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Comparing Two Leadership Theories Essay

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There are different leadership theories developed throughout the history. Most popular ones are trait theories, behavioral theories, contingency theories, and leader-member exchange (LMX) theory. The author of the post will briefly discuss two theories, Fiedler contingency theory and Leader-Member Exchange (LMX), and compare and contrast their strengths and weakness.

Fiedler’ model is considered the first highly visible theory to present the contingency approach. It stated that effective groups depend on a proper match between a leader’s style of interacting with subordinates and the degree to which the situation gives control and influence to the leader (Fiedler, 1967). Fiedler argued that the leadership style could be indentified by
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The role of the follower and the quality of the relationship itself are informally negotiated between followers and their leaders over time (Gils, Quaquebeke, & Knippenberg, 2009). Based on the LMX theory, leaders build a special relationship with an inner circle, or “in-group”, of followers, who often get high levels of responsibility and access to resources. The in-group members work harder and are more committed to task objectives. They are also expected to be totally committed and loyal to their leader. Conversely, other followers fall in the “out-group" and are given low levels of choice or influence. Aggression, sarcasm and a self-centered view are qualities seen in the out-group. The quality of the LMX relationship varies and is better when the challenge of the job is extremely high or extremely low (Graen et al., 1982).

Both Fiedler’ model and LMX theory have strength and weakness. Fiedler’ model emphasizes the importance of both situation and leader’s characteristics in determining leader effectiveness. It stimulates a great deal of research and inspires the formulation of alternative contingency theory. On the weak side, the Fiedler model sometimes fails to reflect the personality traits that it intends to reflect. It has also gained criticism because of its implications on replacing the leader as the only way to solve the mismatch between leader orientation and unfavorable situation. The method of measuring
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