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Leadership theories

a) Great Man Theory: b) Trait Theory: c) Behavioral Theory: d) Participative Leadership: e) Situational Leadership: f) Contingency Theory: g) Transactional Leadership: h)Transformational Leadership:



The various leadership theories are



a) Great Man Theory:




Leaders are born and not made.


Great leaders will arise when there is a great need.





Early research on leadership was based on the study of people who were already great leaders. These people were often from the aristocracy, as few from lower classes had the opportunity to lead. This contributed to the notion that leadership had something to do with breeding.


The idea of the Great Man also strayed into the mythic domain, with notions that in times of need, a Great Man would arise, almost by magic. This was easy to verify, by pointing to people such as Eisenhower and Churchill, let alone those further back along the timeline, even to Jesus, Moses, Mohammed and the Buddah.




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.


b) Trait Theory:




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.




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.


Admitting error: Owning up to mistakes, rather than putting energy into covering up.


Good interpersonal skills: able to communicate and persuade others without resort to negative or coercive tactics.


Intellectual breadth: Able to understand a wide range of areas, rather than having a narrow (and narrow-minded) area of expertise.


c) Behavioral Theory:




Leaders can be made, rather than are born.


Successful leadership is based in definable, learnable behavior.





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'.


d) Participative Leadership:




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.


People are less competitive and more collaborative when they are working on joint goals.


When people make decisions together, the social commitment to one another is greater and thus increases their commitment to the decision.


Several people deciding together make better decisions than one person alone.





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


e) Situational Leadership:




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





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, in turn, is affected by factors within the particular situation. The relationship between followers and the leader may be another factor that affects leader behavior as much as it does follower behavior.


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' behavior.


f) Contingency Theory:




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



Contingency theories are a class of behavioral 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 behaviors that the leader should adopt, given situational factors (often about follower behavior), whereas contingency theory takes a broader view that includes contingent factors about leader capability and other variables within the situation.


g) Transactional Leadership:




People are motivated by reward and punishment.


Social systems work best with a clear chain of command.


When people have agreed to do a job, a part of the deal is that they cede all authority to their manager.


The prime purpose of a subordinate is to do what their manager tells them to do.





The transactional leader works through creating clear structures whereby it is clear what is required of their subordinates, and the rewards that they get for following orders. Punishments are not always mentioned, but they are also well-understood and formal systems of discipline are usually in place.


The early stage of Transactional Leadership is in negotiating the contract whereby the subordinate is given a salary and other benefits, and the company (and by implication the subordinate's manager) gets authority over the subordinate.


When the Transactional Leader allocates work to a subordinate, they are considered to be fully responsible for it, whether or not they have the resources or capability to carry it out. When things go wrong, then the subordinate is considered to be personally at fault, and is punished for their failure (just as they are rewarded for succeeding).

h)Transformational Leadership:




People will follow a person who inspires them.


A person with vision and passion can achieve great things.


The way to get things done is by injecting enthusiasm and energy.





Working for a Transformational Leader can be a wonderful and uplifting experience. They put passion and energy into everything. They care about you and want you to succeed. Transformational Leaders are often charismatic, but are not as narcissistic as pure Charismatic Leaders, who succeed through a belief in themselves rather than a belief in others.


One of the traps of Transformational Leadership is that passion and confidence can easily be mistaken for truth and reality.


Transformational Leaders, by definition, seek to transform. When the organization does not need transforming and people are happy as they are, then such a leader will be frustrated. Like wartime leaders, however, given the right situation they come into their own and can be personally responsible for saving entire companies.


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