Influence of situational factors on effective leadership
What is Effective Leadership
One of the earliest efforts to identify the determinants of effective leadership was the trait or “great man” method. This was based on the notion that certain personal characteristics are responsible for leadership and that effective leadership can be understood and predicted by identifying and measuring these traits. Stogdill (1948) reviewed 124 studies between 1904 and 1947 that attempted to identify characteristics of leaders. These include temperaments (e.g., dominance, originality, self-confidence) physical appearance (e.g., height, weight, physique, health, age) cognitive factors (e.g., intelligence, knowledge, scholarship) and other characteristics (e.g., social skills, socio-economic status). Some individual characteristics were associated with leadership but correlations were low. Moreover, the necessary characteristics for leadership varied depending on the situation, leading Stogdill (1948) to conclude that leadership depends upon the match between individual traits and situational factors.
The results obtained with both the trait and behavior approaches suggests that situational factors heavily influence leader performance. Several theories regarding the influence of situational variables on leadership have been proposed. Some theories suggest that leader effectiveness is determined by the interaction of individual characteristics and situational constraints. One of the most prominent interactive theories is Fiedler’s LPC Contingency Model. Fiedler (1964, 1967) suggests that leaders can be segmented into those that emphasize close, supportive relationships with subordinates (i.e., high LPC), and those that stress the achievement of tasks (i.e., low LPC). However, Fiedler also asserts that the effectiveness of these leadership styles depends upon three situational factors, leader-member relations, leader position power and task structure. According to Fiedler, low LPC leaders are the most effective when situations are highly favorable (i.e., when leader-member relations are good, and position power and task structure are high) or when situations are highly unfavorable (i.e., when leader-member relations are poor, and position power and task structure are low).
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Other theories focus exclusively on situational factors. Situational influences include variables such as subordinate expertise, maturity and motivation; repetitiveness of tasks, amount of information possessed by leader/subordinates, the probability and importance of subordinate acceptance of leader decisions, likelihood of conflict among subordinates regarding decision-making, the degree to which subordinates accept the organization’s goals, formalization and inflexibility of the organization, situational stress, and leader experience (Evans, 1974; Fiedler & Garcia, 1987; Hersey & Blanchard, 1982; House & Mitchell, 1974; Kerr & Jermier, 1978; Vroom & Yetton, 1973).
Major variables that influence leadership behaviors are following:
Cooperation between leaders and subordinates
Effectiveness of the leader’s support to the subordinates
Direct leadership style is highly recommended for effective and positive work of subordinates
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To conclude, it can be said that effective leadership is a key element in the progress of an organization. So, the best way to make an organization progressive is that the most suited people should be chosen as leaders. They should be trained according to the demands of the organization. Situational factors must also be kept in mind while measuring the effectiveness of a leader’s performance in an organization.