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What is Fiedler’s Contingency Theory?

fielder's contingency theory

Those who study leadership or are in a management position within their organization may ask themselves, “What is Fiedler’s Contingency Theory?”. This popular leadership model posits the belief that a person’s effectiveness as a leader is in direct proportion to how well that individual’s style of leadership matches the situation. The basis of this theory is that there is no one right way to lead a team. It also relies upon the understanding that a person’s leadership style is fixed; it does not change over time. Read on to learn more about this management theory and how it relates to the world of leadership.

What Is Fiedler’s Contingency Theory?

There are other contingency theories that are popular in the world of business and leadership, beyond Fiedler’s. Students and professionals should understand that a contingency theory, in this context, is one that emphasizes the fact that strong leadership is dependent upon an organization’s circumstances and that there is no one singular best way to lead a team. Rather, the best way to perform leadership duties is contingent upon factors such as organizational culture, team composition and the task at hand.

With that being said, Chron shares how Fiedler’s Contingency Model also is of the belief that there is no one correct way to lead. Fiedler posits that what is best is determined by the situation. What also matters in this approach is that a person’s style does not change. Therefore, it is impossible to alter one’s leadership style in order to fit a particular context or circumstance. A leader should be chosen based upon the factors at play in order to ensure the best fit.

How to Use This Model

A person’s leadership style is based upon the ways in which they rate their least preferred co-worker. Those who rate the person they least prefer to work with more favorably are said to be more relationship-oriented. Those of the opposite view are more task-oriented. Relationship-oriented leaders excel at interpersonal relationships, the motivation of personnel and conflict management. Those with a task-oriented style tend to be good at project organization, team management and getting things done.

Fiedler’s Contingency Theory examines how much control a leader has over a situation in order to determine fit. Leaders are in a better position when trust is high, tasks are clear and authority is high

Advantages of Fiedler’s Contingency Theory

There are a number of advantages to this model when it comes to leadership. The first lies in its simplicity. It’s easy to understand and is applicable across various situations. Thus, it’s also flexible. Administrators can use this theory to help place managers and supervisors in appropriate team settings in order to establish the best possible leadership outcomes.

It’s fairly straightforward in its predictions. Leaders who are relationship-oriented should be placed in situations with less structured tasks. Those who are task-oriented will do better where the environment’s tasks are better structured.

This theory has a wide variety of applications. It’s held up well and stood the test of time within the field of leadership. Hopefully, this summary has answered the question, “What is Fiedler’s Contingency Theory?”

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