MANAGEMENT is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; LEADERSHIP determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall - Stephen Covey

Monday, April 10, 2006

Contingency Theory – Myth or reality?

We all know what contingency theory (at least in theory!) actually means – THERE IS NO ONE BEST WAY OF ORGANIZING / LEADING A CORPORATION. Agreed. This is absolute common-sense (You don’t need to be a rocket-scientist to know this!).

Ofcourse, when things are dynamic YOU DO NOT NEED a static managerial / leadership style to manage things. You need to have / instill a dynamic leadership / managerial style to handle such pulsating moments inorder to take your organization through the next BIG GROWTH PATH (do I actually sound like a B-School professor?)…but why is it that many leaders (CEOs, CFOs, SVPs, VPs, SBU Heads et al) are extremely comfortable (sometimes even restful!) with their *present* leadership style or the way they manage things and why do they not want to change (for the better, ofcourse!)?

I guess the answer is very simple – LIMITED LEADERSHIP – which means leaders are too comfortable with their existing style (a.k.a. leadership philosophy) and are petrified to change / accept change. Period.

Well, I ask all you noble-beings one question…If you are scared stiff to accept change, why the heck are you a leader? I guess you have been made a leader by chance than by choice!

Contingency theory is NOT any cookie-cutter solution to leadership. It’s NOT a one-size-fits-all answer to all problems BUT it can help: -

1) Identify constraints under the present leadership style
2) Chart ways & means of managing / countering those constraints (infact, in some occasions, convert constraints to your favor!)
3) Organizations to evolve new (better!) leadership styles inorder to manage contingent / non-linear situations (you can’t have linear solutions to solve non-linear problems!)
4) Design organizational systems / sub-systems to handle crisis / contingency
5) Getting things done differently…remember…Great men don’t do different things; they do things differently!

So now, the choice is yours. You as a leader should be prepared and willing to lead by example in a non-linear (dynamic) way during non-linear times (I am reminded of a famous quote that goes like…”bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle”) and be open / acceptable to change (EMBRACE CHANGE!) thereby ensuring that contingency theory no longer remains a myth BUT reality.


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