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How to Use the Contingency Theory of Leadership in 2024?

The contingency theory of leadership states that a person can be an effective leader in one situation and a totally useless and ineffective leader in the next. But how is that possible? Does it not negate all the things we know about leadership and how it operates? Understanding the contingency theory of leadership will help clear all your confusion. 

The contingency theory of leadership argues that the success and effectiveness of leadership are dependent upon the situation and external stimuli. It, therefore, rejects the dichotomy that separates individuals into ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ leaders, but more on that later. 

To know more about the contingency theory of leadership, its main ideas, and how it is applicable to the real world, continue reading ahead.

What Is the Main Focus of the Contingency Theory of Leadership?

The main focus of the contingency theory of leadership is to help leaders improve their performance. However, before leaders can do that, they need to know their leadership style. This may seem uncomfortable at first, but it is better in the long run. Before we delve into the particulars of the theory, here are some leadership styles that you need to know about. 

1. Delegating Leadership Style

Leaders who prioritize, delegating responsibilities and tasks to other members. Moreover, these individuals work well in a team and can manage projects and goals in a much better way. 

Also read: How Delegation Helps You Become a Successful Leader?

2. Participating Leadership Style

These are leaders who believe in democratic principles and prioritize team building. They share ideas and allow others to initiate discourse. This helps keep the team motivated. It also makes the team members feel like their voices are being heard. 

Also Read: How Participative Leadership Can Help Foster a Positive Environment

3. Inclusive Leadership Style

Inclusive leaders make sure to give an equal chance to everyone involved in the team. They look beyond the protected attributes of individuals such as their gender, ethnicity, their religion, or their race. 

Also Read: Are You an Inclusive or Exclusive Leader?

4. Autocratic Leadership Style

Often having a negative connotation, autocratic leaders are basically leaders who can make decisions independently. They can sometimes be unwelcoming to suggestions and ruthless in their behavior. But in the majority of instances, they are simply known for taking decisions independently. 

5. Transformative Leadership Style

The primary goal and motivation of transformative leaders is to change aspects of the environment that they function. They identify a problem with the status quo and then try to change it for the better. This could be just one part of society or market, or the entire society or market. 

Also Read: How to Inspire & Motivate with Transformational Leadership?

What Determines Behavior According to the Contingency Theory of Leadership?

Here are all the things in your external stimuli that will impact your behavior (according to the contingency theory of leadership)

  1. Work schedule at your organization
  2. The pace at which you work
  3. The hierarchies you have to follow
  4. The number of people you have on your team
  5. Your personal and professional goals and aspirations
  6. How do you receive and give feedback
  7. The level of maturity that is practiced by people in your office
  8. The performance of the company
  9. Behavior standards that are followed in the workplace
  10. Power levels within the organization

What Is the Importance of the Contingency Theory of Leadership?

The contingency theory of leadership is important because it helps people understand the shortcomings in their own leadership style and adapt to changing circumstances in a much better way. Here are other reasons why the theory is important. 

  • It helps individuals learn and unlearn leadership styles.
  • Helps people build skills that they need to succeed in different situations
  • Helps tackle stressful and critical situations by shifting to a more individual leadership style
  • Helps leaders understand their patterns and improve upon them. 
  • Allows leaders to see what situations trigger them and how they can better handle these emotions.

What are the Models of the Contingency theory of leadership?

Contingency theory of leadership

There are many models and perspectives on the contingency theory of leadership. Here are the most common and popular three perspectives on the theory. 

1. Fiedler’s Contingency Model

Developed in the early 1960s by Fred Fiedler, this model discusses the characteristics and personalities of leaders. Fielder was a professor and Austrian psychologist who proposed that the life experiences of a leader shape their leadership style. 

He also believed that leadership skills are fixed and can not change. However, he delves deeper into the kind of individuals a leader has to work with and how they can use the contingency theory to make themselves better leaders. 

