Maximizers, like Activators, want to get things done, but they also want to preserve the good that exists within an organization. Any one of these leadership styles left on their own without compensating forces will unravel.
Sure, we all know to some extent that leadership styles and theories share common traits across the spectrum of study, but I found that the more I studied the different methods, the more they were the same. Theodore Roosevelt once said that “when you take power, you also assume responsibility (Roosevelt). The answer came to me as I sat in my hotel room, staring at my computer, with my tie from work still dangling from the open collar of my shirt.
I reference this not as a comment on leaders themselves, but on the different theories and schools of thought that have dared to broach the subject in the history of the study of leadership.
By analyzing the traits of leaders, the skills they employ, the actions they take, and the changes in style based on their situations in addressing contingencies and creating a path to a goal, and by using every approach available, a broader brush can be drawn across the proverbial canvas of leadership, and a clearer picture can be achieved.
Fiedler’s contingency model is the most well known contingency model and it resembles the trait approach that states leaders cannot change their leadership approach (Northouse, 2013).
An additional aspect of Fiedler’s contingency model is that even though there are leaders who are better than other leaders in certain situations, that doesn’t mean the other leaders wouldn’t be a better leader than them if they are in an alternative environment (Northouse, 2013). The path-goal theory is also considered as a contingency theory since this theory also states that a leader’s impact on their followers has much to do with how he or she interacts with their followers (Northouse, 2013). In summary, the path-goal theory and Fiedler’s Contingency theory are both considered as contingency theories since they both state the amount that a leader benefits or harms their organization is reliant upon the situation, how they act towards the other members of the organization and how the other members of their organization act towards the leader. July 7, 2015 by Steve Fanis 2 Comments Fiedler’s Contingency Model, as described in Northouse (2013, pg. Path-Goal theory in the Northouse text (2013, pg 137-144) looks to me to be more in line with much of the leadership I was taught at Airman Leadership School years ago. When you get a new troop into your office, you have to take time to sit down, clearly define the important points upon which you as a supervisor will be grading performance, and then both sign an initial feedback contract. Either way, the Air Force ideally expects leaders to shift their leadership style in relation to the behavior and attitudes of the subordinates. In previous theories we’ve learned about adapting our leadership to our followers’ developmental levels. As the table below highlights, within contingency theory, leaders don’t adapt their behaviors: they are consistent (Pennsylvania State University, 2015). Pietro Piumetti on Depending on the SituationPietro Piumetti on The World’s Best Militarysam6428 on Depending on the SituationPorsche A. Every leader has their own unique voice and their own individual approach to people and projects. Not because it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside (In fact, the very best teams have few warm fuzzies). They get things done and really don’t care whose idea it is (or who gets the credit for that idea). They know that too much change can be disruptive and bring a natural diplomacy to the situations they are in. Developers can be impatient when solutions don’t work immediately and too quick to find an alternative. My team lead was all for participation but not very upfront enough to tell someone what to do.
It was the fact that a light bulb had kicked on in my thoughts that had me staring blankly at my blog screen. As I let this sink in, I began to consider the fact that studying leadership is, in point of fact, of form of leadership. It seems apparent that those who are dedicated to the study of leadership are also responsible for the advancement of the science that they themselves are direct participants in.


