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Chapter: Principles of Management : Directing

Leadership Theories

The various leadership theories are

Leadership Theories

The various leadership theories are

 

1 Great Man Theory:

 

Assumptions

Leaders are born and not made.

Great leaders will arise when there is a great need.

 

 

Description

 

Gender issues were not on the table when the 'Great Man' theory was proposed. Most leaders were male and the thought of a Great Woman was generally in areas other than leadership. Most researchers were also male, and concerns about androcentric bias were a long way from being realized.

 

2 Trait Theory:

Assumptions

People are born with inherited traits.

 

Some traits are particularly suited to leadership.

People who make good leaders have the right (or sufficient) combination of traits.

 

Description

 

Early research on leadership was based on the psychological focus of the day, which was of people having inherited characteristics or traits. Attention was thus put on discovering these traits, often by studying successful leaders, but with the underlying assumption that if other people could also be found with these traits, then they, too, could also become great leaders. McCall and Lombardo (1983) researched both success and failure identified four primary traits by which leaders could succeed or 'derail': Emotional stability and composure: Calm, confident and predictable, particularly when under stress.

 

3 Behavioral Theory:

Assumptions

Leaders can be made, rather than are born.

Successful leadership is based in definable, learnable behavior.

 

Description

 

Behavioral theories of leadership do not seek inborn traits or capabilities. Rather, they look at what leaders actually do. If success can be defined in terms of describable actions, then it should be relatively easy for other people to act in the same way. This is easier to teach and learn then to adopt the more ephemeral 'traits' or 'capabilities'.

 

4 Participative Leadership:

Assumptions

• Involvement in decision-making improves the understanding of the issues involved by those who must carry out the decisions.

• People are more committed to actions where they have involved in the relevant decision making.

Description

 

A Participative Leader, rather than taking autocratic decisions, seeks to involve other people in the process, possibly including subordinates, peers, superiors and other stakeholders. Often, however, as it is within the managers' whim to give or deny control to his or her subordinates, most participative activity is within the immediate team. The question of how much influence others are given thus may vary on the manager's preferences and beliefs, and a whole spectrum of participation is possible.

 

5 Situational Leadership:

 

Assumptions

• The best action of the leader depends on a range of situational factors.

 

Description

 

When a decision is needed, an effective leader does not just fall into a single preferred style. In practice, as they say, things are not that simple.Factors that affect situational decisions include motivation and capability of followers. This, inturn, is affected by factors within the particular situation. The relationship between followers and the leader may be another factor that affects leader behaviour as much as it does follower behaviour. The leaders' perception of the follower and the situation will affect what they do rather than the truth of the situation. The leader's perception of themselves and other factors such as stress and mood will also modify the leaders' behaviour.

 

6 Contingency Theory:

Assumptions

• The leader's ability to lead is contingent upon various situational factors, including the leader's preferred style, the capabilities and behaviours of followers and also various other situational factors.

 

Description

 

Contingency theories are a class of behavioural theory that contend that there is no one best way of leading and that a leadership style that is effective in some situations may not be successful in others. An effect of this is that leaders who are very effective at one place and time may become unsuccessful either when transplanted to another situation or when the factors around them change.

 

Contingency theory is similar to situational theory in that there is an assumption of no simple one right way. The main difference is that situational theory tends to focus more on the behaviours that the leader should adopt, given situational factors (often about follower behaviour), whereas contingency theory takes a broader view that includes contingent factors about leader capability and other variables within the situation.


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