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Fiedler’s Contingency Model with Characteristics and Components

Leadership style refers to how a leader influences his followers and how he works to achieve his goals. There are different theoretical models of leadership in social and organizational psychology. In this article we will provide you the Fiedler’s Contingency Model with Characteristics and Components.

One is Fiedler’s Contingency Model, a model that argues that group productivity depends on leadership style and situational control. In this article, we’ll look at the components of the model and explain how it works.

Fiedler’s Contingency Model: What is it?

Fiedler’s Contingency Model, also called leadership effectiveness theory , is a model we find in social and organizational psychology. Its creator was Fred E. Fiedler, an important researcher of social and organizational psychology in the 20th century, born in Vienna (Austria).

This model speaks of leadership within organizations and proposes that group productivity depends on two variables: the leader’s leadership style and situational control.

Situational control refers to a confident and confident leader that the task can be accomplished. It is based on three dimensions, which we will see later: the leader‘s trusting relationships with members, that the task is structured, and the leader’s supervision and reinforcement/punishment capacity (i.e. power).


In general terms, what does Fiedler’s model propose and what does it consist of?

Fiedler’s Contingency Model aims to describe how high group productivity is achieved (i.e., results), through leadership (the way in which the leader “leads”), the characteristics of the leader, and the situation in which he or she finds himself. find. question.

In his model, Fiedler proposes two types of leadership, as we will see later: one more people-oriented (socio-emotional) and the other more productivity-oriented (task) . The model also maintains that the leader‘s ability to influence his followers will depend, among others, on how favorable the situation is.


The purpose of this model was to predict the effectiveness of different types of leadership . For this, it was first necessary to correctly identify the leader‘s leadership style and the situation within the organization. If these two variables were matched correctly, according to Fiedler, the results were guaranteed.

Fiedler believed that a person’s leadership style was something quite fixed, difficult to change but not impossible. This thought led him to consider the above, and perhaps it would be a good idea to combine the different styles of leadership with the most favorable situations to obtain results (leader effectiveness), and this is what Fiedler’s Contingency Model


Fiedler’s Contingency Model proposes two components that interact with each other, ultimately resulting in group productivity . This productivity has to do with the results obtained by the group within the organization.

Thus, the components mentioned in the Fiedler Contingency Model are as follows.

1. Leader’s leadership style

Leadership style refers to the leader’s way of achieving his or her purposes and the group’s purposes. It relates to the way they treat workers (or followers) and how they get (or don’t get) what is proposed .

Fiedler, in his contingency model, speaks of two types of leaders or leadership: the leader motivated in relation to the task (task leader) and the leader motivated in relation to interpersonal relationships (socio-emotional leader).

The task leader will focus, as the name implies, on the group’s tasks, that is, on the performance and results achieved by the group. This leader aims to increase the productivity of the group by working directly through the group.

On the other hand, the socio-emotional leader will focus on improving relationships between workers in order to increase group performance. Later we will see the relationship between leader type and situational control (the second component of Fiedler’s Contingency Model).

2. Situational control

As we anticipated, the second component of Fiedler’s Contingency Model is situational control, which has to do with the degree of control of the situation . This variable has two poles within a continuum: the “low” pole and the “high” pole. In the middle of the continuum, the label “moderate” appears.

The greater the situational control, the greater the certainty on the part of the leader that the task in question is performed correctly.

Situational control depends, in turn, on three other variables or dimensions (necessary to analyze situational control):

2.1 Trusted relationships with members

This variable refers to how the leader relates to the group members. It is related to loyalty, mutual support and, finally, the quality of relationships between the leader and his followers. If these relationships are good, it will have a positive impact on the leader‘s effectiveness and power.

2.2 Degree of task structuring

For situational control to be high, the task must be well structured. Specifically, this variable refers to whether the tasks are well defined; It also has to do with work objectives and procedures.

2.3 Supervision and reinforcement/punishment capability

Finally, there must be supervision by the leader in relation to the group members and, in addition, he must have a good ability to offer reinforcements (rewards) and punishments, depending on the results (group productivity).

This third dimension also refers to the power that the leader has in his position. This power is legitimate. The following relationship was also found: the power of high positions facilitates the influence of the leader, but the power of low positions makes it difficult.

Relationship between components

But how does this influence whether the leader is task or socio-emotional and whether situational control is low, moderate, or high on leader effectiveness? Let’s explain these interactions.

Related:   Classification of companies, with explanations and examples

Fiedler’s Contingency Model proposes a type of graph, which explains the relationship possibilities between the two previous components. There are 6 possibilities that arise from the two types of leadership.

1. Socio-emotional leader

When the leader is socioemotional (focused on interpersonal relationships), three situations can occur:

  • That situational control is low: then effectiveness will be minimal.
  • Let the situational control be moderate: then the effectiveness will be maximum.
  • That situational control is high: effectiveness will be minimal.

2. Task leader

On the other hand, when the leader is homework (focused on production), three other situations can also occur:

  • That situational control is low: then effectiveness will be maximum.
  • Let the situational control be moderate: the effectiveness will be minimal.
  • That situational control is high: then effectiveness will be maximum.

final reflection

Fiedler’s Contingency Model really doesn’t have enough empirical support to support it in investigations . However, it is considered an important model in organizational psychology, which is still transmitted and taught.

This is because it provides a complete and well-founded series of theories regarding leadership, leader effectiveness, and group productivity. Furthermore, it incorporates elements of the environment (situation), and not just the characteristics of the leader (leadership style, personality…), to explain its effectiveness and its repercussions on results.

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