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Individual differences and behavior in organizations

Contingency-focused approaches[edit]

Of the 3 approaches to leadership, contingency-focused approaches have been the most prevalent over the past 30 years. Contingency-focused theories base a leader’s effectiveness on their ability to assess a situation and adapt their behavior accordingly.[128] These theories assume that an effective leader can accurately “read” a situation and skillfully employ a leadership style that meets the needs of the individuals involved and the task at hand. A brief introduction to the most prominent contingency-focused theories will follow.

Fiedler’s Contingency Theory holds that a leader’s effectiveness depends on the interaction between their characteristics and the characteristics of the situation. Path–Goal Theoryasserts that the role of the leader is to help his or her subordinates achieve their goals. To effectively do this, leaders must skillfully select from four different leadership styles to meet the situational factors. The situational factors are a product of the characteristics of subordinates and the characteristics of the environment. The Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Model focuses on how leader–subordinate relationships develop. Generally speaking, when a subordinate performs well or when there are positive exchanges between a leader and a subordinate, their relationship is strengthened, performance and job satisfaction are enhanced, and the subordinate will feel more commitment to the leader and the organization as a whole.[129] Vroom-Yetton-Jago Model focuses on decision making with respect to a feasibility set[128] which is composed of the situational attributes.

In addition to the contingency-focused approaches mentioned, there has been a high degree of interest paid to three novel approaches that have recently emerged. The first is transformational leadership, which posits that there are certain leadership traits that inspire subordinates to perform beyond their capabilities. The second is transactional leadership, which is most concerned with keeping subordinates in-line with deadlines and organizational policy.