2. Situational Leadership Model

This model is also known as Hersey-Blanchard Model. It states that individuals can and should adapt their style to meet the needs of the situation. 

The model also discusses the maturity level of employees and leaders and encourages individuals to factor in the workplace environment. 

3. Path-Goal Model

This model postulates that good leaders help their employees reach their respective goals. Leaders can become coaches and mentors if they simply try to engage more with their employees. 

They can do this by helping their employees determine their daily, weekly, or monthly targets and then helping them achieve these targets. 

4. Decision-making Model

This model is also known as the Vroom-Yetton Contingency model. It uses leader-member relations and decision-making to determine what effective leadership in the workplace is. 

The model discusses autocratic, consultative, and collaborative leadership styles. 

Also Read: Why do Leaders Make Bad Decisions? Untangling the Mystery.

How to Apply the Contingency Theory of Leadership at Work?

To unlock the full potential of your leadership in the workplace, make sure to understand the contingency theory of leadership and how to apply it. Here is how to apply it to good use. 

1. Create Self-Awareness: Know Where the Theory Applies to You

Denial works for no one. Make sure you assess your own behavior and see where the theory of leadership manifests in your own mindset and behavior. See how your reactions change based on the external situations or the people you work with. Moreover, see the internal and external circumstances that impact your decisions. Make a note of all this. 

2. Figure Out Which Leadership Style Comes Out When You Are in a Stressful Situation

Every person has a leadership style that they prefer. They will try to make a conscious effort to stick to that style. However, during stressful situations, this changes, and a person resorts back to their internal nature. So if someone is authoritative by nature, they will resort back to it when they are stressed. Make sure you keep this tendency in check. 

3. Identify What Your Ideal Outcome Is: What Skills Do You Need to Achieve It?

Your leadership style should remain somewhat consistent regardless of the situation you are in. Remember, the kind of leader you want to be can be different from the one you are currently being. Figure out what is your end goal and work on it. For example, if you want to be an inclusive leader, make sure you eliminate any prejudice and discrimination from your behavior. 

4. Take Training and Coaching to Help Yourself Grow

Working with coaches and mentors can help create an alignment between the kind of leader you want to be and the kind of leader you are. If you are unsure of this, attend a global leadership conference happening around soon. 

5. Stay Committed to Learning

If you do not want to be a situational leader, one who keeps changing their patterns because of external situations, you have to realize that you will make mistakes along the way. There may be instances when you are not aligned with who you want to be. In those moments, persevere and remain committed to learning. 

Become a Consistently-Effective Leader With the Best Diplomats

Become a Consistently-Effective Leader With the Best Diplomats

In this ever-changing world, individuals need to adapt to their given situations. They can not remain stagnant in their role and expect to be successful in this competitive environment. The pre-requisite of success then becomes a leader’s ability to recognize when they should change. 

With Best Diplomats, you get a chance to see your own personality and develop insights into your behavior. You learn to identify patterns and trigger points for your leadership style. Once you learn all this, you can apply it to the real world and become a more successful leader. 

To know more about the conferences held by Best Diplomats, contact us


What Is an Example of Contingency Behavior?

This is the changing of behavior according to external stimuli or situations. For instance, if you play your drums at night, you might have your neighbors complain about your behavior. This might ultimately lead you to stop playing. 

Why Do Most Leaders Like This Contingency Theory or Leadership?

Because the status quo demands that leaders adapt to the situations and change their behavior accordingly. Individuals who remain stagnant in their expression and behavior rarely find success. 

What Are Some Examples of Contingency Factors?

Contingency factors include
Size of the organization
Organizational technology
Environment and Culture
Goals and aspirations of the company/leader

Who Is the Father of Contingency Theory?

Professor Fred Fiedler is the father of contingency theory. He was an Australian psychologist and carried out in-depth research on people’s characteristics and personalities. He posits that personalities are stubborn, and it is not easy to change them. 

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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