Unlike previous models, Fred Fiedler's proposed model for leadership assumed that different types of leaders are required for different situations. The Fielder model, or situational contingency, proposed that a leader in a strict, task-oriented workplace would have different qualities than a leader in a more open, idea-driven workplace. The model is also the basis for the Cognitive Resource Theory (CRT), which expands the number of traits analyzed in the leader.
Least Preferred Co-Worker (LPC) Test
The Fiedler contingency model measures leadership traits with a test that provides a leadership score that corresponds to the workplace where the leader would be most suited. In the Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) test, the test taker is asked to think of someone he or she least preferred working with, and rate that person on a one to eight scale for different traits. For example, the taker is asked to rate the co-worker from Unfriendly (1) to Friendly (8), or Guarded (1) to Open (8). The ratings are then totaled and averaged. Generally, a higher LPC score means the person is more oriented to human relations, while a lower score means the person is more oriented to tasks.
The LPC test is not actually about the co-worker; it is about the test taker . Test takers who are more oriented to human relations generally rate their least preferred co-workers higher, and the opposite is true for task-oriented test takers. The LPC test reveals how the test taker responds to those that he or she does not like working with, and thereby shows where the test-taker would be best as a leader.
The Fiedler model also analyzes the situation in which the leader exists. There are three components to the analysis:
- Leader-Member Relations, which is the amount of respect, trust, and confidence between the leader and his or her followers.
- Task Structure, which is the amount of structure in the task at hand.
- Leader Position Power, which is the amount of power the leader has based on his or her position or title within the group.
The Fiedler model defines a favorable situation as one with good Leader-Member Relations, high Task Structure, and high Leader Position Power. The model posits that those who score low on the LPC test perform best when the situation is either highly favorable or very unfavorable, while those who score high on the LPC test perform best between the extremes.
Criticism of the Fielder Model
There has been some push-back against the Fiedler model. Critics argue that the test is not accurate in reflecting the personality traits it is designed to measure. Also, the test implies that the leader must be changed if he or she is not in the right situation.