Contingency and Situational Theory in Leadership


This essay focuses on contingency theory and situational theory in leadership. It also compares these theories with an article. It mentions the importance of various factors affecting leadership.


Leadership is good quality. It depends on many features as the leader, followers, and circumstances. The leader’s personality, his post and experience, follower’s morality and ethics, custom and their unity, and the working atmosphere and characteristics of the working task will affect the leadership. (Chapter 2: leadership involves an interaction between the leader, the followers, and the situation 1999).

This essay mentions leadership based on the contingency theory and situational theory. Situational theory and contingency theory have many similarities. The situational theory focuses on the behavior of the leader and the contingency theory focuses on the contingent factors. (Contingency theory 2009).

Contingency theory of leadership

There are four theories related to the contingency of leadership. These theories are developed based on the outcome of various empirical researches. All these theories point out that leaders should have the ability to extract the key features of their followers and the situation. All these theories mention that leaders should be flexible. They also state that the equality or unity between the leader, subordinates, and the situation will generate a positive outcome for the organization. Contingency theory says that the leadership style in one situation may not be suited for the other situation. According to this theory, the success of the leadership depends on many factors like “leadership style, qualities of the followers, and aspects of the situation.” (Van Wagner 2009).

Leadership style means the leader’s ability in task motivation and how he motivates the relationship between him and the followers and between followers. The success of the leadership also depends on the structure of the task. It means the specified goals and the procedure they follow to achieve the goal. Leaders should have the power to control their followers. He can provide rewards and punishments based on their approaches to the aimed task and the responsibility to the organization.

The situational theory of leadership

According to situational theory, successful leadership needs leadership and management qualities. This theory states that a leader should be purposeful and should have the ability to evaluate the subordinate’s willingness to do the task. It depends on two factors. One is their skills in the allotted duty and the second is their readiness to do the allotted task. Simply, the leader should know the strength and weaknesses of the followers. It helps the leader to determine which type of leadership is to be used to get the desired result from the followers. (Situational leadership theory).

There is an influence of the situation in all the actions done by the leader. To take a situational decision the subordinates’ capacity and enthusiasm will affect. The relationship between the subordinates and the leader is very important here. In leadership, a leader’s awareness about his followers and the working atmosphere will have more control than the real situation. (Contingency theory 2009).

Comparison between the given article and the contingency and situational theory

From the above-mentioned two theories, it is clear that followers have a clear influence on the success of a leader. If an organization has good leadership it automatically achieves the desired goals. It shows the close relationship between the members of the organization and the success of the organization. This article also says that the performance of the organization and the success of the organization cannot be separated. Contingency theory mentions the importance of a leader’s position. By using the power of his position he can give rewards and punishment to his followers. According to the given article, these types of rewards will help the organization to attain success. This is called a virtuous spiral.

This article also mentions that for the success of an organization the skills of the employees are a very important factor. As per contingency theory, a leader should have the ability for finding the qualities and weaknesses of his followers, and based on that he can advise and assign works to them. According to situation theory leader’s awareness about the followers is the most important factor. It will help the success of the organization. According to this article “a clearly identified leadership style can be a powerful factor in attracting, retaining, and motivating the right employees.” (Lawler 2007). Contingency theory also says the same thing. According to that theory leadership style is an important factor in leadership. Here the leadership style means the leader’s ability in task and relationship motivation. The article also says about the importance of the understanding of managers and leaders. It influences the performance of the company. (Lead People Right). (Lawler 2007).

The situational theory says that for the success of the leadership both these factors are important.

About Lawler article

Lawler’s article discusses the three aspects which influence leadership. It tells that the relationship between members of the organization is very important for the success of an organization. It also deals with the importance of the leaders’ understanding of the followers. It also mentions that good leadership is an asset for the company. The reason for that is a good leader can lead the organization to success. In short, this article shows the importance of leadership and the need for leadership in an organization. It is an elaborated form of the contingency theory and situational theory.


Contingency theory and situational theory are very important in today’s competing business world. Lack of good leadership is a major problem for the failure of a company and projects. For good leadership, the support from the members, working environment, and behavior of the leader are very important. Another important factor is that leadership style should be developed based on the prevailing condition. It is not a predefined one.

Though clearly identified leadership style has a great significance in the effectiveness of the leadership, it is not meant that it should be a universal style. By clearly identified leadership style, it means there should not be any ambiguity in the leadership process or in achieving the leadership objectives. While designing the leadership style, it is better to consider the environment and surroundings that influence the leadership process. The leaders are supposed to change according to the situation.


Chapter 2: leadership involves an interaction between the leader, the followers, and the situation 1999, Irvin/The McGraw-Hill, Web.

2009, Changing, 2009, Web.

Lawler, Edward, E 2007, Leader to leader journal leading a virtuous-spiral organization: developing a leadership brand, Leader to Leader Institute, Web.

Lawler, Edward, E 2007, Leader to leader journal leading a virtuous-spiral organization, Leader to Leader Institute, Web.

Situational leadership theory, 2009, Web.

Van Wagner, Kendra 2009, Leadership theories: Contingency theories, Psychology, Web.

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