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Contingency Theories and Situational Theory

Contingency theories generated a novel philosophical approach about organizations, and they are essential to the comprehension of organizational structures and forms. These theories acknowledged that organizational structures are open systems, and there is no particular approach to organizing. Hence, organizations require attaining a “good fit” between internal and external systems (Kulkarni 2017, p.1). Whereas behavioral theories aid managers in developing certain leadership behaviors, they offer limited guidance on the elements of effective leadership in diverse situations. Therefore contingency theories become useful as they emphasize the situational variables that leaders should handle and criticize the ideologies of a collective set of traits linked to effective leadership (Villoria 2016, p.1). They apply to organizations that integrate an open recruitment process when selecting their managers. This theory incorporates various tools, including contingency planning. Alternatively, situational theory dictates that leaders integrate a style that aligns with their employees’ requirements and characteristics (Thompson and Glasø 2018, p.2). Therefore, it allows flexibility and is dependent on Leader-member relations, positional power, and task structure. This theory has been significant in comprehending dyadic leadership since it accentuates the importance of adaptive behavior and flexibility that have become essential principles in recent research. Moreover, it underlines the significance of treating each employee differently and the need for leaders to identify opportunities that can aid in developing the skillfulness and confidence of their followers. This theory can be utilized in educational systems, whereby the central government does the recruitment of principals.


Transactional leadership and Transformational leadership

Transactional leadership, also referred to as managerial leadership, is centered on organization, group performance, and supervision. Transactional leaders occasionally display the traits of charismatic leaders and are useful in empowering and developing motivated team members. These leaders mainly utilize rewards and punishments to achieve compliance from subordinates, and they recognize the structure and existing culture of organizations. Transactional leaders are willing to operate within existing systems; they seek out deviation from organizational rules and enforce corrective action as well as supply all the ideas (Kabeyi 2018, p.191). They are task-oriented. This leadership is applicable in multinational conglomerates that are not necessarily searching for innovation, research, and development, although their focus is on capitalizing and growing demand and supply. On the other hand, transformational leadership inspires and motivates followers to become ethical leaders by training employees to distinguish organizational complexities and awareness. This leadership style is characterized by the following components; idealized influence, individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, and inspirational motivation. Idealized influence involves the use of charisma to gain the trust of employees and to identify with them. Intellectual stimulation is whereby leaders challenge their status and endorse followers’ ideas. Individualized consideration is the degree to which those in leadership positions appeal to their followers’ needs while inspirational motivation is how leaders articulate their vision to their employees (Bouchard 2019, p. 5). Transformational leaders are emotionally intelligent since they understand themselves and consider the feelings of their subordinates. Companies that need innovation and research, mainly technology companies can integrate this form of leadership.


McGregor theory

McGregor theory asserts that there are two kinds of management styles: Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X, also referred to as the authoritarian management style, affirms that employees are lazy and avoid responsibility. Employees require control and must be controlled and threatened by punishment for them to perform. Theory Y is also known as the participatory management style. It asserts that individuals often apply self-control and self-direction in search of organizational goals without the threat of punishment or external influence, motivated staff feel rewarded by achieving objectives, and individuals regularly search for responsibility (Kopelman, Prottas, and Davis 2008, p.255). Moreover, theory Y affirms that the capacity to utilize inventiveness and creativity in solving organizational problems is extensively distributed within the population, and the logical potential of the average person is only partially used. Theory X would be applicable in instances when employees appear to be less motivated, while theory Y should target employees who are creative and specialized in particular fields of expertise.

Social role theory

Social role theory addresses an extensive scope of gender roles and includes the interactions in various contexts. It addresses power- related behaviors and supportive or feeling related behaviors. The theory explanations offered are, however, not very specific. The theory states that females will generally act more communally and less instrumentally than males within a similar setting. These divergences are most significant when gender is highly relevant in a situation. In contrast, these differences are weak when individuals perform formal or institutional roles. The theory proposes that individuals are expected to engage in activities consistent with their culturally defined gender roles. Women are ‘nurturers’.These prevents them from accessing senior leadership positions in most organizations. For organizations to achieve optimal performance, they must address this problem. This theory is applicable to organizations that limit women from accessing leadership positions. The theory could inform them of the importance of addressing this concern and group representation.

