanty, A., & Rich, K. L. (2011), ‘Philosophies and Theories for Advanced Nursing Practice,” Jones & Bartlett Publishers.