The Eight Major Theories of Leadership

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Eight Major Theories of Leadership


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The Eight Major Theories of Leadership (Input of About Psychology) :

An Initiative of Shivnandani Industries Pvt Ltd & Jagdamb Janaki Nawal Janaki Society By Col Mukteshwar Prasad( Retd ), M Tech,CE (I),FIE(I), FIETE,FISLE,FInstOD,AMCSI The Eight Major Theories of Leadership (Input of About Psychology)


Introduction What exactly makes a great leader? Do certain personality traits make people better-suited to leadership roles, or do characteristics of the situation make it more likely that certain people will take charge? When we look at the leaders around us – be it our employer or the President – we might find ourselves wondering exactly why these individuals excel in such positions . People have long been interested in leadership throughout human history, but it has only been relatively recently that a number of formal leadership theories have emerged. Interest in leadership increased during the early part of the twentieth century. Early leadership theories focused on what qualities distinguished between leaders and followers, while subsequent theories looked at other variables such as situational factors and skill levels. While many different leadership theories have emerged, most can be classified as one of eight major types:

1. "Great Man" Theories:

1. "Great Man" Theories Have you ever heard someone described as "born to lead?" According to this point of view, great leaders are simply born with the necessary internal characteristics such as charisma, confidence, intelligence, and social skills that make them natural-born leaders. Great man theories assume that the capacity for leadership is inherent – that great leaders are born, not made. These theories often portray great leaders as heroic, mythic and destined to rise to leadership when needed. The term "Great Man" was used because, at the time, leadership was thought of primarily as a male quality, especially in terms of military leadership.

A Brief Overview of the Great Man Theory of Leadership :

A Brief Overview of the Great Man Theory of Leadership Have you ever heard the phrase, "Great leaders are born, not made"? This quote sums up the basic tenant of the great man theory of leadership, which suggests that the capacity for leadership is inborn. According to this theory, you're either a natural born leader or you're not. The term "Great Man" was used because, at the time, leadership was thought of primarily as a male quality, especially in terms of military leadership. History of the Great Man Theory of Leadership The great man theory of leadership became popular during the 19th-century. The mythology behind some of the world's most famous leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar, Mahatma Gandhi, and Alexander the Great helped contribute to the notion that great leaders are born and not made. In many examples, it seems as if the right man for the job seems to emerge almost magically to take control of a situation and lead a group of people into safety or success.

A Brief Overview of the Great Man Theory of Leadership :

A Brief Overview of the Great Man Theory of Leadership Historian Thomas Carlyle also had a major influence on this theory of leadership, at one point stating that, "The history of the world is but the biography of great men.“ According to Carlyle, effective leaders are those gifted with divine inspiration and the right characteristics. Some of the earliest research on leadership looked at people who were already successful leaders. These individuals often included aristocratic rulers who achieved their position through birthright. Because people of a lesser social status had fewer opportunities to practice and achieve leadership roles, it contributed to the idea that leadership is an inherent ability. Even today, people often describe prominent leaders as having the right qualities or personality for the position, implying that inherent characteristics are what make these people effective leaders.

A Brief Overview of the Great Man Theory of Leadership :

A Brief Overview of the Great Man Theory of Leadership Arguments Against the Great Man Theory of Leadership Sociologist Herbert Spencer suggested that the leaders were products of the society in which they lived. In The Study of Sociology , Spencer wrote, "you must admit that the genesis of a great man depends on the long series of complex influences which has produced the race in which he appears, and the social state into which that race has slowly grown....Before he can remake his society, his society must make him."

2. Trait Theories:

2. Trait Theories Similar in some ways to Great Man theories, trait theories assume that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership. Trait theories often identify particular personality or behavioral characteristics shared by leaders. For example, traits like extraversion, self-confidence, and courage are all traits that could potentially be linked to great leaders. If particular traits are key features of leadership, then how do we explain people who possess those qualities but are not leaders? This question is one of the difficulties in using trait theories to explain leadership. There are plenty of people who possess the personality traits associated with leadership, yet many of these people never seek out positions of leadership.

The Trait Approach to Personality :

The Trait Approach to Personality If someone asked you to describe the personality of a close friend, what kind of things would you say? A few things that might spring to mind are descriptive terms such as outgoing , kind and even-tempered . All of these represent traits. What exactly does this term mean? A trait can be thought of as a relatively stable characteristic that causes individuals to behave in certain ways. The trait approach to personality is one of the major theoretical areas in the study of personality. The trait theory suggests that individual personalities are composed of these broad dispositions. Unlike many other theories of personality, such as psychoanalytic or humanistic theories , the trait approach to personality is focused on differences between individuals. The combination and interaction of various traits forms a personality that is unique to each individual. Trait theory is focused on identifying and measuring these individual personality characteristics.

