Leadership Theories – 8 Major Leadership Theories By Kendra Cherry, About. com Guide See More About: •leadership •trait theories Ads Become a Great Managerwww. insead. edu/Management-ProgrammeDevelop your Management Skills with INSEAD Exec. Education. Inform Now! Sales Leadership TrainingGetSmarter. co. za/SalesManagement9-Week Online Sales Management Training Course. UCT Accredited! Emotional Intelligencewww. learninglinkafrica. com2 Day Course to Self Mastery Get leverage for self improvement Psychology Ads •Leadership Course •Leadership and Management •Leadership & Development Leadership Theories •Leadership Qualities 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: 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. Learn more about the great man theory of leadership. 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.
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. 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. . 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: Behavioral theories of leadership are based upon the belief that great leaders are made, not born.
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: 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: 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. Learn more about theories of transactional leadership. 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. Most common Leadership Types •Autocratic leadership. •Bureaucratic leadership. •Charismatic leadership. Democratic leadership or participative leadership. •Laissez-faire leadership. •People-oriented leadership or relations-oriented leadership. •Servant leadership. •Task-oriented leadership. •Transactional leadership. •Transformational leadership. Autocratic Leadership Autocratic leadership is an extreme form of transactional leadership, where a leader exerts high levels of power over his or her employees or team members. People within the team are given few opportunities for making suggestions, even if these would be in the team’s or organization? s interest.
Most people tend to resent being treated like this. Because of this, autocratic leadership usually leads to high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover. Also, the team’s output does not benefit from the creativity and experience of all team members, so many of the benefits of teamwork are lost. For some routine and unskilled jobs, however, this style can remain effective where the advantages of control outweigh the disadvantages. Learn more… Bureaucratic Leadership Bureaucratic leaders work ? by the book? , ensuring that their staff follow procedures exactly.
This is a very appropriate style for work involving serious safety risks (such as working with machinery, with toxic substances or at heights) or where large sums of money are involved (such as cash-handling). In other situations, the inflexibility and high levels of control exerted can demoralize staff, and can diminish the organizations ability to react to changing external circumstances. Learn more… Charismatic Leadership A charismatic leadership style can appear similar to a transformational leadership style, in that the leader injects huge doses of enthusiasm into his or her team, and is very energetic in driving others forward.
However, a charismatic leader can tend to believe more in him or herself than in their team. This can create a risk that a project, or even an entire organization, might collapse if the leader were to leave: In the eyes of their followers, success is tied up with the presence of the charismatic leader. As such, charismatic leadership carries great responsibility, and needs long-term commitment from the leader. Democratic Leadership or Participative Leadership Although a democratic leader will make the final decision, he or she invites other members of the team to contribute to the decision-making process.
This not only increases job satisfaction by involving employees or team members in what? s going on, but it also helps to develop people? s skills. Employees and team members feel in control of their own destiny, and so are motivated to work hard by more than just a financial reward. As participation takes time, this style can lead to things happening more slowly than an autocratic approach, but often the end result is better. It can be most suitable where team working is essential, and quality is more important than speed to market or productivity. Learn more… Laissez-Faire Leadership