Contingency Leadership Theories and Effective Leadership
Contingency leadership theories attempt to define leadership style, the situation, and answer the if-then contingencies. Situational leadership theory is a contingency theory that focuses on followers’ readiness: the extent to which people have the ability and willingness to accomplish a specific task. Path-goal theory states that it is the leader’s job to assist followers in attaining their goals and to provide direction or support needed to ensure that their goals are compatible with the organization or group goals. Each theory was developed as a separate model for leaders to determine which leadership style to use in different contexts or situations. However, both models can be related to each other and may be even more effective when used together. Effective leaders will recognize that they must adjust their styles and behaviors according to their followers and the environment. By accurately assessing their team’s stage while minimizing redundancies in the environmental structure leaders can improve their team’s performance and satisfaction.
Styles and Behavior
In situational leadership theory and path-goal theory, both theories assume that leaders are flexible and can display any or all styles depending on the situation or environment. Situational leadership theory emphasizes the importance of adjusting leadership style based on the needs of the followers. Path-goal theory leaders help followers along their path and are more effective if they adapt their behaviors to the current environment. Each leadership theory describes four different styles or behaviors to use for effective leadership. The style of telling, selling, participating, and delegating are used in STL while directive, supportive, participative, and achievement-oriented are the leadership behaviors used in path-goal theory.
The two theories are different in their descriptions of the types of styles/behaviors but still apply to each other. A directive leader in path-goal theory lets subordinates know what is expected of them, schedules work to be done, and gives specific guidance on how to accomplish tasks. That behavior applies to both telling and selling styles in STL. The leader in the telling style defines roles and tells people what, how, when, and where to do various tasks. The leader in the selling style provides both directive and supportive behavior. In path-goal theory, a participative leader consults with group members and uses their suggestions before making a decision. That behavior is very similar to the participating style in STL where the leader and followers share in decision-making and the main role of the leader is facilitating and communicating. The achievement-oriented leader in path-goal theory can apply to all styles of STL. The supportive leader in path-goal theory shows concern for the needs of followers and is friendly, which can also apply to all styles of STL but with less emphasis once a...