The main difference between contingency and situational leadership is that contingency leadership theory considers that a leader’s leadership style should match the right situation, whereas situational leadership theory considers that a leader should adapt his style to the situation at hand.
Contingency and situational leadership styles are equal up to a certain extent as it stresses the importance of situations. Although these theories share a lot of commonalities, there is a distinct difference between contingency and situational leadership.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Contingency Leadership
3. What is Situational Leadership
4. Similarities Between Contingency and Situational Leadership
5. Side by Side Comparison – Contingency vs Situational Leadership in Tabular Form
What is Contingency Leadership?
Contingency leadership is a theory that states a leader’s effectiveness is contingent upon how his or her leadership style matches the situation. Thus, this theory focuses on the effectiveness of the leader, which is dependent on his leadership style and situations. Moreover, this leadership theory also depends on the relationship between the leader and the co-worker. The relationship between these two parties determines whether the leader is a relationship-oriented or a task-oriented person.
Originally, Fiedler developed the Contingency Leadership theory after many research studies on different personalities, mainly military. Furthermore, this theory assumes that leadership styles are behaviours, which can not be influenced or modified.
Contingency theory identifies the below three factors as situations:
Leader-Member Relation: If the worker has trust and confidence in the supervisor and is motivated by the supervisor, they have a positive relationship.
Task Structure: This is a measure of the clarity of tasks or projects.
Least Prefered Coworker Scale (LPC)
Fiedler developed the LPC scale to determine the style of a leader. The LPC is a questionnaire to the leader, which aims to determine the type of co-worker a leader would like to deal with. A high score in LPC represents a “people-oriented” leadership, while a low score represents “task-oriented” leadership style.
Least Prefered Coworker Scale is based on the assumption that task-oriented leaders view their lease-preferred coworker more negatively than relationship-oriented leaders. Basically, they view these workers as underachievers and people who pose an obstacle to their own performance.
The contingency theory implies that leaders will not be effective in all situations but only the situations that suit them best.
What is Situational Leadership?
Situational theory emphasizes that there is no ideal leadership style. It all depends on the situation you face and the type of leadership strategy you choose for the situation. Based on this theory, the most effective leaders change their leadership style to match the situation.
Situational leadership theory is also known as the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory, after its developers, Dr. Paul Hersey, and Kenneth Blanchard.
Moreover, this model of leadership focuses on adaptability. In this model, leaders are flexible according to the needs of their subordinates and the demands of the situation. Also, this theory recognizes that there are various ways to deal with a problem and that leaders should be able to assess a situation and the maturity levels of subordinates in order to determine what methods will be the most effective at any given situation. Thus, situational leadership theory gives broader consideration to the complexity of dynamic social situations.
What are the Similarities between Contingency and Situational Leadership?
- Contingency theory and situational leadership state that there is no perfect leader, but all types of leaders are right for a certain situation.
- Therefore, both theories state that it’s not the leader’s personality that needs to be changed, but the situation.
- Both theories identify that most leaders are either task-oriented or relationship-oriented.
What is the Difference Between Contingency and Situational Leadership?
Contingency leadership is a theory that states a leader’s effectiveness is contingent upon how his or her leadership style matches the situation. Situational leadership, on the other hand, is a theory that states a leader should adapt his or her leadership style to match the situation. So, this is the key difference between contingency and situational leadership. In addition, Fieldler was the developer of contingency theory, whereas Hersey and Blanchard were the developers of situational leadership theory.
The below infographic provides more comparisons related to the difference between contingency and situational leadership.
Summary – Contingency vs Situational
The key difference between contingency and situational leadership is that contingency leadership theory emphasizes that a leader should match the right situation, whereas situational leadership theory believes that a leader should be adaptable to the situation he faces.