Leadership theories depend on the qualities that a leader inherits or displays in managing her/his team. Some of the theories of leadership are:
The trait theories of leadership consider personal qualities and characteristics that differentiate leaders from non-leaders. The great man theory was originally proposed by Thomas Carlyle in 1949 and the assumption behind this theory is that “great leaders will arise, when there is great need”. The assumption behind trait theory was that “leaders are born and not made”.
Behavioural theories assume that specific behavioural patterns of leaders can be acquired through learning and experience.The behavioural theories concentrate on “what the leaders do”.
The study on behavioural theories was made by Ohio State University in 1945 by E.A. Fleishman, E.F. Harris and H.E. Burtt. It is also known as “two-factor conceptualization”.It narrowed the leadership behaviours into two categories,:
Michigan Studies also identified a twofactor component namely:
The Managerial Grid theory of leadership, also known as‘Leadership Grid Theory’ was proposed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in 1964.The grid is a nine-by-nine matrix which outlines 81 different styles of leadership. The grid has 9 possible positions along each axis creating 81 different positions in which the leader’s style may fall. This theory of leadership is also based on the styles of “concern for people” and “concern for production” as depicted in grid below:
Through the Managerial Grid, 5 kinds of Leadership Style are identified as follows:
The effectiveness of leadership also depends upon situations. The success of a leader does not depend upon the qualities, traits and behaviour of a leader alone because same style of functioning may not be suitable for different situations. The situational theory views leadership in terms of a dynamic interaction between a number of situational variables like the leader, the followers, the task situation, the environment, etc.
Some of the important theories on situational context are:
This theory is developed by Fred Fiedler in 1967. The basic premise behind this theory is that, effective performance of an organization or a group of people in an organization highly depend upon the style adopted by a leader and the degree to which a situation gives control to the leader.
Fiedler developed a “Least-Preferred Coworker” (LPC) scale, in which the leaders were asked to give their preference on the employee with whom they have least preference to work with.
Fiedler has identified three situational factors:
Fiedler model identifies 8 different kinds of situations or categories in which a leader can identify her/his position:
Fiedler states that a task oriented leader performs better in situations that are very favourable to him and in situations that are very unfavourable. Thus when faced with a Category I, II, III, VII or VIII situation, task-oriented leaders perform better. Relationship-oriented leaders perform better in moderately favourable situations – categories IV through VII
One of the major drawbacks in Fiedler model is that the style adopted by a particular leader is fixed.
Cognitive Resource Theory was conceptualized by Fiedler and his associate Joe Garcia in 1990. This theory assumes that stress is the enemy of rationality and a leader cannot think in a logical and analytical manner, if she/he is under high level of stress. The importance of a leader’s intelligence and experience to effectiveness differs under low and high stress situations. A leader’s intellectual ability correlates positively with performance under low stress but negatively under high stress. On the other hand, a leader’s experience correlates negatively with performance under low stress but positively under high stress. Therefore, the level of stress in a situation, determines whether an individual’s intelligence or experience will contribute to leadership performance.
Situational Leadership Theory (SLT) was put forward by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. In this theory the focus is laid on the followers and the readiness that followers show in accepting a leadership. The theory assumes that it is the followers who accept or reject a leader and thus, effectiveness of a leader also depends on their followers. By readiness the meaning is the extent to which people have the ability and willingness to accomplish a specific task set by the leader.
According to this theory, there are four types of leadership behaviors:
The Leader-Member Exchange theory assumes that a leader cannot use a fairly homogenous style with all of the people in their work unit and a leader act differently with different people and tend to have her/his “in-group”.
In general, followers in the in-group status will have higher performance ratings, lower turnover intentions, greater satisfaction with their superior, and higher overall satisfaction than the out-group
The Path-Goal Theory was developed by Martin Evans and Robert House in 1970-71. The basic idea behind the theory is that effective leaders clarify the path to help their followers to move forward from their current position towards achieving the work goals. It is the leader’s job to provide the followers with the information, support and other resources, necessary for them to achieve their goals.
Path-Goal theory defines four types of leadership behavior:
The Leader-Participation Model was developed by Victor Vroom and Phillip Yetton in 1973. According to this model, the three set of variables affect the performance of the leader in terms of his capacity as a decision maker, which include:
Based on these variables identified, the theory defined 5 different kinds of decision making procedures:
The transactional theory of leadership was first discussed by Max Weber in 1947 and was later developed by Bernard M Bass in 1981. Under this theory, the leaders guide or motivate their followers in the direction of established goals by clarifying role and task requirements.
Assumptions that underlie the transactional theory are:
The characteristic features exhibited by transactional leaders are as follows:
The transformational theory of leadership is given by Bass and Riggio. According to this theory, the leader inspires her/his followers to transcend their own self-interests for the betterment of the organization. Transformational leaders pay attention to the developmental needs and concerns of the followers, and inspire followers to give a new outlook for the old problems and thus motivate the followers towards achievement of the goals of the organization by giving them new perspective.
There are four dimensions to the transformational theory of leadership:
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