Contingency and Situational Theories of Leadership

Critical analysis of the contingency and situational theories

Situational and contingency models are used by leaders to develop strategic plans for leadership. The two models have several similarities and differences. The main similarity between these theories is that they focus on the nature of a situation to determine the responses required from leaders (Northouse 2013). The main difference between the two theories is that each model has different expectations on the part of the leaders. The contingency theory claims that leaders cannot develop a specific way of managing organisational processes; hence, they should focus on the internal and external situations in the organisation to develop a leadership style (Windham 2015). This means that the style of leadership should be dependent on the external and internal factors of the organisation (Tebeian 2012).

The situational leadership theory, on the other hand, dictates that a leader must develop a leadership style that best fits his followers, rather than influencing followers to fit in his leadership style. It would be appropriate to use the contingency model in a business setting with many internal and external constraints. The situational model is appropriate for an organisation that constantly changes its human asset base.

Effects of situational-specific factors on leadership

Situation-specific factors in an organisation force the leader to respond to the competence levels of the human assets by developing leadership styles that can accommodate their skills and knowledge (Anthony 2015). For instance, if a leader has a highly skilled team, he is likely to use a directive style of leadership. Conversely, if the team is not adequately skilled, the leader may choose to use a participative style of leadership to help the members in delivering the required results (Keskes 2014).

The influence of contingency factors on leadership styles

Contingency factors are categorised into internal and external elements that influence the style of leadership in an organisation. These factors influence the focus of the entire company, and the leader is forced to make different decisions based on the type of pressure facing the company. Contingency factors force the leadership function to develop regular changes to keep the company on track in the quest of the mutual organisational goals (Contingency and situational approaches 2013). These factors keep the leaders always prepared to make changes in their leadership styles because the contingency model reveals that the most important task of a leader is to adjust his or her leadership style to changing situations.

Strength and weaknesses of the theories

The contingency theory is a viable model for leadership because it influences leaders to make the appropriate organisational decisions with reference to different situations. The contingency theory is also feasible for organisations because it does not require the leaders and their followers to focus on perfection; rather, it dictates that efficiency in attaining organisational goals is dependent on the ability of the leader and his or her followers to adjust to internal and external pressures. This strategy motivates employees (Webb, 2015). One of the limitations of the contingency theory is that it assumes that the leadership styles assumed by the organisation are always compatible with the skills of the employees. The model also fails to explain why certain leadership styles are more effective than others. The situational model is effective in aligning the leadership style and the skills possessed by a leader (The Hersey-Blanchard situational leadership theory 2015).

Its main disadvantage is that it fails to challenge the employees to learn new skills in the organisation. The model limits the innovative quality of leadership because leaders have to adjust their ideas to the competencies available among the followers.

List of References

Anthony, L 2015, Define Situational Leadership. Web.

Contingency and situational approaches. 2013. Web.

Keskes, I 2014, ‘Relationship between leadership styles and dimensions of employee organizational commitment: A critical review and discussion of future directions’, Intangible Capital, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 26-51. Web.

Northouse, PG 2013, Leadership; theory and practice, 6th edn, Sage, Thousand Oaks. Web.

Tebeian, AE 2012, ‘The impact of motivation through leadership on group performance’, Review of International Comparative Management, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 313-326. Web.

The Hersey-Blanchard situational leadership theory. 2015. Web.

Webb, RL 2015, Leadership styles versus motivation. Web.

Windham, C 2015, What are the differences between contingency models & path theories. Web.