Studying the role of leadership management

According to Bennis and Nanus (1985, p. 20), leadership is referred as ‘the most studied and least understood topic of any in the social sciences’. There are more than 100 definitions of leadership having been identified in literature (Rost, 1991), and Stogdill (1974) even suggests that the definitions of leadership are as many as people who have ever tried to define it. However, there is neither any unanimously accepted definition of leadership, nor any consensus on the best way to train leaders (Bolden, 2004). Gallie (1955, cited in Grint, 2004, p. 1) defines leadership as, “Leadership appears to be, like power, an ‘essentially contested concept'”, whereas Bennis and Nanus (1985, p. 20) describes leadership as ‘the abominable snowman, whose footprints are everywhere but who is nowhere to be seen’. To summarise, the meaning of leadership is complex and includes many dimensions and it addresses many other key business/corporate, organisational, socio-cultural and personal processes. In modern days, it is generally popularised among commentators that charisma, inspiration, trust and consensus have been increasingly associated with leadership, but the author tends to advise they are necessary conditions for successful leadership in most situations, and there are circumstances, where other determinants are needed.

Various Schools of Thoughts about Modern-day Leadership

In 21st century the concepts of leadership and its definition are becoming more diversified according to various schools of thoughts. Peters (1993, p.19), explains the modern-day leadership as, “Crucial to the revolution now under way – so crucial that we believe the words ‘managing’ and ‘management’ should be discarded”. Drucker (1992, p.119), having a similar point as Peters, identifies modern-day leadership as, ‘Mundane, unromantic and boring. Its essence is performance’, though Bolden (2004) is not in the favour of differentiating the details of the leadership from the management. What is more, as noted in the Jack Welch’s example, General Electric Company progresses many folds in few years and the basis of this success is a candid, lucid and set guideline for a linear and prolific organization (Slater, 2003). Last but not least, Peter Scholtes’ (1998) leadership concentrates on systems thinking, and his opinions include leading by objectives, merit pay, performance appraisals, motivation, etc. According to Collinson (2005), followership is the essence of leadership, which means that modern-day leadership styles should be according to the personality and characteristics of the followers. The author understands from these different views that in the 21st century leadership styles, there is no one monotonous leading style in the organizations.

Charisma in Modern-day Leadership

Charisma is an advantage that promotes modern-day leadership performances, but it is not essential (Carpenter, 2002). Max Weber (1947) firstly defines that charisma differing leaders from ordinary people refers to special gifted magnetic charm and appeal; it gives leaders the capacity to do extraordinary things, and in particular it gives the leader exceptional powers of influence to followers. Scholars further suggest that charismatic leaders often serve as a strong role model for values that they desire others to adopt, show competence in every aspect of leadership so others trust his or her decisions, articulate clear goals and strong values, communicate high expectations for followers and show confidence in their abilities to meet those expectations (Conger, 1989; House, 1977; Shamir et al., 1993). Charismatic leaders are having deep impact on followers’ value, attitude and behavior, and it is suggested charisma is an important leadership attribute that motivates followers (Ilies et al., 2006). Leaders with charismatic personalities can get things done through attracting the subordinates to achieve the organisational goals more effectively, as people feel encouraged to be more devoted to their work, as a result of their admiration and respect to their leaders (Mortensen, 2008). Bill Clinton and Steve Jobs are both typical charismatic leaders. With overwhelming personal charm and vision, they successfully create their era. However, Ciulla (2004) suggests that basis of the leadership is ethics like earned trust not the charm. Tyler (2008) also advises people are lead because of their trust to the leaders, not charisma. Furthermore, it is generally agreed that leadership is ability and a skill which could be learnt over time and with the experience and maturity (Mumford et al., 2000); leaders are made not born, and charisma could be developed (Adair, 2005). Yet, Howell and Shamir (2005) also figure out that characteristics of followers sometimes determine the efficiency of charismatic leadership. There is no denying of the importance of charisma for the leaders in the present-day leadership styles. Charisma is the capability to project the vision and thoughts regarding what the future prospects will hold upon others to bring a positive transform or change. In the light of this discussion, author understands that charisma is increasingly associated with modern-day leadership, and with the concern of other factors like the element of trust and follower, leadership in the modern-day organisations becomes more effective.

