Contingency theory is a part of behavioural theory that states that the success of a leader is not dependant on the leadership style (method) but is rather dependent on the external and internal factors of a situation(Lorsch, 2010). The theory basically explains that a leader does not succeed simply because of the style of leadership he/she uses but rather because of other factors (contingencies) such as the situation, the preferred leader’s style, the qualities (behaviour/character) of the leader, and the diversity of the leadership styles (how the leader is able to employ different styles in different situations). Therefore this theory negates theories that tend to elevate some leadership styles over others and to link success of a leader to specific leadership skills.
A pictorial representation of the contingency theory model- the diagram shows some specific factors (contingencies) that influence the success of a leader (outcome of leadership). According to this model the outcome of leadership are dependent on the environmental factors (these are related to the work environment such as the team spirit, how tasks are structured, the authority systems), the behavior of the leader (does the leader just direct or supervise, does the leader encourage participation or is the leader just interested in achieving the goals). The subordinate factors have to do with how the leader perceives and handle the subordinate- is s/he controlling, does s/he value their experience and the abilities thus assign tasks appropriately. These three sets of factors therefore determine the outcomes of leadership which is measured in terms of the organizations performance and the satisfaction of those being led (employees as well as customers in business situations).
Gives the main fact of the theory thereby summarizing what the theory is all about. The point is that there is no particular leadership style is superior and that a particular leadership style that is very successful in one situation may not get the same results in another situation.
Examples of leaders that ascribe to the theory include President Barak Obama and Donald Trump. The president has shown an extraordinary ability to respond differently to various situations. Abroad, and more specifically on matters relating to Islamic countries, he is humble, conciliatory and keen to listen while at home when facing the recent economic downturn he has been firm when calling for change e.g forcing automobile companies such as GM to accept new standards. Trump on the other hand is known to be very firm with employees yet in certain situations he is known to listen and take time to consider the facts before to making decisions.
There is a tendency to confuse situational leadership and contingency leadership theories because they both agree that there is no particular leadership style that is superior. However there is a difference in that contingency theory of leadership has a broader view on leadership that include contingencies like the situation itself, the leader’s preferred style of leading, qualities of a leader and the diversity of leadership styles. On the other hand situational theory has a narrow view which focuses on situational factors like behavioural traits of the leader