The Trait Approach to Personality :

The Trait Approach to Personality Gordon Allport’s Trait Theory In 1936, psychologist Gordon Allport found that one English-language dictionary alone contained more than 4,000 words describing different personality traits. He categorized these traits into three levels: Cardinal Traits: These are traits that dominate an individual’s whole life, often to the point that the person becomes known specifically for these traits. People with such personalities often become so known for these traits that their names are often synonymous with these qualities. Consider the origin and meaning of the following descriptive terms: Freudian, Machiavellian, narcissistic, Don Juan, Christ-like, etc. Allport suggested that cardinal traits are rare and tend to develop later in life. Central Traits: These are the general characteristics that form the basic foundations of personality. These central traits, while not as dominating as cardinal traits, are the major characteristics you might use to describe another person. Terms such as intelligent , honest , shy and anxious are considered central traits. Secondary Traits: These are the traits that are sometimes related to attitudes or preferences and often appear only in certain situations or under specific circumstances. Some examples would be getting anxious when speaking to a group or impatient while waiting in line.

The Trait Approach to Personality :

The Trait Approach to Personality Raymond Cattell’s Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire Trait theorist Raymond Cattell reduced the number of main personality traits from Allport’s initial list of over 4,000 down to 171, mostly by eliminating uncommon traits and combining common characteristics. Next, Cattell rated a large sample of individuals for these 171 different traits. Then, using a statistical technique known as factor analysis, he identified closely related terms and eventually reduced his list to just 16 key personality traits . According to Cattell , these 16 traits are the source of all human personality. He also developed one of the most widely used personality assessments known as the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF).

The Trait Approach to Personality :

The Trait Approach to Personality Eysenck’s Three Dimensions of Personality British psychologist Hans Eysenck developed a model of personality based upon just three universal trails: Introversion/Extraversion: Introversion involves directing attention on inner experiences, while extraversion relates to focusing attention outward on other people and the environment. So, a person high in introversion might be quiet and reserved, while an individual high in extraversion might be sociable and outgoing. Neuroticism/Emotional Stability: This dimension of Eysenck’s trait theory is related to moodiness versus even-temperedness. Neuroticism refers to an individual’s tendency to become upset or emotional, while stability refers to the tendency to remain emotionally constant. Psychoticism : Later, after studying individuals suffering from mental illness, Eysenck added a personality dimension he called psychoticism to his trait theory. Individuals who are high on this trait tend to have difficulty dealing with reality and may be antisocial, hostile, non-empathetic and manipulative.

The Trait Approach to Personality :

The Trait Approach to Personality The Five-Factor Theory of Personality Both Cattell’s and Eysenck’s theory have been the subject of considerable research, which has led some theorists to believe that Cattell focused on too many traits, while Eysenck focused on too few. As a result, a new trait theory often referred to as the "Big Five" theory emerged. This five-factor model of personality represents five core traits that interact to form human personality. While researchers often disagree about the exact labels for each dimension, the following are described most commonly: Extraversion Agreeableness Conscientiousness Neuroticism Openness

The Trait Approach to Personality :

The Trait Approach to Personality Assessing the Trait Approach to Personality While most agree that people can be described based upon their personality traits, theorists continue to debate the number of basic traits that make up human personality. While trait theory has objectivity that some personality theories lack (such as Freud’s psychoanalytic theory), it also has weaknesses. Some of the most common criticisms of trait theory center on the fact that traits are often poor predictors of behavior. While an individual may score high on assessments of a specific trait, he or she may not always behave that way in every situation. Another problem is that trait theories do not address how or why individual differences in personality develop or emerge.

3. Contingency Theories:

3. Contingency Theories Contingency theories of leadership focus on particular variables related to the environment that might determine which particular style of leadership is best suited for the situation. According to this theory, no leadership style is best in all situations. Success depends upon a number of variables, including the leadership style, qualities of the followers and aspects of the situation.

4. Situational Theories:

4. Situational Theories Situational theories propose that leaders choose the best course of action based upon situational variables. Different styles of leadership may be more appropriate for certain types of decision-making. For example, in a situation where the leader is the most knowledgeable and experienced member of a group, an authoritarian style might be most appropriate. In other instances where group members are skilled experts, a democratic style would be more effective.

5. Behavioral Theories:

5. Behavioral Theories Behavioral theories of leadership are based upon the belief that great leaders are made, not born. Consider it the flip-side of the Great Man theories. Rooted in behaviorism , this leadership theory focuses on the actions of leaders not on mental qualities or internal states. According to this theory, people can learn to become leaders through teaching and observation.

6. Participative Theories:

6. Participative Theories Participative leadership theories suggest that the ideal leadership style is one that takes the input of others into account. These leaders encourage participation and contributions from group members and help group members feel more relevant and committed to the decision-making process. In participative theories, however, the leader retains the right to allow the input of others.

