Theories in Action, Week 5, August 3-7

I have found that Chemer’s Contingency Model of Leadership Effectiveness is relevant to my internship experience. The contingency model is a somewhat new paradigm in leadership that emerged in the 1960s and turned the field in a new direction. This model was introduced by Fred Fiedler (who created the Least Preferred Coworker scale) and his LPC studies presented variability in which type of leader/leadership is most effective; these findings led him to the contingency model of leadership effectiveness. Fidler argued that the ease with which a leader is able to influence their followers should make a big difference in how favorable the leadership situation is for the leader because leadership is primarily the exercise of social influence. This depends on three variables: leader-member relations, task structure, and position power.

Now, applying this theory to my experience. The campaign director, my boss, was great at developing leader-member relationships which, according to Chemer’s article, is the most important variable. Kris is very respected by all of the interns and volunteers and I think that this definitely makes him more influential to all of us. It is easy to get along with him because he is close in age to the rest of us and he makes sure to ask us about our lives beyond the office/ makes it seem as though he cares.  Also, he is in a very clear position of power, which makes him the clear authoritative figure of the office, that is, until the Congresswoman walks in.

In addition to this, I have found that Goleman’s analysis of intelligence is relevant to my experience. According to this theory, Goleman argues that a leader must be emotionally intelligent, meaning they are: self-aware, self-regulatory, motivational, empathetic, and possess social skills. From the outside looking in, it seems as though my boss is very emotionally intelligent in the sense that he appears self- confident (self-aware), is open to changes whenever I suggest them (Self-regulation), and is optimistic and encouraging to the staff (motivation).

I think that Kris’s emotional intelligence makes it easier for him to develop and maintain the leader-member relationship aforementioned in my paragraph on the contingency model of leadership.