Theory For Change

Discuss the leadership contingency theory role as a leader.

Page 21

Leadership Contingency Theory

Research shows that both leadership traits and leadership behavior are important for leadership effectiveness, supporting the practice of selecting leaders with an emphasis on traits and training leaders with an emphasis on behavior.14 Both the trait theory and the behavior theory of leadership were attempts to identify the one best leader and the one best style for all situations. By the late 1960s, it had become apparent that there is no such universal answer. Leadership contingency theory holds that the most appropriate leadership qualities and actions vary from situation to situation. Effectiveness depends on leader, follower, and situational factors. Forces in the leader include personal values, feelings of security, and confidence in subordinates. Forces in the follower include knowledge and experience, readiness to assume responsibility, and interest in the task or problem. Forces in the situation include organizational structure, the type of information needed to solve a problem, and the amount of time available to make a decision.15

Matching the Qualities of Leaders, the Characteristics of Followers, and the Nature of the Situation

In the past 60 years, more than 65 classification systems have been developed to define the dimensions of leadership, and more than 15,000 books and articles have been written about the elements that contribute to leadership effectiveness. The usual conclusion is that the answer depends on leader, follower, and situational variables. A leader in a bank and a leader on the farm will need different interests, values, and skills. Experienced followers and new followers will have different leadership needs. Situational factors include the job being performed, the culture of the workplace, and the urgency of the task.

No single element explains why leadership takes place. Leadership results when the ideas and deeds of the leader match the needs and expectations of the followers in a particular situation. The relationship between General George Patton, the U.S. Third Army, and the demands of World War II resulted in leadership; however, the same General Patton probably would not have much influence on the membership and goals of a PTO meeting today. Even if there were agreement about goals, disagreement over style probably would interfere with the leadership process.

A modern example of matching the qualities of the leader, the characteristics of followers, and the nature of the situation is Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa.16 A negative example, but one of historic significance, is that of Adolf Hitler, the German people, and the period 1919 to 1945:

Hitler generated his power through the skillful use of suggestion, collective hypnosis, and every kind of subconscious motivation that the crowd was predisposed to unleash. In this way, the people sought out Hitler just as much as Hitler sought them out. Rather than saying that Hitler manipulated the people as an artist molds clay, certain traits in Hitler gave him the opportunity to appeal to the psychological condition of the people.

Seen in this light, Hitler was not the great beginner, but merely the executor of the people’s wishes. He was able to feel the character and direction of the people and to make them more conscious of it, thereby generating power that he was able to exploit. This is not due to his personal strength alone. Isolated from his crowd, Hitler would be with reduced potency.

Hitler had many personal weaknesses, but as one who sensed the character and direction of the group, he became the embodiment of power. No doubt his strength came through his claiming for himself what actually was the condition and achievement of many.17

It is clear that destructive

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results can be traced to a toxic triangle of leader, follower, and situational factors. Destructive leaders with charisma, narcissism, and an ideology of hate can enlist susceptible followers with bad values, unmet needs, and ambition in a conducive situation of instability, perceived opportunity, and lack of checks and control. The outcome can be disastrous.18 Ultimately, the leader, the followers, and the situation must match for either good or bad leadership to take place. One without the other two, and two without the third, will abort the leadership process.19

Reference needs to be added for page 21-22:

Manning, G., & Curtis, K. (2019). The Art of Leadership (Sixth ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education. 


1. Define the concept and reference the page number that the concept can be found on in the textbook. “

2. “page 21-22”- Manning, G., & Curtis, K. (2019). The Art of Leadership (Sixth ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education. 

3. Address the situation that you will use the concept in.- I would use this situation when a department is functioning in congruence & promotions are available.

4. Express how the implementation of this concept is different from what you are doing now. -building the team to be able to function seemlessly 

5. Do you project that this change will make a positive difference within 3 months of its implementation? Yes

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