The Inspirational Approach in Modern-day Leadership

Inspirational leaders could positively motivate and influence people to get the best out of

themselves, and accordingly pursue a far better performance of the organization (Wilson,

2010). Wilson and Rice (2004) also state that inspirational leaders are able to encourage, grow, and build up confidence of followers, through which modern organizations could benefit higher performance, even facing adversity. Robbins et al. (2010) suggest that charismatic leadership is the most common style of inspirational approach to leadership. The most striking element of the charismatic leadership is the ability to inspire astonishing performance from the followers and the team. It is also revealed that inspiration is a tactic to influence others and is associated with the research conducted by Yukl and Falbe (1990). The concept is that the leader makes a request or proposal that arouses enthusiasm by appealing to people’s values, ideals and aspirations or by increasing their confidence that they can do it. However, leaders are starting to inspire and motivate followers to perform, once trust is built up (Zeffane, 2010). Scholars claims that there are factors stimulating inspiration, like a vision, which tells followers what they are expected to achieve and which they could always hold on (Scott, 2010). Other factors include involvement of everyone (Bilchik, 2001; Wilson, 2010), and the courage to admit personal weakness (Goffee and Jones, 2000) and so forth. Yukl and Falbe (1990) also conclude that leaders are most likely to use inspirational appeal and pressure when trying to influence subordinates, rather than their boss, or colleagues. In short, people are inspired to enthusiastically perform as well as they could, and ultimately succeed in achieving better organisational performance.

Consensus and Modern-day Leadership

With more and more emphasis on democracy, modern-day leadership is being increasingly associated with the consensus element in the decision making in the business organizations. Early experiments and research of Lewin et al. (1939) indicates that people are performing better, if they have been involved in the decision-making process. They also suggest leadership style to a large degree determine the performance of the group and they have categorized leadership into three styles: authoritarian, democratic and laissez faire leadership, among which democratic leadership is generally regarded as the more effective style. Consensus plays a very important role in democratic leadership, as members are encouraged to participate in the decision-making process and involved in the final decision and the agreement (Knight et al., 1999). Hence, with the support to the decision, people are better motivated and likely to perform better that they have been expected to (Brilhart and Galanes, 1989). Moreover, consensus in leadership stimulates team cohesiveness, with which members cooperate more with each other (Sanders and Schyns, 2006). It is also stated effective strategic leaders understand the necessity to involve team members in consensus decision making (Brilhart and Galanes, 1989). Besides, Felfe and Heinitz (2010) conclude that consensus not only largely predicts members’ commitments and their satisfaction, but also enhance organisational performance and leadership. Yet, Frisch (2008) argues a team can’t make effective decisions if its members don’t trust one another or if they fail to listen to one another. Therefore, before adopting consensus decision-making process, it is important that trust has been built up among members. It should not be neglected the decision-making ability of members in consensus process, as well as the fact that there are times authoritarian leaders work more effectively, especially facing risks and opportunities, as at least authoritarian leadership is far less time-consuming (Lewin et al., 1939), and not everyone has the ability to tell and seize opportunities. Steve Jobs to some degree is an authoritarian leader, as no matter what other say and do, he insists that Apple should do its software and hardware all by itself even in such an open world day, as they know themselves best. It appears that Steve Jobs and his way is the path to the success of Apple. It would still appear consensus in modern-day leadership helps to sustain decisions, and to succeed a strategic leader needs to build the consensus.

Trust Element in Modern-day Leadership

As previously discussed, trust is shown as the basis of no matter charismatic,

consensus or inspirational leadership. The importance of trust in modern organizations is widely recognized (Clegg et al., 2002), and it is increasingly important for leaders to arouse trust and faith to motivate the followers in modern organizations (Robbins et al., 2010). Martin (1998) defines trust leadership as, “Leadership that is born and kept alive by the follower trust is trust leadership”. According to him, followers’ attitudes are created by the leaders in the modern-day organisations. This allows the followers to trust the leader and trust is at the root of the leadership. Leadership is meant very little without the trust and vice versa. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. are some of the examples from the recent history who have innate abilities to influence the followers by appealing to their values and earning the trust. These values include trust, respect, equality and freedom and are present in the modern-day followers, too. The values practiced in the past can be duplicated and practiced today and applied to the workplaces (Martin, 1998). Attitudes determine responses, so effective leaders understand that employees’ attitudes are very important in achieving goals of the company. To build the trust, leaders influence employees by tapping into their values and thus a positive behavior and attitude is encouraged in both the leader and the follower. Thus, as Matthews (2010) suggests that trust is the basis to heighten and achieve productivity and profitability in modern-day businesses in addition to aligning the organisational values with the employees’ values. Vadell (2008) also describes the trust as the leading concept in the organisational commitment, which could be exemplified by his research about United States Air Force Officers’ commitment and intention to leave the military. On the other hand, leaders’ trust in subordinates benefits themselves in delegating power to subordinates (Leana, 1986), by which subordinates would be further motivated. Likewise, Greenberg (2009) indicates innovation more than often comes from taking risks, while trust is key determinant to inspire people to take risks; for example, Google employees are trusted to have one day a week to do whatever interests them, which gives birth to innovations like Gmail. The author understands that in the modern-day organisations and leadership styles, mutual trust between leaders and subordinates helps develop the commitment among the followers and this commitment element establish the truthfulness of the charismatic leadership style.

