Fred Fiedler

Fred Fiedler - Toolshero

Fred Fiedler (July 13, 1922 – June 8, 2017) was of Austrian descent, Emeritus Professor and one of the leading researchers in the field of leadership and organizational performance. Fred Fiedler was the founder of the contingency theory that shows the relationship (contingency) between leadership effectiveness and situational circumstances.

Biography Fred Fiedler

In 1938, at the age of 16, Fiedler emigrated from Austria (Vienna) to the United States. He studied at the University of Chicago. Fiedler first obtained his Master’s Degree (MSc.) in psychology and later he obtained his doctorate (Ph.D.) within the field of clinical psychology.

At the end of the 1940s Fiedler embarked on a study into leadership and he studied behaviour and personal characteristics in particular. He began with a study of the leadership of high school basketball teams. This led to his development of the Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) score.

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Fiedler continued to study various areas of activity in the field of effective leadership. The results of these years of study can be found in the ground breaking book Theory of Leadership Effectiveness, which was published in 1967.

This was the first leadership theory to predict and measure the interaction between a leader’s personality and their situational control as a predictor of their leadership performance. Fiedler established that this success was dependent on the effective interaction of the leader’s characteristics and the situational circumstances that needed to be managed. This theory is still used today in studies into effective leadership.

Fred Fiedler is especially characterized as a prolific researcher, thinker and writer and he has received numerous awards for his achievements and contributions to economics and science.

In personal circles, he was also known by his daughters as “The man who napped”, because to them he was. He even had a special chair for 20 years to do these naps.

Famous quote by Fred Fiedler

  1. “The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization.”

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Publications and books

  • 1994. Leadership Experience and Leadership Performance, Alexandria, VA: US Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences.
  • 1993. Stress, Babble, and the Utilization of the Leader’s Intellectual Abilities, Leadership Quarterly 4(2): 189–208.
  • 1992. Life in a Pretzel-shaped Universe, in A.G. Bedeian (ed.), Management Laureates: A Collection of Autobiographical Essays, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, vol. 1, 301–34.
  • 1987. New Approaches to Leadership, Cognitive Resources and Organizational Performance. John Wiley and Sons.
  • 1986. People Management and Productivity. Allyn and Bacon.
  • 1981. Leader Attitudes and Group Effectiveness, Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  • 1976. Improving Leadership Effectiveness: The Leader Match Concept. John Wiley and Sons.
  • 1974. Leadership and Effective Management. Scott, Foresman and Co.
  • 1971. Leadership. General Learning Press.
  • 1967. A Theory of Leadership Effectiveness, New York: McGraw-Hill
  • 1959. Boards, Management and Company Success. Interstate Publishers.
  • 1958. Leader Attitudes and Group Effectiveness. University of Illinois Press.

How to cite this article:
Van Vliet, V. (2013). Fred Fiedler. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero:

Published on: 12/07/2013 | Last update: 07/01/2022

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Vincent van Vliet
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Vincent van Vliet

Vincent van Vliet is co-founder and responsible for the content and release management. Together with the team Vincent sets the strategy and manages the content planning, go-to-market, customer experience and corporate development aspects of the company.

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