7. Management Theories:

7. Management Theories Management theories, also known as transactional theories , focus on the role of supervision, organization and group performance. These theories base leadership on a system of rewards and punishments. Managerial theories are often used in business; when employees are successful, they are rewarded; when they fail, they are reprimanded or punished.

What Is Transactional Leadership? :

What Is Transactional Leadership? Transactional leadership, also known as managerial leadership, focuses on the role of supervision, organization and group performance. This theory of leadership was first described in by sociologist Max Weber, and further explored by Bernard M. Bass in the early 1980s. Basic Assumptions of Transactional Leadership People perform their best when the chain of command is definite and clear. Workers are motivated by rewards and punishments. Obeying the instructions and commands of the leader is the primary goal of the followers. Subordinates need to be carefully monitored to ensure that expectations are met. This theory bases leadership on a system of rewards and punishments. Transactional leadership is often used in business; when employees are successful, they are rewarded; when they fail, they are reprimanded or punished.

What Is Transactional Leadership? :

What Is Transactional Leadership? How Transactional Leadership Works In transactional leadership, rewards and punishments are contingent upon the performance of the followers. The leader views the relationship between managers and subordinates as an exchange - you give me something for something in return. When subordinates perform well, they receive some type of reward. When they perform poorly, they will be punished in some way. Rules, procedures and standards are essential in transactional leadership. Followers are not encouraged to be creative or to find new solutions to problems. Research has found that transactional leadership tends to be most effective in situations where problems are simple and clearly-defined. While transactional leadership can be effective in some situations, it is generally considered an insufficient and may prevent both leaders and followers from achieving their full potential.

8. Relationship Theories:

8. Relationship Theories Relationship theories, also known as transformational theories, focus upon the connections formed between leaders and followers. Transformational leaders motivate and inspire people by helping group members see the importance and higher good of the task. These leaders are focused on the performance of group members, but also want each person to fulfill his or her potential. Leaders with this style often have high ethical and moral standards.

How Transformational Leadership Inspire? :

How Transformational Leadership Inspire? Have you ever been in a group where someone took control of the situation by conveying a clear vision of the group's goals, a marked passion for the work, and an ability to make the rest of the group feel recharged and energized? This person just might be what is called a transformational leader. Transformational leadership is a type of leadership style that can inspire positive changes in those who follow. Transformational leaders are generally energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate. Not only are these leaders concerned and involved in the process; they are also focused on helping every member of the group succeed as well.

How Transformational Leadership Inspire? :

How Transformational Leadership Inspire? The History of Transformational Leadership The concept of transformational leadership was initially introduced by leadership expert and presidential biographer James MacGregor Burns. According to Burns, transformational leadership can be seen when "leaders and followers make each other to advance to a higher level of moral and motivation." Through the strength of their vision and personality, transformational leaders are able to inspire followers to change expectations, perceptions, and motivations to work towards common goals. Later, researcher Bernard M. Bass expanded upon Burns' original ideas to develop what is today referred to as Bass’ Transformational Leadership Theory. According to Bass, transformational leadership can be defined based on the impact that it has on followers. Transformational leaders, Bass suggested, garner trust, respect, and admiration from their followers.

How Transformational Leadership Inspire? :

How Transformational Leadership Inspire? The Components of Transformational Leadership Bass also suggested that there were four different components of transformational leadership. Intellectual Stimulation – Transformational leaders not only challenge the status quo; they also encourage creativity among followers. The leader encourages followers to explore new ways of doing things and new opportunities to learn. Individualized Consideration – Transformational leadership also involves offering support and encouragement to individual followers. In order to foster supportive relationships, transformational leaders keep lines of communication open so that followers feel free to share ideas and so that leaders can offer direct recognition of the unique contributions of each follower. Inspirational Motivation – Transformational leaders have a clear vision that they are able to articulate to followers. These leaders are also able to help followers experience the same passion and motivation to fulfill these goals. Idealized Influence – The transformational leader serve as a role model for followers. Because followers trust and respect the leader, they emulate this individual and internalize his or her ideals.

How Transformational Leadership Inspire? :

How Transformational Leadership Inspire? Observations In their classic text, Transformational Leadership , authors Bass and Riggio explained: "Transformational leaders...are those who stimulate and inspire followers to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their own leadership capacity. Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers' needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization." Researchers have found that this style of leadership can have a positive effect on the group. "Research evidence clearly shows that groups led by transformational leaders have higher levels of performance and satisfaction than groups led by other types of leaders," explained psychologist and leadership expert Ronald E. Riggio in an article appearing on the Psychology Today website. The reason, he suggests, is that transformational leaders believe that their followers can do their best, leading members of the group to feel inspired and empowered.

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