Managerial Leadership Development: Contingency Theory

Managerial leadership development simply refers to the process by which business managers and supervisors get to advance their knowledge and skills so as to be able to execute leadership skills in the most desirable way. Nowadays, there are many programs that have been designed with the aim of helping business leaders acquire great understanding in general management. Through such programs, participants who are able to benefit at both personal and company levels will find themselves adapting to the needs and challenges of organizational management.

Leadership styles are categorized into general groups of leadership theories. For the purpose of this subject, this paper critically analyses the contingency theory as one of the core leadership theories commonly applied in today’s business world. The analysis is based on five key questions on managerial leadership management that are discussed throughout the paper. Contingency theory is arguably the most relevant category of leadership styles to organizational leadership.

As it will be observed in this research paper, there are various reasons as to why I selected this particular theory. Managerial leadership development is a crucial approach in modern business environment where competition is the norm of the day. As a matter of fact, the current business world calls for great professionalism and expertise in various areas of accountability, and in that case, development of managerial leadership through the necessary approaches comes with immense benefits to an organization and its managers. For example, this helps in facilitating the development of key competencies that are necessary for the success of managers and supervisors in an organization. Another outstanding benefit of managerial leadership development is that it helps organizational leaders gain useful leadership skills which are essential for business success.

Contingency theory is simply the outcome of influences resulting from internal and external influences. One of the major claims behind this class of behavioral theories is that, there is no better way to organize or steer an organization in terms of managerial or leadership skills. Just as the name suggests, a leader’s capability to lead other individuals within an organization remains contingent upon different situational aspects which may tend to arise on the way (DuBrin, 2012). In that regard, the leadership styles under this particular category mainly focus on certain variables that are related to the environment and which might determine the particular style that needs to be applied.

One outstanding principle of contingency theory is that, there can never be a perfect leadership style in any situation, but successful leadership management would in most cases tend to be influenced by various variables arising from the organization and its functioning structures. One major benefit of this particular approach is that it helps to model an organization in a manner that enables it to survive the environmental uncertainties that are likely to arise. This brings us to the conclusion that the main agenda behind this particular theory is to design a plan which can be used to deal with environmental or situational uncertainties in an effective and efficient way. According to observations made from previous researches and studies, the other leadership theories have completely ignored the contingency factors, thus failing to meet the standards of organizational leadership management.

Examples of common contingencies for businesses would include things such as customers, technological aspects, government, business competitors, distributors and suppliers, and unions, among other aspects. These aspects can sometimes have a significant impact on organizations forcing leaders to go for the most appropriate interventions that will enable them deal with arising situations in the most effective way. As it would be observed, the contingency theory is associated with many outstanding benefits compared with the other theories, and this is just another reason why I would select it. The approach has been tested by various researchers who have identified it as a reliable way of showing people how leadership can be achieved within an organization.

This approach is also very predictive, and it offers useful insight on the kind of leadership that needs to be applied to address a particular situation in an organization. The contingency approach also offers a broadened understanding of leadership in all aspects of management, since it forces people to consider the impacts of arising aspects on leaders (Bolman and Deal, 2011). The theory is also important in that, it helps in building close relationships between leaders and their followers in an organization. Another important benefit associated with this theory is that, leaders would normally find it easy to understand the specific roles they are responsible for.

Apart from the facts highlighted above, there are various other reasons as to why I would prefer contingency theories over the other theories. For example, apart from just offering crucial guidelines on the most relevant approach to take in particular situations, the approach also provides some important lessons when it comes to the understanding of effectiveness of leadership management in organizations. This theory also plays a key role in helping to put organizational leaders at a level where they are able to predict the best styles of leadership to apply in a particular situation.

The contingency approach tries to address a number of questions which help leaders to take the most appropriate actions or plans in business. For example, when there is a need to come up with quick decisions, which is the most relevant approach to use? Is there a better way to practice leadership when you as a leader is in need of full support from your subjects? Should those in leadership positions focus more on tasks or the people they lead? Over the years, other leadership models have come up to act as a framework for this particular theory, thus strengthening its value as the most relevant approach to effective organizational leadership (Fawcett, Magnan and McCarter, 2008).

