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Contemporary issues in Organizational Leadership

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Discuss Fiedler’s original Model of Leadership and then compare this with his later development of Cognitive Resource Theory.

The first complete contingency model for leadership was presented in 1967 by Fred Fiedler’s. His contingency hypothesis was the first to identify how situational factors interrelate with the traits and behaviors of leaders to have an impact on the effectiveness of leadership. The theory proposed that the “favorability” of the circumstances is what decides how effective the task and the behavior of the person-oriented leader will be. Favorability is established by (1) the amount of trust and respect that devotees or rather followers have for their leaders; (2) the degree to which the responsibilities of individuals who are second to the leader can be organized and the performance measured; and (3) the power that the leader has over the rewards of followers. The circumstances is most encouraging when subordinates have trust and respect for their leaders, respect and trust the leader, the job is greatly structured, and the control over rewards and punishment is held by the leader (Barnett, 2010). Fiedler held the belief that the basic leadership style of an individual was an important factor in whether he or she succeeds at being a leader or not so for this reason he developed the “lease preferred co-worker” questionnaire (LPC) which takes a measurement of whether or nor an individual is task –oriented or relationship-oriented (Robbins, & Judge, 2009).

The questionnaire consisted of 16 differently marked “adjectives” (words that qualifies as a noun or pronoun) which included “pleasant-unpleasant,” “efficient-inefficient,” “open-guarded,” and “supportive-hostile” (Robbins, & Judge, 2009, Pg. 392). The questionnaire then asked answerers to think of everyone that they have ever worked with and out of those choose one that they enjoyed working with the least by rating them on a scale of 1 to 8. Respondents were asked to do this for each of the 16 differently marked adjectives. Fiedler supposed that based on the answers he would be able to establish the basic leadership style of the individual. If a high score was given to the least preferred coworker then Fiedler concluded that that individual is mainly has an interest in “good personal relations with his coworkers,” and if the individual received a low score then he concluded that the then individual could be considered or labeled “task-oriented” and someone who’s main interest is in “productivity” (Robbins, & Judge, 2009). The research done by Fiedler showed that leaders who were task-oriented were more valuable and effective when there was either an extremely “favorable” or extremely “unfavorable” circumstance, however, leaders who were person-oriented were more valuable if the circumstances were either “moderately favorable,” or unfavorable.” This hypothesis did not really suggest that in various situations, the leader could become accustomed to their leadership styles, but rather that leaders who had various styles would be more valuable when they are put in situations that go with the leadership style that they prefer (Barnett, 2010).

Fiedler is of the assumption that the leadership style of an individual is “fixed” because if the circumstance has a need for someone who is task-oriented but the person who is in that leadership position is relationship-oriented, then either the leader has to be changed or the situation needs to be altered (Robbins, & Judge, 2009, pg. 292-293). Following the assessment of the basic leadership style via the lease preferred co-worker (LPC) questionnaire, Fiedler recognized three possible dimensions that, according to his argument, describe the main situational factors that establish the effectiveness of leadership (Robbins & Judge, 2009). These three factors include the following: Leader-member relations: The extent to which the followers trust and like the leader, and the readiness and eagerness of the followers to be guided by the follower. Task structure: The extent to which the followers job has been portrayed as either organized or disorganized; and Position power: The leaders power by virtue of the position in the organization and the extent to which, as the leader, he or she can implement power on followers so that they obey and receive the leaders’ guidance and leadership (“Fiedler’s contingency model,” 2009). Fiedler’s position is that leader-member relations are either “good or poor, task structure is either high or low and position power is either strong or week.” The healthier the relationship between the leader and followers the more organized the job will be and the more resilient the position of power the more command the leader will have (Robbins, & Judge, 2009). Fiedler has recently reinterpreted his first hypothesis which he called Cognitive Resource Theory.

