Several other leadership styles have been identified since the Lippitt et al study. Bales (1950) made a distinction between task specialist and socioemotional specialist. According to this view, both styles were inversely related and no individual could display both styles simultaneously, but their presence was a certain indicator of leadership potential. This support for this idea came from a major leadership study in the Ohio State carried out by Fleischman and Stogdill, (1974), and later research by Sorrentino and Field (1986) who conducted detailed observations of 12 problem-solving groups over a five-week period.
Those members scoring high on both of Bales’ styles were later elected leaders. Despite the new focus on leadership behaviour over the personality traits, there was an obvious need for a thorough analysis of the situational factors in determining leadership effectiveness. By using interactionist perspective Fiedler (1967) came up with the contingency model of leadership effectiveness.
Its main concern was with the interaction of leader’s personal qualities or leadership style and the requirements of the situation.Fiedler accepted Bales’ distinction of two different styles of leadership and devised a measurement scale for their assessment. It was named the least preferred co-worker scale or LPC. The leader’s personality was assessed based on the leader’s liking for the least preferred co-worker. High scorers on this scale are those who evaluate their least preferred co-worker relatively favorably and they tend to adopt a relationship-orientated leadership style. On the contrary, low scorers were found to be more task-orientated.
The effectiveness of either style of leadership is contingent on the amount of control a situation allows the leader to have over the group (Eysenck, 2000). In general the contingency model has accumulated substantial empirical support (Struhe and Garcia, 1981) where task oriented leaders tend to be more successful than relationship oriented leaders regardless of the level of situational control. Relationship oriented leaders nonetheless proved to be more successful when the level of situation control is moderate.This demonstrates that there is no such thing as a good leader for all types of situations.
There are other problems with Fiedler’s contingency model. Because there is a lack of precise definition of different LPC scores, which makes the correlations open to interpretation in more than one way (Eysenck, 2000). Another irregularity which was noticed by Triandis (1993) is that the studies were carried out in cultures where the sense of individual identity is very strong. This could account for the high effectiveness of task-oriented leaders, which may not be the case in collectivist cultures.
Whatever the merits of Fiedler’s model, it completely sees leadership as a one-way influence process, however, to understand leadership effectively, it must be seen as a two-way process. The behaviour and attitudes of the followers inevitably have an effect on leadership. Hollander (1993) argued that leaders and followers are engaged in a social exchange relationship. According to this transactional theory, the leader provides benefits to the followers and they in turn respond by becoming more responsive to the leader’s influence.Follower confidence in the leadership will grow as the leader shows signs of competence and agreement with the norms of the group. After this transaction takes place, the leader is allowed to innovate, even if this means failing to obey some rules of the group (Eysenck, 2000). This freedom of action leads to more productivity and therefore more effective leadership. In conclusion it is evident that human life is such a complex web of personal interactions and situations that no one formula regardless of its flexibility can truly predict who might emerge as a leader and how effective they are going to be.
Therefore, it is not possible to uncritically accept any theories previously discussed. History is full of examples where the most unexpected person ended up holding the wheel of power. Leadership, as Lewin concluded, is a successful combination of the leaders, the led and the group situation.
With the arrival of new technology, the research into leadership is entering a new chapter. Only recently, a study was carried out on identical and non identical twins in the University of Western Ontario. The result showed that over 50% of leadership ability differences were linked to genetics.Although the trait approach has largely been out of fashion for several decades among social psychologists, the view of leadership in the general public remains strongly associated with personal qualities of an individual.
The romance and the mystery surrounding leadership live on.BibliographyAronson, E. (1998) The Social Animal. W H Freeman Brown, R. (2000) Group Processes. Blackwell Publishers Burns, J. M.
(1978) Leadership. New York: Harper Eysenck, M. W. (2000) Psychology: A Student’s Handbook. Psychology Press