Fiedler’s Contingency Model

Cite this article as:"Fiedler’s Contingency Model," in The Business Professor, updated April 9, 2020, last accessed September 26, 2020,


What is Fiedler’s Contingency Model?

Leadership Theorist Fred Fiedler introduced the incorporation of situational variables into leadership study. Specifically, he identified situational variables and research how they interrelated with leadership styles.

His contingency model has the following elements:

  • Leadership Styles – Styles are broken down into task-oriented and human-relations oriented styles. Task orientation focuses on task completion. Human relations orientation focuses on interpersonal relationships with subordinates. To determine the leadership style, Fiedler developed the “Least Preferred Co-Worker Scale”. The scale attributes a rating of 1 – 8 to leaders in the following categories: Pleasant/Unpleasant, Friendly/Unfriendly, Rejecting/Accepting, Tense/Relaxed, Distant/Close, Cold/Warm, Supportive/Hostile, Boring/Interesting, Quarrelsome/Harmonious, Gloomy/Cheerful, Open/Guarded, Backbiting/Loyal, Untrustworthy/Trustworthy, Considerate/Inconsiderate, Nasty/Nice, Agreeable/Disagreeable, Insincere/Sincere, Kind/Unkind. A high total score means relationship-oriented. A low score means task-oriented.
  • Situational Variables – Fiedler identified three factors affecting the effectiveness of a leadership style:
    • Leader’s Position Power – The greater the positional power of the leader, the more it influences subordinate behavior.
    • Task Structure – Increased specificity in task structure (requirements, goals, process, and relationships) leads to increased control over the subordinate.
    • Leader-Member Relations – To what extent do subordinates trust and have confidence and faith in their leader.
  • Relationship between Styles and Situations – The effectiveness of a leader’s style depends upon the situational variables. This provides the opportunity for the manager to improve her leadership ability by identifying and executing the appropriate style.

Was this article helpful?