With this theory he places emphasis on the role that stress plays in “situational unfavorableness” and how the brain power and know how of the leader effect the way that he or she reacts to stress. The real meaning of this hypothesis us that stress is the adversary of reasonableness, and it is hard for leaders, among others, to think rational and be able to analyze situations when they are under stress. Fiedler et al noted that the rational ableness of a leader correlate in a positive manner and their performance is better when they are dealing with low stress situations than when they are dealing with high stress; so the whether the intellect and know how of an individual has any bearing on the performance of leadership is determined by the level of stress. Other studies corroborated the fact that when the level of stress is low and the leader instructed followers on what he needed done, intellect was key to the effectiveness of the leader, but if the circumstance was a high stress one then intellect did not help as much because the leaders’ thought process was strained.

In the same manner, if the leader does not tell his followers what he wants done then intellect do not help because of his reluctance (Robbins, & Judge, 2009). The recommendation of Fiedler is that organizations employ and choose persons with the essential intellect, know how, and understanding, and then allow those individuals to work under those situations that let them use the resources that they have cognitively. Additionally, the feeling that the leader has of being in control of the circumstance and the level of stress that he is experiencing is essential (Carter, III, 2006). What type of leader characteristic (more intelligent vs. more experienced) is most suited for high-stress incidents? What type of leader (more intelligent vs. more experienced) is best suited for low-stress planned incidents? When giving your answers provide a detailed example of a police leadership position that would fit the leadership style of more intelligent and more experienced.

The leader characteristic most suited for high-stress incidents is more experienced. Fiedler’s Cognitive Resource Theory proposes the significance of situational stress and intellect in identifying with the effectiveness of leadership. Stress makes it hard for individuals to think in a logical manner. As a result, if a situation continues to get more and more stressful then subordinates functioning and judgment will worsen and breakdown. This hypothesis predicts that individuals or groups led by leaders who are smart will function better under situations that are low stressed, and individuals or groups that are led by average leaders will function better in situations that are high stress. While this assumption might seem to argue against perceptiveness, there is a rational justification: Infertile, canned, pre –arranged, secure, or labeled resolutions have a tendency to work out better when the situations are stressful, because they do not rely on either the leaders or followers reasoning, brain power, and inventiveness to work correctly. Meanwhile, when there is an availability of time and resources more artistic solutions are likely to produce a more favorable end result. In essence, an experienced leader must be able to think quickly and critically while being able to make snap decisions at a moments notice. Understand that this hypothesis is not proposing that intellectual leadership is not an important factor in the well being of the company! It is only proposing that times that are stressful are not the most excellent times for the artistic solving of problems.

The efficiency of groups can be best maintained when there are stressful situations by generating and carrying out schedules which can be followed by employees as much as possible. The key point here is that intellectual decision making have a tendency to worsen under stress (Mills, 1995). The leadership style that I think would suit the leadership style of more experienced is that of a Swat Team Leader. According to Fiedler, individuals or groups that are led by average leaders will function better in situations that are high stress. If for instance there is a hostage situation which in its own right is a very stressful situation because it takes hours of trying to talk down the hostage taker, and the swat leader makes a decision to enter the premises where the hostage taker and hostages are housed, it takes a lot of courage to go through a door knowing that the offender is on the other side waiting to kill you. Sometimes if the hostage taker refuses to talk to authorities they will be unaware of the number of hostage takers inside and also if there are any weapons inside it is hard to say how many and what kind. The leader most suited for low stressed planned incidents is more intelligent. Fiedler’s theory states that if followers are led by and individual who is smart then they will function better under low stressed circumstances because functioning and judgment will be better as individuals will then have the opportunity to think reasonably and rationally while making sense of the situation that may have presented itself.