Some of these models or theories are Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory, Fiedler’s Contingency Model, Leadership Process Model, and House’s Path-Goal Theory. Hersey-Blanchard Situational theory offers a deeper insight on the contingency approach. The theory further explains the reasons as to why managers and supervisors need to ensure that they try to adapt their management styles to those who follow them in the organization. Leadership Process Model enables people, particularly organizational leaders, to understand the way arising situations would tend to impact other factors that are necessary for leadership management, and the way this affects their leadership styles.

Based on the many benefits associated with contingency theories, I am confident that it will greatly influence my ability to motivate my followers through a number of ways. For example, through the approach, I will be able to understand internal and external constraints as they unfold within the organization, thus dealing with them in the most appropriate manner. Obviously, the very idea of dealing with a situation as it occurs influences organizational activity and this influences good leadership. As earlier on observed, one of the core strengths of this approach lies in its predictive nature which helps leaders to focus on imminent situations and prepare for them using the most appropriate leadership skills (Bass and Bass, 2009).

The application of contingency theories in an organization would in most cases tend to address various questions set by leaders based on the demands that have been imposed by a particular situation. As it would be observed, these questions do play a significant role in helping managers and supervisors identify the most relevant leadership styles that can apply well in a particular situation. This kind of approach engages both managers and their subjects, thus helping to improve the relationships between the two. This, however, is bound to increase the leader’s capability to motivate his / her followers in the long-term. This, actually, would be a better way to influence my followers in a positive manner. More importantly, I would effectively apply the frameworks of contingency theory to ensure that a positive organizational performance is realized in my area of accountability. Some of these frameworks will include the contingency theory of decision making, the contingency theory of leadership, and the contingency rules theory, among other theories aligned to this approach.

Despite the many strengths associated with the contingency theory, it also has a number of limitations. One common area of weakness with the theory is that, it fails to give a strong explanation as to why managers who possess certain styles of leadership would be more effective in some scenarios than in others. However, no matter the reason behind this claim, this particular weakness can still be developed into a strength through various ways. For instance, leaders can be assured of benefitting from the theory’s predictive nature which can always give them an opportunity to identify upcoming situations and address them with the appropriate leadership styles (Daft, 2011).

Leaders can also make good use of the various factors which tend to influence the organizational performance, such as the staff, organizational structure, procedures, and office politics. According to this particular theory, there is no perfect manner by which leadership can be executed within an organization, and therefore, a manager’s capability to lead well will depend on different situational aspects. A leader’s preferred leadership style as determined by the various situational factors can be coupled with the behaviors and capabilities of his / her followers to give the most desirable outcomes in organizational leadership.

Based on these claims, there is no doubt that Contingency theory is the most relevant category of leadership styles to organizational leadership. As it is clearly shown in this paper, Fiedler’s contingency theory provides many benefits to modern businesses. The fact that this particular theory is based on situational factors rather than a leader’s preferred leadership style makes it a valid and reliable approach in today’s ever-changing business environment.

It is a confirmed fact that, in order for any leader to be successful in their capacity, they should try to fit into the organizational culture offered by their organizations, and contingency theory provides for such an opportunity. In this regard, there is no doubt that contingency approach is indeed the most suitable tool for transformational leadership development. This kind of approach is a crucial investment for organizational success, and it is just what modern business leaders need to embrace so as to make a positive impact in their areas of accountability.


Bass, B., & Bass, R. (2009). The Bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research, and managerial applications. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Bolman, L., & Deal, T. (2011). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice and leadership. New York: Jossey-Bass.

Daft, R.L. (2011). The leadership experience. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

DuBrin, A. (2012). Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Fawcett, S., Magnan, G., & McCarter, M. (2008). Benefits, barriers, and bridges to effective supply chain management. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 13(1), 35-48.