Contingency Theory of Leadership


Learn why leaders behave differently across different situations and consider the importance of understanding a leader's personal style. A summary of the contingency theory's strengths and limitations is presented, as well as real case examples from across different sectors and industries.

Technique Overview

Contingency Theory of Leadership

Contingency Theory of Leadership Definition

Frederick Fielder argued in the 1960s that "effective leadership style depended on situational contingencies, such as the nature of the task specifically and how certain or uncertain it was". Leadership depends on the following four contingent factors: 1) the leader's power and influence and his or her chosen goals, 2) followers' expectations, 3) the complexity of the organisation, and 4) the certainty or uncertainty of the task (Lorsch, 2010).

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Business Evidence

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Business Application

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Professional Tools

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Further Reading

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Contingency Theory of Leadership References (4 of up to 20) *

  • Ayman, R., Chemers, M. M., & Fiedler, F. (1995). The contingency model of leadership effectiveness and its levels of analysis. Leadership Quarterly, 6,147-168.
  • Bolden, R., Gosling, J., Marturano, A. and Dennison, P. (2003) A Review of Leadership Theory and Competency Frameworks. Centre for Leadership Studies.
  • Fiedler, F. E. (1967) A Theory of Leadership Effectiveness, New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Fiedler, F.E., & Mahar, L. (1979). A field experiment validating contingency model leadership training. Journal of Applied of Psychology, 64, 247-254.

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