Contingency Models



Leadership styles cannot be fully explained by behavioural models. The situation in which the group is operating also determines the style of leadership which is adopted.
Several models exist which attempt to understand the relationship between style and situation, four of which are described here:

The models described have limited validity, but are still widely used.
Fiedler's Contigency Model
Hersey-Blanchard Situational Theory
Path-Goal Theory
Vroom-Yetton Leadership Model
References



Fiedler's Contingency model

Fiedler's model assumes that group performance depends on:

High levels of these three factors give the most favourable situation, low levels, the least favourable. Relationship-motivated leaders are most effective in moderately favourable situations. Task-motivated leaders are most effective at either end of the scale.
Fiedler suggests that it may be easier for leaders to change their situation to achieve effectiveness, rather than change their leadership style.

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Hersey-Blanchard Situational Theory

This theory suggests that leadership style should be matched to the maturity of the subordinates. Maturity is assessed in relation to a specific task and has two parts:

As the subordinate maturity increases, leadership should be more relationship-motivated than task-motivated. For four degrees of subordinate maturity, from highly mature to highly immature, leadership can consist of:

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Path-Goal Theory

Evans and House suggest that the performance, satisfaction and motivation of a group can be affected by the leader in a number of ways:

A person may do these by adopting a certain leadership style, according to the situation: Supportive behaviour increases group satisfaction, particularly in stressful situations, while directive behaviour is suited to ambiguous situations. It is also suggested that leaders who have influence upon their superiors can increase group satisfaction and performance.

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Vroom-Yetton Leadership Model

This model suggests the selection a leadership style for making a decision. There are five decision making styles:

The style is chosen by the consideration of seven questions, which form a decision tree. This is described in Leadership and Decision Making, by V.H.Vroom and P.W.Yetton, pp.41-42, published by University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973.

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References

D.S.Pugh, 'Organization Theory - Selected Readings', Penguin Books, pp417-424, 1990

Robert P.Vecchio, 'Organizational Behavior', Dryden Press, pp286-304, 1988

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Most recent revision 7 Feb 1997