The interconnections, the weaves of analogous facets into the different theories, the similarities between studies, are what really make the study of leadership special, and what allow it to be studied effectively.
However, even if this theory is the most popular theory, its still a theory, which means it’s a claim that hasn’t been proven true. For example, even though my friend may be a better leader than I am on our summer league basketball team, I may be a better leader than him as a project manager at work.
More specifically, the path-goal theory emulates that the leader’s success is reliant upon their interpersonal relationships and their behavior towards the followers in the group or organization when the leader is assigning tasks to them (Northouse, 2013). However, Fiedler’s Contingency Model, also known as Fiedler’s Contingency Theory, is differs from the path-goal theory in that the path-goal theory is a part of groups of theories, but Fiedler’s Contingency Model specifically attempts to put leaders in the scenario where they are the most applicable (Northouse, 2013). 123-126), seems to be an attempt to mathematically quantify leadership, and honestly, it probably does a decent job. We learned a ‘carrot and stick’ approach, where paths to goals were clearly defined, expectations were clearly laid out, and then rewards or corrective actions were given appropriately along the way. From time to time, you give verbal feedback, and that can also include written letters of counseling or reprimand. If Airman Smith is a hard worker who always has her tasks complete on time, leadership may find the best way to treat her is to use an achievement-oriented approach. That is in direct alignment with what most think leaders should be: adaptable, follower-centric, and empathetic.
How effective a leader is therefore depends on either a) tailoring a leadership situation to the leader’s predetermined and preferred style, or b) finding the right leader for a given situation. I’m not sure about your organizations, but the companies I’ve had the privilege of being part of do not have the time or the resources to try on leaders like trying on running shoes. Leaders should be accountable for the success of their teams, whether the situation is ideal or not.
Should leaders be accountable for their performance (and that of their situation) or do you agree with contingency theory?
It also means bringing others into your inner circle who have a very different style than yours, trusting them and listening to them to compensate for your weaknesses. Activators can push oneself and others too hard for results and burn everyone out, including themselves. Traditionally, this constitutes a rather major flaw in the experiment, since researchers cannot be biased in any way while testing hypotheses for their research to be valid. That being said, I personally disagree with this perspective to a some degree because if the CEO of a company realizes that how he or she is running their business isn’t the most efficient and productive way, he or she would alter the way they do things and how their employees take care of their tasks at work.
Furthermore, contingency means when someone or something depends on someone or something else, which is relevant to Fiedler’s Contingency Theory because this theory states that the success rate of a leader is dependent upon how the leader and their teammates or group members work together and produce (Northouse, 2013). In addition, the leader’s lasting effect on their followers also has to do with how their followers act upon their leader’s requests. Since Fiedler’s Contingency Theory is the most well-known contingency theory, many people frequently refer to it over the other contingency theories.
However, like anything else where numbers are subjectively assigned by individuals, the results will be wildly different.
Conversely, if Airman Jones is constantly missing deadlines and shows up late, leadership should probably start out with a directive approach, and shift approaches if Jones can clean up his act. Because they kind of go against everything we are taught about how we should act as leaders. Nor would these organizations rework entire projects or offices to ensure the leader can work with the confines of the situation.
In that sense, contingency theories give leaders an out: if they fail, it was because the situation wasn’t right. Developers also enjoy creative ideas, but their drive is to take action on those ideas, so their list of things on the blank piece of paper is shorter than the Innovator’s.


Maximizers can fail to take action on critical initiatives if the decision is perceived as unpopular. Then recruit other leaders who are very different from you, listen to them deeply and trust them completely. Many leaders may not be able to change to become the leader their company aspires them to be, but some leaders have in fact do so, which means that Fiedler’s Contingency Theory isn’t universally proven to be true.
Another aspect of Fiedler’s contingency model is that leaders act the same way throughout a long period of time and over various scenarios (Northouse, 2013).
For example, if the followers don’t respect their leader, they may not do what their leader has asked them to do, which means the leader will have to take the fall for the organization. Although, many people have strong beliefs about this theory and don’t consider that people can learn and become the leader their organization is desperate for them to be.
If I take the Least Preferred Coworker Measure test and score 79, it may be that I am more relationship motivated…or it may mean that I simply have a lower threshold for emotions that I feel toward that least preferred coworker, leading to a higher average score on each factor. All of this culminates in the yearly evaluation report, which includes bulleted statements describing specific accomplishments, and a numerical value from one to five that quantifies performance for the whole year. And Stabilizers can apply systems and processes too rigidly, insisting on a policy for every situation and paralyzing the organization. Fiedler’s contingency theory also portrays that some leaders are more successful and beneficial to their organization than other people would be under certain circumstances Northouse, 2013). This is another part of this theory that I don’t necessarily agree with because in some circumstances this may be true but in others’ it may not be.
Another example of this dilemma would be if one of the group members doesn’t do their part and the other group members see that the leader doesn’t act on that, they likely won’t do their part and they may not agree to pick up the slack of their group member that didn’t do their part. An example of this would be when Paul Pierce was able to be a leader during the NBA playoffs when he was on the Los Angeles Clippers, but he wasn’t able to do so when he played for the Brooklyn Nets just a season before. Hence, the leader would have to take the blame for the lack of effort of the one group member that didn’t do what the leader assigned them to do.
However, once you have accepted that, the idea of the Contingency Model looks like it has a real handle on providing a good look at leadership. Suppose the supervisor marks the subordinate lower in the “Dress and Appearance” category because the subordinate chose to wear a short-sleeve blue shirt. On the Los Angeles Clippers, he was the go-to player to give the ball to in order to make the game winning shot, but on the Brooklyn Nets, he didn’t make much of a contribution.
Intuitively, one would think that in a group concerned primarily with inter-group relationships, a leader with that same mentality would fit well and tend to bring harmony, and eventually success to the group. However, the subordinate can provide the initial feedback form where this specific issue was never addressed—in essence, the supervisor set a goal without providing that knowledge to the subordinate, nor providing a path to completion of that goal.
For this reason, a good supervisor should always provide ratings based only on paths and goals that were adequately defined from the start.
With the Least Preferred Coworker Measure test, Fiedler seems to have pre-empted a phenomenon seen today on the internet—the trick where websites try to guess something about you based on your answers to a set number of questions.
Sometimes they guess your home state by choice of vocabulary, sometimes they guess your political leanings by preference or agreement with statements. Either way, those websites remain popular, and seem to have taken a page from the same book from which Fiedler was working.




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