What is the least preferred employee scale?
The least preferred co-worker scale, developed by American researcher Fred Fiedler, identifies whether an individual’s leadership style is relationship or task oriented.
The Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) scale requires a person to rate the person they would least like to work with – the least preferred co-worker – using a range of 18 to 25 bipolar adjectives (positive or negative), with scores from 1 to 8. The LPC score is then calculated by adding up all the scores. A high LPC score indicates that the individual is a relationship-oriented leader, while a low LPC score suggests a task-oriented leader.
Key points to remember
- The Least Preferred Collaboration Scale (LPC) is a management heuristic that attributes an individual’s leadership style to be task or relationship oriented.
- The scale uses a subjective assessment of an individual’s attitudes towards his least favorable colleague.
- By seeing how one reacts to the evaluation of the person with whom they would least prefer to work, the overall management style can be deduced.
How the Least Preferred Employee Scale Works
A typical set of bipolar adjectives used in the LPC scale would include pleasant or unpleasant, friendly or hostile, favorable or hostile, etc. Responses are scored from 1 for the least favorable attribute (for example, unpleasant or hostile) to 8 for the most favorable (pleasant or friendly).
The LPC scale assumes that people with a relationship-oriented leadership style tend to describe their least preferred colleagues in a more positive way, while those with a task-oriented style rate them more negatively.
Application of the scale of the least preferred collaborators
The model presented by the scale presents the notion that no single leadership style is perfect or ideal, because needs change according to circumstances and context. For example, a team of seasoned professionals who know their jobs well can be best served by a relationship-oriented leadership style. The team does not need the cumbersome approach of a less experienced team, which could include strict guidelines to ensure that the task is accomplished.
Likewise, a team of veterans may need task-oriented leadership if there is a short time frame to reach the goals or if the goals include sensitive milestones that will be difficult to achieve. If the team is made up of seasoned professionals and untrained staff, the situational needs of the goal and could mean that leadership styles may change depending on the time or the people who need advice.
The favorable nature of the situation also plays a role in the style of leadership adopted. The relationship between leaders and members is a barometer of the influence and trust that exists between the team and its leader. If this link is weak, the leader can be considered to have a weak position in this regard. This can be influenced by the leader’s position of power in the organization. The amount of power and authority a leader has to lead the team working for him can be described as strong, which means that he has clear control over his mandates. If this power is weak, they have less control over the team to ensure the action that is taken.