Distributed leadership

The distributed leadership affirms that leadership is not limited to one individual. As opposed to having one leader, there are several leaders and followers. Hence, a group can have more than one leader. Each group member can also become a leader enabling knowledge distribution since the diverse set of skills and proficiency of several individuals can be utilized to enhance organizational performance.  The theory’s perspective focuses on situated leadership practice rather than general accounts of the actions of individual leaders. The leader acknowledges the efforts of all the people who participate in leadership and management practice instead of solely focusing on those who have officially designated management roles. In turn, these elements of leadership provide a systematic framework for assessing the daily practices of management and leadership as opposed to dwelling on leadership structures and functions (Bolden 2011, p. 252). Additionally, it is considered a group activity that works through relationships as opposed to individual action. Distributed leadership can effectively be applied in coalition governments. Such governments share power, and when politicians work together, they can improve major economic sectors in a nation.

In my view, transactional and transformational theories provide an understanding of the function of leadership in contemporary businesses because they identify the various traits that are significant in the performance of businesses. The transactional theory demonstrates the effectiveness of the reward system in organizations and how it aids employees in performance. It further acknowledges the importance of leaders complying with existing organizational goals and how they contribute to the progress of businesses. The transformational theory also demonstrates the significance of motivating employees and gaining their trust. It states the importance of allowing employees to share their opinions and skills. Moreover, these leaders are emotionally intelligent, a critical component in businesses’ success, since they are sociable and willing to change. Considering that most modern businesses aim to expand, achieve their goals and invent, I believe that these theories are appropriate for aiding leaders in identifying strategies they can incorporate to ascertain successful ventures. They are relevant in addressing the importance of managers’ and employee’s relationships. Nevertheless, I believe that in order to comprehend the leadership role more effectively, it is best to combine the two approaches as this will enable modern businesses to achieve their goals and enhance their research and invention capabilities.

Authentic leadership

Authentic leadership is a leadership approach that stresses the advancement of a leader’s legitimacy through honest relationships with subordinates by valuing them and building an ethical foundation. It is achieved through self-acceptance, self-awareness, legitimacy, and awareness of one’s vulnerabilities. In essence, authentic leaders are positive individuals who promote honesty, possess values they believe are right, and nurture trusting relationships with their followers. Authentic leadership is essential as it facilitates trust between a leader and followers. Followers expect leaders to be accountable for their actions and to fulfill their promises. Hence, an authentic leader easily influences his or her followers by his actions. Authentic leaders value the intrapersonal and interpersonal perspectives since they are not only concerned about their awareness of how they affect the world around them, but also how their interactions with other individuals, including employees and customers, affect their self-image. In my perspective, these leaders target to improve themselves and their followers. Authentic leaders are depicted as highly self- aware and articulate values consistent with their beliefs (Besen, Tecchio and Fialho 2017, p.8). They trust their motives and desires, which they utilize to identify areas they can improve. Further, they inspire and empower their followers and have the capability of gaining more followers. I believe that these leaders are guided by a clear vision that enables them to identify organizational needs that correspond with their employees’ perspectives. Similar to transformational leaders, authentic leaders have high emotional intelligence and are capable of making the right decisions by considering others’ opinions. Self-regulation comprises processes such as internalized behavior, authentic behavior, balanced processing, and transparency that enable leaders to be role models for their subordinates. These leaders are transparent in their actions by ensuring that their followers see the contributions they make and know who they really are. Through transparency, the trust of followers is increased, prompting leaders to behave appropriately. Therefore, self-regulation contributes to leaders’ development by aligning their values and actions to generate positive outcomes for their followers. Authentic leadership acknowledges the significance of communication with organization stakeholders thus; it promotes effective communication among all stakeholders. This leadership paradigm recognizes the need for change and advocates its implementation by depending on followers. To clearly communicate their vision to internal stakeholders, these leaders ensure that they set SMART objectives. The intentions of authentic leaders should be good to assert that their followers are guided into the attainment of common goals.

