Contingency Theory…Organizational effectiveness?

From week of 6/10 –

Today, Tuesday, June 12, 2019, my supervisor and I had a conversation about roles, workplace culture, and relationships over lunch. Our conversation led me to think about the Contingency Theory. In my Theories class with Dr. von Rueden, we talked a lot about how followership is largely misunderstood. Personally, the narrative I was taught from a young age was never to be a follower. My Jepson leadership courses, complemented by leadership discourse has deconstructed that narrative.

In many of my courses, we learn about how leadership styles affect contingency. Fielder’s theory suggests that in order for leaders to succeed, there must be strong leader-member relations. Being that our office is small and intimate and everyone relies on each other, it is important that VCIC’s leader-member relations are very strong. My CEO, supervisor, and co-workers, always present tasks clearly and with goals and procedures outlined, therefore fostering a trustworthy environment.

Leadership to me – is a dynamic process that cannot and should not be thought about without followers in mind. Followers are the individuals who determine if a leader can lead, therefore I think relationship-based leadership is the most important. We have frequent staff meetings, and although all staff members have their own responsibilities – everyone follows our CEO’s lead to make sure we are consistent in following the mission of VCIC. In the same token, Jonathan is flexible and allows for collaboration on all decisions he makes.

In applying this theory to my internship site and our work, I have learned that followers are proactive sense-makers whose decisions help advance leadership and unity amongst a group. In our work, we cannot advance unless there is mutual trust within the group (the office, or people we work within programs).

Relationship-based approaches are the most important because I think leaders and followers should be viewed as equals. Essentially, followers have the same characteristics and ideas of leaders, but leaders simply have a platform to bring those ideas to practice. After learning about followership, I think it is important to reconstruct the ways we perceive followers, as a leader’s power is contingent on their followers’ willingness. I think that VCIC is so effective because Jonathan is very aware of these theories and uses them to inform his leadership within our organization and within the community.

One thought on “Contingency Theory…Organizational effectiveness?

  • July 11, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Indeed, I would imagine that discourse about these matters is definitely present at VCIC given Jonathan’s background at Jepson. You’re touched on some elements of contingency theory (leader/member relations and task structure, though you don’t explicitly call it task structure). I guess to some extent you do also address the third element (position power) – though not explicitly – by acknowledging that everyone follows Jonathan’s lead. But thinking ahead to the paper you’ll write this fall, in which you’ll be asked to take a deep dive into a theory of your choice, I encourage you to think about all the elements of theories explicitly and identify behaviors at your site that illustrate all of the various elements; that will assist you in writing that paper this fall.

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