1960s & 70s – Continued

Fiedler’s Contingency Model argues that effective leadership depends on a match between a leader’s behavioural style and the degree to which the work situation gives control and influence to the leader.

The first task is to identify the leader’s orientation or style.  Task-oriented leaders were critical of a poor worker because they value task success.

A relationship-oriented leader, on the other hand, values interpersonal relationships and is likely to rate the least preferred co-worker (LPC) more leniently.

The next stage is to define the characteristics of the work situation to find a proper match between leadership style and the situation.

Fiedler thought that leadership was situational and that there was a range of Leadership styles – friendly, co-operative, open, etc. One consequence of situation is that there might not be an ideal leader – it’s the situation which might determine this. This suggests that leaders should adopt different styles as they went about their work. However Fiedler thought that Leaders tend to adopt a fixed style. Generally they don’t vary style!


House’s Path Goal Theory. The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership was developed to describe the way that leaders encourage and support their followers in achieving the goals they have been set by easing the path that they should take. In particular, leaders:

  • clarify the path so subordinates know which way to go
  • clear the path – remove roadblocks that are stopping them going there
  • and increase the rewards along the route.

Leaders can take a strong or limited approach. In clarifying the path, they may be directive or give vague hints. In removing roadblocks, they may scour the path or help the follower move the bigger blocks. In increasing rewards, they may give occasional encouragement or pave the way with gold. Path-Goal theory assumes that leaders are flexible and that they can change their style, as situations require.

Probably the most popular expression of contingency theory in the 21st Century is the “Hersey – Blanchard Model Situational Leadership Model”. Although those interested might also look at the Tanenbaum Continuum.

Another popular and important development within this area has been the emergence of Transformational Theories. Transformational leadership refers to leaders who seek to develop their followers as well as getting the job done. Transformational leaders have a clear vision for the future, and succeed in effectively communicating this to their team of followers.

These types of leaders will act as role models and inspire their teams, stimulating followers to become more engaged and more innovative. Transformational leaders are not afraid to take personal risks, and can use unconventional (but always ethical) ways of achieving their vision.

Transformational leadership goes one step further than transactional leaders, in that these leaders trust their colleagues and allow them space to develop and will be flexible about the use of rules and regulations. Transformational leadership is seen to significantly increase organisational performance. Followers of a transformational leader are likely to be highly committed to the organisation, more easily identify with their leaders and their purpose and be more satisfied in their roles.

The leading work in this area is the Bass Transformational Leadership Theory.

In the final post of this series we are going to be examining what Leadership means today.

By Doug Strycharczyk, CEO- AQR International doug-clear

For more information on Mental Toughness and the MTQ48 please see https://aqrinternational.co.uk/mtq48-mental-toughness-questionnaire

For more information on leadership and our integrated leadership measure (ILM72)  please visit our website at https://aqrinternational.co.uk/the-integrated-leadership-measure-ilm72 Or for the opportunity to complete the ILM72 free of charge (one per organisation) contact us at headoffice@aqr.co.uk 

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