Situational or Contingency Leadership Approaches

Cite this article as:"Situational or Contingency Leadership Approaches," in The Business Professor, updated April 9, 2020, last accessed October 29, 2020,


What is Situational Leadership or Contingency Approaches to Leadership?

The situational or contingency approaches to leadership concern how the context of an individual’s actions relate to whether they are perceived as a leader or whether their attempts at leadership are effective.

The dominant theories related to contextual leadership are as follows:

  • Fiedler’s Contingency Model – This theory asserts that leaders who are task-oriented are more effective in extreme situations (really good or bad). Leaders who are relationship-oriented leaders are most effective when a situation is moderately favorable in nature.
  • Hursey-Blanchard Situational Model – This Theory identifies four progressively decentralized leadership styles that progress as the maturity level of follower increases.
  • House’s Path-Goal Theory – This theory states that the leaders choose a style based upon the motivational needs of the employees. The employee must believe that the leader’s actions lead to increased performance. The employee must also believe that increased performance will be rewarded in a way that meets the employee’s motivational needs.
  • Vroom and Yetton’s Normative Decision Model – This theory takes into account the context and decision-making environment in which the leader must act. The environment will dictate how participative the leader is with employees.

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