Leadership Models 1Leadership is attributed to the success of any group and its effective performance.
As a concept, numerous studies and theorizing have abounded to explain it, where it is seen and how to explore its functions. Leadership research has had a colorful history and much of it have been focused on proposing different ways to define leadership. One of the most influential groups of theories in the study of leadership is the contingency models. The contingency models focus on the variables that can affect leadership, the situation, the members and the tasks, in general it says that explaining behavior through leadership traits and behaviors is not enough to get a complete picture of leadership.
This paper attempts to discuss and compare the contingency theories of leadership namely; the Fiedler contingency model, Hersey and Blanchard’s situational theory, the path-goal theory and the leader-participation model. This paper would give a brief discussion of the different models of leadership, to discuss their similarities and differences and how they can be applied to the organizational setting giving importance to how these models have been verified by different researches.
For this paper, leadership is defined as the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of goals (Bass, 1990). Fiedler ModelFred Fiedler was one of the earliest proponents of a leadership model that explicitly incorporated situational features.
The underlying assumption of this model of leadership effectiveness is that group performance is a function of the combination of a leader’s style and several relevant features of the situation (Fiedler, 1967). Within the model, leadership style and Leadership Models 2 the situation are defined with a high degree of precision. Leadership style is assessed by the least preferred coworker questionnaire (LPC). The scale asks that a person describe the coworker, past or present, with which he or she has had the most difficulty working.
Fiedler (1967) infers that people who attain high LPC scores are motivated to achieve positive social relations in their work groups. People with low LPC scores are judged to be less relationship oriented and more satisfied by task accomplishment. In other words, high LPC individuals are more relationship motivated, while low LPC types are more task motivated. It can be observed that the concept of LPC borrows heavily form the behavioral approach to leadership.
Actual work situations are varied and dynamic, to describe them, Fielder (1967) proposed a single broad definition of a critical situational dimension (favorableness) and several specific underlying attributes that define this larger dimension. According to his model, situations differ in terms of how favorable they are for a leader. Situational favorableness therefore is abroad notion of how easy or difficult a setting might seem to be for a manger.According to Fiedler (1967), there are three factors that may underlie situational favorableness, they are leader-member relations, task structure and position power.
Leader-member relations reflect the extent to which a leader is accepted and generates positive emotional reactions form his subordinates. A situation in which leader-member relations are relatively good is potentially much easier to manage that a situation in which such relations is strained. Task structure is the degree to which the job at hand can be clearly specified. Such structure is evident in rules, job descriptions and policies.
When tasks are relatively structured Leadership Models 3 there is little ambiguity about how they should be approached. In addition, goals are clear, performance measures are understood and multiple solutions are approaches to a problem are unlikely to exist. With low task structure, the opposite holds true. Position power is the extent to which a leader has recourse to formal sanctions.
That is, can a leader control the fate of subordinates by offering rewards or threatening punishment, other things being equal, situations in which leader has position power are considered easier to manage that situations in which power is lacking. Fiedler (1967) applied his contingency model to a large variety of work groups ranging form service station crews, basketball teams, laboratory groups, bomber crews and others. The results of which indicated that task oriented leaders were more effective than interpersonally oriented leaders in extremely favorable and unfavorable situations, while interpersonally oriented leaders were relatively more effective in situations that are moderately favorable (Fiedler, 1967).The most important implication for managers of the contingency model is the relationship between the leader and the situation.
On the other hand, the manager’s leadership style is considered to be one-dimensional and that it is a rigid characteristic. Thus, leader effectiveness is a function of fitting the manager to the job. Thus, one must be able to assess the situation first and then look for a leader that would fit the situation. Fiedler’s model has been criticized by a growing number of researches (See et.
al., 1972). There are issues raised about the LPC and the practical use of the model, for one, just how the LPC measures leadership style have not been clearly postulated (Shirakashi, 1988), in the same light, studies have shown that LPC scores Leadership Models 4 change when retested (Schriesheim & Kerr,1977) and that it is difficult to determine the contingency variables in actual practice, like in how to determine the leader-member relations, how structured the task is and how much position power the leader has. Recently, Fiedler with his associate Joe Garcia (1987) came up with an update of the old model and is called the cognate resource theory, which states that a leader obtains effective group performance by first making effective plans, decisions and strategies and then communicating them through directive behavior (Fiedler & Garcia, 1987).
This new concept introduces the cognitive abilities of the leader in his/her leadership style Path-Goal TheoryRobert House (1971) has proposed another perspective on how leaders can be effective. Their path-goal theory suggests that leaders can affect the satisfaction, motivation and performance of group members in several ways. A primary means is by making rewards contingent on the accomplishment of performance goals. In addition, a leader can aid group members in obtaining valued rewards by clarifying the paths to these performance goals and by removing obstacles to performance.
In order to accomplish these ends, a leader may be required to adopt different styles of leadership behavior as the situation dictates. House (1971) identified four distinct types of leader behavior. Directive leadership involves giving specific guidance to subordinates and asking them to follow standard rules and regulations. It is similar to the high-structure/low-consideration style in the Ohio state scheme.
Supportive leadership includes being Leadership Models 5 friendly to subordinates and sensitive to their needs. It is similar to the low-structure/high-consideration style. Participative leadership involves sharing information with subordinates and consulting with them before making decisions. It is much like the high-structure/high-consideration style.
