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The exertion of influence or authority over a group in a given direction in order to achieve certain objectives constitutes leadership. There are different leadership theories that explain how leaders apply their skills in management. Numerous research papers have defined, analyzed, and explored several theories of leadership and their applications in daily life.
These research documents have dealt on the qualities that make one a successful leader among his/her employees or followers. Moreover, the leadership studies have paid due attention on perception of leaders and the feeling he/she commands from the group. Notably, people have been identifying leaders using their emotions and not on rational and objective basis.
The society has been considering those who succeed as best leaders irrespective of the conditions they have undergone in the leadership process (Mattiuzzi par. 6). However, the studies have failed to connect the nature of the environment, the characters of followers, and the leader-preferred style of ruling the people.
These are the primary foundation to success for any leader. This report will explore why some leadership styles succeed in other regions but not in others even if the same person implements the style in different environments.
Leaders have their own ways of ruling; they can successfully realize their goals when in one place but fails to do so in another environment. This can occur even if one applies any leadership style. Leadership does not necessarily imply exercising authority on followers; it has to take into concern the behaviors of the followers, the mood of the leader and the situation at hand.
Environmental factors can affect the outcomes of leadership; for instance, societal culture and practices can be a source of impediment to the success of organizational leadership.
According to the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness Research Program (GLOBE), cultural differences between a leader and the followers can hinder or aid effectiveness and success of leadership (“How Cultural Factors Affect Leadership” par. 2). Markedly, whatever people can view as a source of success for leadership on one culture can be an obstacle to success on another culture.
Globally, businesses have different cultures even if they operate in the same industry; the employees and other stakeholders determine the organizational culture. To understand the influence of culture on leadership, we can imagine of an African executive who trains at a British School of Management and is required to run a Brazilian manufacturing facility in Japan.
The leader will have to comprehend the culture within which he/she exercise his/her authority and the employees’ perceptions on the leadership style. Clearly, one leadership style cannot fit in all situations. As a result, the African executive ought to develop vast leadership attributes that will accommodate the unique cultures (“How Cultural Factors Affect Leadership” par.4).
Leaders have to develop a transformational system of leadership in order to realize success in different situations. This broad charismatic character educes the interests of employees thus motivating them to go beyond the set targets of the organization at the expense of their self-interests.
Moreover, various cultures perceive communication skills differently; this alters what constitute a good communicator among different cultures. In America, managers prefer face-to-face communication when passing information to their subordinates. On the other hand, in Japan, managers mostly use memos to do the same.
Therefore, American culture reflects the individualistic behavior while Japanese cultures favor the collective custom of “face-saving” (“How Cultural Factors Affect Leadership” par. 8). Interestingly, a nonverbal cue of interruption, which most cultures consider as a rude way of communication is a means of conveying one’s interests in the Latin cultures.
Cultural dynamics are essential factors in the success of any leadership style. Since the world has different cultures, leaders should be ready to change from one situation to another; this approach could help them understand the nuances that exist in different cultures. The global economy requires leaders who are highly sensitive to different cultures.
The contingency theory believes there is no single approach that leaders can apply in their leadership style since there are variations of circumstances. The situation is a key factor to successful leadership; therefore, leaders must change their behaviors and styles of leadership to fit to the environment.
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Fielder came up with this theory in 1964 after he noticed that successful leadership was eminent when leaders alter their behaviors to be in line with the environmental factors (Smith par. 2). Therefore, if one matches the organizational settings with the leadership styles, proper function becomes an automatic assurance. The key constrain to different leadership style is personality which is a fixed parameter in all individuals.
In his research, Fielder used the Least Preferred Coworker Scale (LPC) to rate leadership styles that leaders prefer (Smith par. 3). In this scale, leaders rate people they have worked with poorly. Those who score high in the scale prefer interpersonal relationship to other factors while leaders who score low favor task achievement at the expense of interpersonal relationships.
The task-oriented leaders have a poor relationship with their followers hence may not realize success in their management. Leaders must endeavor to match their personal traits with the task requirements and, at the same time, incorporate personal interactions with employees in order to be successful. The organizational environment also plays a role in the success of any leadership style.
It entails the parameters that exist within a firm that can aid the exertion of influence on a team. The subdivisions of the situational variables include position of power, nature of relationship between a leader and the members and task structure. Task structure is the level of job exactness among the employees.
