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The contingency theory of leadership examines, “a leader’s effectiveness is contingent upon with how his or her leadership style matches to the situation.” The contingency theory is still applicable today in the success of a leader’s effectiveness. Trait theory plays a vital part in the contingency model, task structure, and role interdependence are two closely associated traits that determine the effectiveness of a leader. In the contingency, approach leaders are effective when they make clear to employees the task employees are to perform. Job duties, job descriptions, and policies and procedures are also made clear. In today’s 21st century of leadership, task-oriented and relationship-oriented leadership is a vital behavioral approach that is successful in the contingency model approach. Yukl (2013), states, “The leadership attributes used as independent variables were usually described in terms of broad meta-categories (e.g., task and relations behavior). (p.162). It is not as important how the leader manages a situation but instead, how the leader’s style of managing is aligned with the culture of the organization. The dependent variable of matching a leader’s style to the right situation can be witnessed in the hiring of NFL coaches who team owners look to match coaches with players that are young as opposed to veteran players.

If yes, when is it appropriate?

Fiedler’s contingency model has is appropriate when a leader’s behaviors are examined prior to coming into a culture and a determination is made whether that leader is fit for the culture. In the NFL, according to Zaccaro et al. (2001), “The new economy pleads for superior leadership talent and places it under a spotlight. Global competition, the capital markets, and the news media make a senior executive’s performance a high-profile affair.” (p. 306). Leaders are expected to produce results, and in producing results, leaders must engage employees to buy into their vision and think strategically and implement strategic task-oriented results. It does not bode well for any organization to recruit a leader and make a selection without having known of its effectiveness in transforming organizational cultures.


da Cruz, M. R. P., Nunes, A. J. S., & Pinheiro, P. G. (2011). Fiedler’s Contingency Theory: Practical Application of the Least Preferred Coworker (LPC) Scale. IUP Journal of Organizational Behavior, 10(4), 7–26. Retrieved from….

Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.