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Fiedler's Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) Theory


Disciplines > Leadership > Leadership theories > Fiedler's Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) Theory

Assumptions | Description | Discussion | See also



Leaders prioritize between task-focus and people-focus.

Relationships, power and task structure are the three key factors that drive effective styles.


Fiedler identified the a Least Preferred Co-Worker scoring for leaders by asking them first to think of a person with which they worked that they would like least to work with again, and then to score the person on a range of scales between positive factors (friendly, helpful, cheerful, etc.) and negative factors (unfriendly, unhelpful, gloomy, etc.). A high LPC leader generally scores the other person as positive and a low LPC leader scores them as negative.

High LPC leaders tend to have close and positive relationships and act in a supportive way, even prioritizing the relationship before the task. Low LPC leaders put the task first and will turn to relationships only when they are satisfied with how the work is going.

Three factors are then identified about the leader, member and the task, as follows:

  • Leader-Member Relations: The extent to which the leader has the support and loyalties of followers and relations with them are friendly and cooperative.
  • Task structure: The extent to which tasks are standardised, documented and controlled.
  • Leader's Position-power: The extent to which the leader has authority to assess follower performance and give reward or punishment.

The best LPC approach depends on a combination of there three. Generally, a high LPC approach is best when leader-member relations are poor, except when the task is unstructured and the leader is weak, in which a low LPC style is better.


# Leader-Member Relations Task structure Leader's Position- power Most Effective leader
1 Good Structured Strong Low LPC
2 Good Structured Weak Low LPC
3 Good Unstructured Strong Low LPC
4 Good Unstructured Weak High LPC
5 Poor Structured Strong High LPC
6 Poor Structured Weak High LPC
7 Poor Unstructured Strong High LPC
8 Poor Unstructured Weak Low LPC


This approach seeks to identify the underlying beliefs about people, in particular whether the leader sees others as positive (high LPC) or negative (low LPC). The neat trick of the model is to take someone where it would be very easy to be negative about them.

This is another approach that uses task- vs. people-focus as a major categorisation of the leader's style.

See also

Ohio State Leadership Studies, Michigan Leadership Studies

Beliefs about people, Attribution Theory, Leader-Member Exchange Theory

Fiedler, F.E. (1964). A contingency model of leadership effectiveness. In L. Berkowitz (ed), Advances in experimental social psychology, NY:
Academic press.

Fiedler, F.E. (1967). A theory of leadership effectiveness, NY: McGraw-Hill


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