Position power, on its self, refers to the level of authority that a leader commands within an organization due to his/her position. Lastly, leader-member relationship touches on the level of cooperation and recognition that employees or followers have towards their leader. Contingency theory holds that for leaders to realize the success, they should institute strong links between them and other stakeholders of their firms.
Further, leaders should specify jobs within the organization so that each employee performs different tasks. Leaders ought to carry out job specificity during job design process. Leaders should use their powers to fire and reward employees within their firms (Smith par. 8). These three scenarios inculcate two essential groups of leaders, which are relationship and task oriented leaders.
Therefore, depending on the situation at hand, leaders should evoke an appropriate leadership style. For example, in case of fire within their organizations, leaders will find it effective to apply the task-oriented approach since this will create fast response hence not delaying outcomes.
In blue-collar jobs, task oriented relationship becomes appropriate since this group of employees requires job specification and direction. At the same time, the leader must maintain a strong relationship with the workers; for instance, by rewarding employees who achieve high outputs. Predictable environments such as research institutions favor relationship-oriented style of leadership.
In these scenarios, employees expect little or no interference from their leaders on the requirements of their jobs (Smith par. 13). For that reason, leaders will have to develop a strong working relationship with their employees.
These different scenarios at hand reveal that one cannot group leaders as successful or unsuccessful without considering the numerous parameters that affect leadership outcomes. A leader cannot be effective in all situations, but by altering their leadership style to match the appropriate situation, he/she can realize success.
Constructs of the Theory
The main constructs of this theory are classified into dependent and independent factors. The dependent factors are efficiency and organizational performance (“Contingency Theory”). Efficiency is the rate at which the leadership style respond to various impediments that arise within the organization. Organizational performance measures the output that firms records within a given period under a leadership style.
When leaders match their traits with the situations in the environment, they are likely to record growth in their capacities. Independent constructs include technology, strategy, firm’s size, and culture (“Contingency Theory”). Technology is the innovations that leaders institute in their organizations so that they can match the competitive market.
For example, the use of online shopping where customers can view and order new products has become common among many companies. Strategy involves the plans that organizations put to guide their future operations. It also involves environmental screening and forecasting; these programs enable firms to predict into the future thus gaining competitive advantage over their competitors.
Contingency theory represents a state of relationship that exist between a leader and his/her followers. A strong relationship between a leader and the subordinates will result to high output. Moreover, it connects the task and the leadership styles that leaders can adopt. Leaders who tend to be task-oriented in their leadership will find their style remarkably appropriate under circumstances that require urgency like fire outbreaks.
The theory assumes that the ability of any leader to guide successfully is dependent on situational parameters such as the employees’ behaviors and capabilities and the leader’s leadership preference style (“Contingency Theory” par. 1). Unsuccessful leaders are those who do not consider the above factors during their reign.
Again, success is not a-one directional initiative; it requires multi-purpose approaches that a leader must be willing to follow. The above constructs represents reality in their own measure. For instance, efficient leaders are at high levels of recording positive output in comparison to inefficient leaders.
Additionally, an organization that records low performance has inefficient leaders who are not flexible to changes in the culture and structure of the system. The relationships in the contingency theory are logical as it starts with the leader to employees and finally with other stakeholders in the organization.
Contingency theory relates to situational theory of leadership in the aspect of no one way of successful leadership. However, the latter emphasizes on behaviors that leaders ought to accept while contingency theory includes other parameter like capability of a leader. This theory is parsimonious as it identifies other factors that can affect leadership outputs. It does not rely on one parameter like situational theory.
I will test this theory on organizations that are located in different counties with diverse cultures. On the quantitative aspect, I will use a small organization and a large company to test the outcomes of my theory.
This theory can help current global executives to guide employees from diverse cultures towards realizing the organizational goals (Karthikaeya). In addition, managers will be free to exercise their leadership skills worldwide with ease.
Contingency Theory. Changing minds and persuasion. Changing Minds, n.d. Web.
Contingency Theory. IS Theory. Brigham Young University, 15 Nov. 2011. Web.
How Cultural Factors Affect Leadership. [email protected]. Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, 23 July 1999. Web.
Karthikaeya, Paul. “Leadership styles and theories.” slideshare.net. SlideShare Inc, 15 Dec. 2010. Web.
Mattiuzzi, Paul. “Leadership Research: are we asking the right questions?.” Everyday Psychology. N.p., 18 July 2008. Web.
Smith, Carolyn. “Contingency Theory of Leadership.” ArticlesBase. ArticlesBase.com, 25 Feb. 2010. Web.