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Fiedler’s Contingency Theory shows the relationship between the leader’s orientation or style and group performance under differing situational conditions. The theory is based on determining the orientation of the leader (relationship or task), the elements of the situation (leader-member relations, task structure, and leader position power), and the leader orientation that was found to be most effective as the situation changed from low to moderate to high control. Fiedler found that task oriented leaders were more effective in low and moderate control situations and relationship oriented managers were more effective in moderate control situations.
Increasing effectiveness of the leader
Correlations between the leader’s orientation and the leader’s effectiveness Task Oriented
Increasing effectiveness of the leader Increasing favorableness to leader
Leader-member relations Task structure Leader position power Structured
Good Unstructured Structured
Strong Weak Strong Weak Strong Weak Strong Weak
High control situation
Moderate control situation
Low control situation
they tend to become bored and are no longer challenged. In low control situations. they devote themselves to their challenging task. and 4.) are the requirements of the task understood by everyone. low LPC leaders are more concerned with the task. 2. They are easy to get along with. As a result.) is there more than one correct solution. In high control situations. more punishing. They also tend to control the group tightly and maintain strict discipline. They tend to be insensitive to the feelings of their group members. If the group’s task is unstructured. they focus on group relations. the more favorable the situation. they become absorbed in obtaining group support often at the expense of the task. the ability of the leader to influence the group and the conditions under which he or she can do so. The more power the leader has. They become absorbed in the task and pay little attention to personal relations in the group. they do not interfere with the group or expect interference from their superiors. They organize and drive the group to task completion. As the work gets done. LPC scores between 65 and 72: If your score fall into this borderline area. They may seek approval from their superiors ignoring their subordinates. Leader Orientation Relationship Orientated: (LPC score of 73 and above) Generally. In low control situations. they tend to be anxious and less effective.) can a decision be demonstrated as correct. or they may try to reorganize the task. Task structure: Factors that determine task structure are 1. A leader who is accepted by the group members is in a more favorable situation than one who is not. They use their good relations with the group to get the job done.) is there more than one way to accomplish the task. This situation is often characterized by group conflict. high LPC leaders are more concerned with personal relations. failing to direct the group’s work. they may also withdraw from the leadership role. In high control situations. Rather. They tend to be eager and impatient to get on with the work. and thus reduce conflict. in part. They quickly organize the job and have a no-nonsense attitude about getting the work done. They reduce the anxiety and tension of group members. the situation is unfavorable. Group members often respect low LPC leaders for enabling them to reach the group’s goals in difficult situations. they often become inconsiderate toward their subordinates. Task Oriented: (LPC score of 64 and below) Generally. you must carefully analyze your leadership style as you learn more about the relationship oriented and task oriented styles. Leader position power: Position power is determined at its most basic level by the rewards and punishments which the leader officially has at his or her disposal for either rewarding or punishing the group members on the basis of performance. They handle creative decision making groups well. and better off at heading off conflict. Fiedler found that the effectiveness of the leader is “contingent” upon the orientation of the leader and the favorableness of the situation. more sensitive to the feelings of others. They are better able to deal with the complex issues in making decisions. they tend to relax and to develop pleasant relations with subordinates. They see this situation as challenging and interesting and perform well in it. and if the leader is no more knowledgeable that the group about how to accomplish the task. certain leadership styles are better suited for some situations than for others. . and more concerned with performance of the task. In moderate control situations. and less dependent on group support. and the group resents the lack of concern. which low LPC leaders do not like to handle.Contingency Theory Definitions Situational Elements Leader-member relations: The regard with which the leader and the group members hold one another determines. Note: There is no single leadership style that is effective in all situations. In moderate control situations. 3. Under extremely stressful situations.