Leader-Member Exchange theory

The Leader-Member Exchange theory is a leadership approach whereby the leader targets to establish unique relationships with followers. The relationships are not similar in any way, and they vary from one team member to another. Workers provide differing levels of proficiency, the willingness to make efforts for their work and motivation (Erdogan and Bauer 2014,p.407).In turn, this prompts leaders to build different relationships with different team members. Leaders tend to nurture high-quality relationships with competent employees than with those who are less competent. In my perspective, this approach is deemed a process approach since it emphasizes the essence of dynamic interactions between a leader and team members. It is regarded as a transactional approach because the leader and his or her followers are considered active participants. The leader identifies the in-group’ or ‘out-group to determine the most suitable training for each individual. This theory is deemed useful since it enables the leader to realize the diverse skills and experiences of his or her followers and work on developing them. Moreover, it enables leaders to identify the most suitable opportunities for training and development for each member. It also assesses the value of exchange relations between employees and managers, and the implications of these relationships on employees’ attitudes and performance. Consequently, the LMX theory is significant in determining high or low-quality associations and its organizational outcomes. High-quality relationships are associated with employees’ good performance and supervisors’ support that empowers employees by improving their perceptions of control. Research on the LMX theory affirms that workers with in-group status will likely have higher productivity, improved motivation, and job satisfaction (Van Breukelen, Schyns and Le Blanc 2006, p.297). Alternatively, low-quality relationships are linked to high equivalence and self- interest. This implies that high-quality relationships are similar to transformational types of relationships than transactional ones. Comprehension of this theory is effective because it enables leaders to identify various skills of each of their followers and determine approaches they can implement to enhance them further. This theory allows leaders to embrace diversity because it is through diversity that the team can perform effectively. When employees possess a variety of skills, leaders are able to distinguish them and provide the appropriate training. Nevertheless, leaders must take precautions when classifying the in-group’ or ‘out-group to prevent potential inequalities. It is recommended that they should target to have a larger in-group than out-group. Leaders should target to develop high-quality relationships with multiple employees to increase productivity.




Besen, F., Tecchio, E. and Fialho, F.A.P., 2017. Authentic leadership and knowledge management. Gestão & Produção, 24(1), pp.1-13.

Bolden, R., 2011. Distributed leadership in organizations: A review of theory and research. International journal of management reviews, 13(3), pp.251-269.

Bouchard, J., 2019. Transformational and Transactional Leadership. [online] Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333825703_Transformational_and_Transactional_Leadership> [Accessed 17 July 2020].

Erdogan, B. and Bauer, T.N., 2014. Leader-member exchange (LMX) theory: The relational approach to. The Oxford handbook of leadership and organizations, pp.407-434.

Kabeyi, M.J., 2018. Transformational vs transactional leadership with examples. The International Journal Of Business & Management, 6(5), pp.191-193.

Kopelman, R.E., Prottas, D.J. and Davis, A.L., 2008. Douglas McGregor’s theory X and Y: Toward a construct-valid measure. Journal of Managerial Issues, pp.255-271.

Kulkarni, V., 2017. Contingency Theory. The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication, pp.1-6.

Thompson, G. and Glasø, L., 2018. Situational leadership theory: a test from a leader-follower congruence approach. Leadership & Organization Development Journal.

Van Breukelen, W., Schyns, B. and Le Blanc, P., 2006. Leader-member exchange theory and research: Accomplishments and future challenges. Leadership, 2(3), pp.295-316.

Villoria, M., 2016. Contingency theory of leadership. Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance, pp.1-7.


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