makes a military leader, which would be different from behaviors creating success in small or large business enterprises. It turns out that specifying the conditions under which these behaviors are more effective may be a better approach. Key Takeaway When researchers failed to identify a set of traits that would distinguish effective from ineffective leaders, research attention turned to the study of leader behaviors. Leaders may demonstrate task-oriented and people- oriented behaviors. Both seem to be related to important outcomes, with task-oriented behaviors more strongly relating to leader effectiveness and people-oriented behaviors leading to employee satisfaction. Leaders can also make decisions using authoritarian, democratic, or laissez-faire styles. While laissez-faire has certain downsides, there is no best style and the effectiveness of each style seems to vary across situations. Because of the inconsistency of results, researchers realized the importance of the context in which leadership occurs, which paved the way to contingency theories of leadership. Exercises 1. Give an example of a leader you admire whose behavior is primarily task-oriented, and one whose behavior is primarily people-oriented. 2. What are the limitations of authoritarian decision making? Under which conditions do you think authoritarian style would be more effective? 3. What are the limitations of democratic decision making? Under which conditions do you think democratic style would be more effective? 4. What are the limitations of laissez-faire decision making? Under which conditions do you think laissez-faire style would be more effective? 5. Examine your own leadership style. Which behaviors are you more likely to demonstrate? Which decision-making style are you more likely to use?
What Is the Role of the Context? Contingency Approaches to Leadership Learning Objectives 1. Learn about the major situational conditions that determine the effectiveness of different leadership styles. 2. Identify the conditions under which highly task-oriented and highly people-oriented leaders can be successful based on Fiedler’s contingency theory. 3. Discuss the main premises of the Path-Goal theory of leadership. 4. Describe a method by which leaders can decide how democratic or authoritarian their decision making should be. What is the best leadership style? By now, you must have realized that this may not the right question to ask. Instead, a better question might be: under which conditions are different leadership styles more effective? After the disappointing results of trait and behavioral approaches, several scholars developed leadership theories that specifically incorporated the role of the environment. Researchers started following a contingency approach to leadership—rather than trying to identify traits or behaviors that would be effective under all conditions, the attention moved toward specifying the situations under which different styles would be effective.
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- Spring '17
- Frederick Fiedler