How to be a Leader

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Leaders are not born, they are made. But what does it takes to develop a leader? What should you develop in a leader?

Most concentrate on the traits and values a person possesses to consider him/her a leader. One should be trustworthy, disciplined, team player, dependable, and can lead a group. But many also failed in their attempts to become a leader. Why? It is because most also overlook the reality that we can’t control every situation − that it’s a matter of black and white.There are always external factors that affect the success of leadership in a given instances. This is what Frederick Fiedler in his Contingency Theory, and Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey in their Situational Leadership Theory (SLT) explored to introduce alternative approaches to leadership.

Fiedler’s Contingency Theory

Contingency is an event that has a possibility to occur which can disrupt the normal flow of organization. Fiedler’s contingency approach to leadership takes in consideration these events that can interrupt leader’s management of a group if the foundations of leadership are traits and Patience. His new method is to determine certain situation that is appropriate for a certain leadership style.His model matches the leadership styles of a person to a specified condition. It simply works like finding your job based on your course or profession. You will lead a group of your preference or applicable to your approach.

How it works?

1. Determine the Leadership Style

Fiedler developed Least Preferred Co-Worker (LPC) survey that categorize a leader from task-oriented or relationship-oriented. The leader is asked to rate his/her least preferred co-worker in mind in different characteristics. If you get a high LPC scale, then you’re people-motivated, which means you can still work with the person you dislike. While low LPC scale indicates that you’re task-motivated and you can’t work with that person you don’t like.

2. Identify the Situation Favorableness

According to Fiedler, High LPC scaled leaders can work under medium favorable situation, on the other hand, low LPC scaled leaders can function well whether it’s a favorable or not favorable state. Fiedler used this three factors in determining the situation favorableness.

Leader-member relations. It is the link between the leader and subordinates. It is measured by the trust, respect and openness a member has to his/her leader.

Task structure. It is the arrangement and proper delegation of tasks inside the team.

Position power. It is the hold of the leader over his/her people. How much authority and influence a leader can exert to the members?

3. Match Leadership Style to a Particular Situation (or vice versa)

Leadership styles will not likely to change, what Fiedler proposed is to place the right person under the right environment or to alter the situation to suit the leader’s personality.


Fiedler’s Contingency Approach is the pioneering idea in alternatives ways to cultivate leadership. Many had the chance to test and validate his findings. This approach is tested by time. This approach started the thinking that leaders will not be effective in all situations. It recognizes the reality of unpredictable circumstances.


This approach has its own downside of course. To quantify situation favorableness is almost impossible as it so subjective. The theory is also too general to be applicable in real world. The theory also forgot to explain the why’s in its principles. Why is this level of LPC effective in this situation and not in this certain condition? It also failed to give solution or to even explain what can happen if the matching is not followed, which is common nowadays.

Situational Leadership of Hersey and Blanchard

Unlike Fiedler’s approach of having certain leadership styles, Hersey-Blanchard situational approach to leadership take for considerations the different contingencies and leaders should adapt their leadership styles based on these. Universally used today, Situational Leadership Theory (SLT) is simple yet influential approach on how someone should lead a group. It has a characteristic of going beyond the leader as the action to adjust is made by him/her. SLT asks for leader’s flexibility and thorough observation. Moreover, the situation is being defined by members’ preparedness and willingness to the job and leaders should apply the appropriate style based on their readiness.

How it works?

The key factor for SLT is to identify the right situation right away so that the leader can know what type of leadership style is applicable.

There are four different situations SLT established:

1. Low Preparedness

Member is not competent and not willing­– It is when the member is in the starting level and doesn’t know the way around

2. Moderate

Member is not competent but willing­– It is not uncommon to have members who have the energy, but still lack the skills. Member is competent but not willing – There are also circumstances that an able agent is not so willing to do the work.

3. High

Member is competent and willing– This is the ultimate goal of every situational leaders, to have competent at the same time, willing members. On the other hand, leaders have two approaches and four different styles mixing these approaches.

  • Task Behavior – this approach is to give details of the tasks and responsibilities of the person
  • Relationship Behavior – is the approach of the leader in emotional side. It’s to build communication and connection towards his/her members.

Leadership Styles

Low Preparedness of Members

Telling (High Task/Low Relationship Behavior) – it is to provide specific instructions, with close supervision.

Moderate Preparedness of Members

Selling (High Task/High Relationship Behavior) –to lead by this style is to have devoted communication with the members, while relaying the points in decision-making.        Participating (Low Task/High Relationship Behavior) –this involves letting the member to share ideas and participate in decision making.
High Level Preparedness of Members: Delegating (Low Task/Low Relationship Behavior) – this not need any monitoring and instructions. Members are ready to take particular jobs on their own.


This approach is so simple that can be observe by everyone. It’s practical and popular. It defines how a leader should act and not what the leader should act. It emphasizes leaders’ flexibility and subordinates’ participation. It helps you to be equipped in the reality that people are dynamic. It is also facilitates the improvement of the members.


This model, on the other side, definitely addresses one-leader-to-one-member setting. It doesn’t specify how to handle groups. Members’ preferences for certain types of leadership are not recognized. Lastly, only limited research confirms this theory.

Contingency approaches to leadership respect the fact that every situation is different and can’t be predicted. To follow stiff routines can’t ensure the effectiveness of one’s leadership. But still at the end, you need to foster your own leadership style to express your individualism, and strive by you own.

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