Fiedler noted that experience weakens functioning in situations that are low stressed. However, it plays a role in situations that are high stressed (Mills, 1995). The position that comes to mind when I think about the more intelligent leader is that of a crime scene investigator. Crime scene investigator’s investigate and solves crimes. They spend time developing a hypothesis about what happened, when it happened, why it happened, and who did it. They seek to analyze information found at the crime scene and other information given to them in terms of witnesses and confidential informants. I think that the most stressful times of this type of job could come with things like when investigators have to work on a case for long hours or when one has to go to court and testify as an expert witness, or when there is a lack of evidence, other than that I would have to say that the standard level of stress for this position is low. According to Fiedler, stress makes it difficult for individuals to think in a logical manner, so if investigators are constantly under stress then they will not be able to think clearly while making sense of bits and pieces of information to solve crimes. Next, in your own words, define, discuss, and provide a scenario in a CJ organization of Transactional Leadership, Transformational Leadership, and Visionary Leadership.

Transactional leadership is when individuals do work only because there is something in it for them, like a reward and no other reason, so the main focus of transactional leadership is to plan jobs and reward construction. With this type of leadership it does not really allow leaders and employees to build a relationship neither does it allow for an environment where people are motivated and want to work long term because as soon as there is no more rewards then the motivation to do the work is also gone. Many organizations use transactional leadership every day in order to get work done. When transactional leaders set goals for their teams he or she also promises a reward for completing these goals and it is also up to the leader to boost employees one the work is completed in a successful manner. For example, may people in criminal justice organizations may simply be working for a paycheck, and remain totally “hands-off” until a lack of production threatens their pay check. Another example would be that the leader may say that rewards (like monetary) will be given for perfect attendance, and or working overtime. This will motivate employees to come to work more, work extra hours, often and take less time off in terms of personal and sick days.

Transformational leadership is when the leaders are highly motivated and they are also trusted by the employees and other management personnel alike. A leader who uses this type of leadership style is someone who establishes goals that are clear and precise, supports, inspires, and encourages employees, helps individuals to realize that it is not about them because there is no “I” in team, but that it is about the group as a whole, has the expectation that his team must do their best, notices when a job is well done and also recognizes the individual that put out good work, and also, if the leader has a vision he clearly relates this to the team members. Transformational leaders are proactive rather than reactive. For example, a charismatic leader in a criminal justice organization may act as a role model and inspire co-investigators and other law implementers to live up to their highest standards and then go beyond those standards not only for the benefit of the organization but also towards social well being and peace keeping. Another example is if there are individual police officers who want a change in the amount of hours that they work on any given day or in any week. In spite of evidence that longer work hours might be harmful to citizen safety because officers are burnt out and tired, the transformational leader will have a discussion with officers about citizen safety and employee exhaustion and then look to develop scheduling and policies on work hours that would ultimately put the safety of citizens first and then reply to the scheduling needs of individuals inside that concept.

Because there was a sharing of knowledge, this could have a transforming effect on both management and staff alike while leading to lower employee turnover. Visionary leadership amplifies competence because it the responsibility of decision making to the forefront. In order to make the responsibility at the frontline effective, the visionary leader has to allow employees to build excellent decision making skills while trusting them in the process. A visionary leader recognizes opportunities of challenges and growth even prior to it happening and places people in positions that will allow them to turn out astonishing outcomes. Visionary leaders places emphasis on tomorrow and comprise greatness. An example would be that the leader notices that there are certain officers who work hard, is interested in learning new things, comes to work every day, and does whatever work is appointed to them while going well beyond the scope of what they are given. The visionary leader may push these officers to do more giving them extra tasks and allowing them to make decisions, and if a mistake is made, correct these mistakes, while excelling at these given tasks. This could lead to job promotion, pay increases, and higher job satisfaction.


Barnett, T. (2010). Leadership theories and studies. Retrieved from


Robbins, S.P., & Judge, T. A. (2009). Organizational behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ:

Pearson Education, Inc.

Feidler’s contingency model. (2009). Retrieved from


Carter, III, J. J. (2006, August). Stepping out of the shadow: the leadership qualities of successors

in family business. Retrieved from Mills, H. (1995). Leading by contingency: the key to supervisory styles. Retrieved from

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