Achievement-oriented leadership entails setting challenging goals and emphasizing excellence while simultaneously showing confidence that subordinates will perform well. It is not really equivalent to any of the Ohio Sate styles of management. House (1971) contends that all four styles can be and often are used by a single leader in varying situations.A number of propositions have been generated form path-goal theory regarding the impact of certain leader behaviors on subordinates performance and satisfaction (House, 1971).
In ambiguous situations, subordinates will be more satisfied with leaders who exhibit directive behavior. This satisfaction results from the subordinate’s appreciation of the supervisor’s help in increasing the probability of their obtaining a desired reward. In situations with greater task or goal clarity, such directive behavior will be of less value to subordinates. Moreover, in stressful environments, supportive leader behavior will serve to ameliorate subordinate dissatisfaction.
And those leaders who possess influence with their own superiors can enhance unit performance and satisfaction. With upward influence, a leader is better able to help subordinates be successful and receive appropriate rewards.Thus far, there has been little research on path-goal theory. Available evidence suggests that when subordinates are involved with ambiguous tasks, directive leadership can increase satisfaction and motivation, with fairly unambiguous tasks, however, directive leadership can Leadership Models 6 decrease satisfaction and motivation (Scrieshim & DeNisi, 1981).
Also, supportive leader behavior typically is associated with increased subordinate satisfaction. When subordinates are employed on tasks that are inherently distasteful or frustrating, supportive leader behavior can enhance subordinate satisfaction (House & Dessler, 1974). Although path-goal theory remains as yet largely untested, its greatest theoretical strength seems to lie in its integration of leader behavior and such ideas contained in expectancy theory as providing contingent, valued rewards for performance (Miner, 1980). Managers should act with caution in adopting the model, although it can be useful in the fact that it had identified key leadership styles and suggested when and how these behaviors should be used.
Hersey and Blanchard’s situational theoryPaul Hersey and Ken Blanchard have developed a leadership model called the situation-leadership theory that has been used by major companies like Bank of America, IBM and Xerox (Cairns et.al, 1998). The theory focuses on the followers; successful leadership is achieved by selecting the right leadership style, which is dependent upon the follower’s readiness as maintained by Hersey and Blanchard. The emphasis on the followers in the leadership effectiveness reflects the reality that it is the followers who accept or reject the leader.
Regardless of what the leader does, effectiveness depends on the actions of his/her followers. This is an important dimension that has been overlooked or underemphasized in most leadership theories. Readiness as defined by Hersey and Blanchard (1977) refer to the extent to which people have the ability and willingness to accomplish a specific task. Situational leadership usesLeadership Models 7 the same two leadership dimensions that Fiedler identified; task and relationship behaviors, however, Hersey and Blanchard (1977) extend their theorizing into determining how high or low it is and combining them into four specific leader behaviors; telling, selling, participating and delegating.
Telling (high task-low relationship) is where the leader defines roles and tells people what, how, when and where to do tasks; selling (high task-high relationship) is when the leader provides both directive and supportive behavior; participating (low task-high relationship), wherein the leader and follower share in decision making and delegating (low task-low relationship) which says that the leader provides little direction or support. The final component in this theory is defining the stages of follower readiness which are; R1 (people are both unable and unwilling to take responsibility), R2 (people are unable but willing to do the necessary tasks, R3 (people are able but unwilling) and R4 wherein people are both willing and able to do what is asked on them.To demonstrate the situation leadership model, take for example the case when the followers reach high levels of readiness, the leader responds by not only continuing to decrease control over activities but also by continuing to decrease relationship behavior as well. At stageR1, followers need clear and specific directions, at R2, both high-task and high-relationship behavior is needed.
The high-task behavior compensates for the followers lack of ability and the high-relationship behavior tries to get the followers buy into the leader’s desires. R3 represents motivational problems that are best solved by a supportive, nondirective, participative style, while at stage R4, the leader doesn’t have to do much because followers are both willing and Leadership Models 8 able to take responsibility. This theory has received little attention from researchers (Cairns et.al, 1998), thus conclusions based on this model should be done with reservations, although some reports provide partial support for the theory (Hersey & Blanchard, 1993), while others find no support for the assumption (Warren et.
al, 1990). Nonetheless, this model possess an intuitive appeal that makes it an attractive instructional device for practicing managers. It also emphasizes the need for flexible, adaptable leader behaviors, but until more evidence is available it is impossible to claim that it is superior to other models.The most important contribution of the Fiedler model may well be that it initiated a more rigorous search to identify contingency variables in leadership.
While this model is no longer at the cutting edge of leadership theories, several of the situational variables that Fiedler originally identified continue to surface in more recent contingency theories (Luthans, 2005). Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership is straightforward, intuitively appealing and important for itsexplicit recognition that the subordinate’s ability and motivation are critical to the leader’s success. Yet in spite of its wide acceptance by practitioners, the mixed empirical support renders the theory at least at this time more speculative than substantive (Graeff, 1983). Finally, the path-goal model contributed to the study of leadership by developing a framework based on empirical studies that gives us the means of predicting and explaining leadership effectiveness (Davis, 1982).
It has been said that in some ways the path-goal theory supports the findings of Leadership Models 9contingency variables in other leadership theories. For instance it is similar to the Fiedler model when it emphasized task structure, moreover, as it recognizes the importance of individual characteristics in leadership effectiveness is also supporting the claims of Hersey and Blanchard’s focus on the experience and ability of followers (Miner, 2002). Leadership Models 10 ReferencesBass, B. (1990) Stogdill and Bass’s handbook of leadership: Theory, research, and managerialapplication 3rd ed.
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