Increasing Association of Charisma, Trust, Inspiration and Consensus with the Modern-day Leadership Theories

Literature reveals charisma, trust, inspiration and consensus are all important factors of transformational leadership, which elevate followers’ well-being (Gillespie and Mann, 2004; Khatri, 2005; Nielsen and Munir, 2009; Liu et al., 2010; Felfe and Heinitz, 2010). Bass (1985) suggests that transformational leadership theory results into growth and empowerment of the followers, and Howell (1988) believes transformational leadership style develops dependency among the followers on the leader. This means that followers’ motivation, self respect and esteem all are dependent on the positive feedback and recognition from the leader. Richard Branson could well exemplify modern-day transformational leadership. In Virgin empire the individual personality of Branson is stamped all through the organization, and his values and goals derive and infuse every corner of the corporation. Charismatic transformational leaders like Branson are capable to achieve their impact by the creation of followers who personally identify with this style as well as with the work group they are with (Yukl, 1989). Conger and Kanungo (1998) suggest that the personal attachment and identification with the leaders is because of leader’s charismatic style and approach and is based on referent power. Similarly, Shamir et al. (1993) suggest that role model behaviour is one main method with which leaders influence the followers. The older leadership styles such as contingency models of Fiedler (1967), Vroom and Yetton (1973) and Yukl (1989) have main focus on the identification of the leadership styles which predicts effective results depending on situational contingencies. But these theories could not advise for a continuous changing environment and circumstances.

One of concepts recognised by most scholars as accurately reflecting what it is to be a leader is leadership is a trait (Rost, 1991). Stogdill (1974) studied some leadership qualities in traits that appeared more often than others, like sense of responsibility, self-confidence and emphasis on task competition. However, Shaw (1976) and Fraser (1978) identifies that leaders usually attain above average scores for the traits like motivation, ability and sociability. Rost (1991) suggests that according to the trait theory people are either born or not born with the leadership qualities that help them succeed in the leading roles. Inherited qualities for example the personality and cognitive ability are basis of the effective leadership. Author feels that sometimes traits are built or developed within the leaders. Richard Branson was not very sociable in his school life, but he has made himself the face of Virgin Group by participating in the shocking promotional and publicity stunts to gain attention. Therefore, personality and traits are core part of modern-day leadership, but accordance to needs and wants of the business become the more rife drivers of the behavior. Modern-day leadership styles are more associated with the mix of charisma and trust to inspire the followers.

Influence of Cultural Differences on Modern-day Leadership

In modern days, more and more researches are focused on leaders/leadership in the context of globalization, that is global leaders/leadership (Mendenhall et al., 2008). It is also indicated despite of being a good leader in home country, one of the biggest challenges facing modern global leaders is how to lead people cross-culturally (Thomas, 2008; Deresky, 2011), as one leadership style may be effective in one culture, but fails in another (Scandura and Dorfman, 2004). DeGrosky (2011) reveals that leadership theory and practice have a great impact and are influenced by the differences among the cultures. However, the basic or fundamental principles of the leadership are same in all cultures even if leaders execute those functions in diverse ways from culture to culture. People influence others through leadership. People’s values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours vary largely by culture (Hofstede, 1998; Walumbwa et al., 2007; Thomas, 2008), so efficiency of leadership influence differs by cultures, too. In some cultures, people could be influenced successfully by applying coherent persuasion teamwork and consultation, while other cultures may be influenced successfully by using general approaches like socialising, gifting and exerting pressure (DeGrosky, 2011). For example, as Americans have an individualistic cultural style (Hofstede, 1983), in this cultural context, leadership looks more at individual leaders and personality traits, style, behavior, as well as charisma, and it is encouraged to highlight individual success; While in China, with a highly collectivism context, it is more reasonable to praise a team/group, instead of individuals. The case of the Floundering Expatriate also indicates that different leadership style is required by different cultural context. In modern-day leadership, people’s views of effectual leadership change from customary and individualistic toward collective and collaborative styles. The Global Leadership and Organisational Behavior Effectiveness project in 2004 indentifies there are universally accepted leadership characteristics worldwide. Positive leader attributes include trustworthiness, justice, confidence, honesty and so forth, while loner, non-cooperation, ruthlessness and asociality etc. are negative attributes (House et al., 2004).


Concept of modern-day leadership differs from one school of thought to other like modern-day leadership styles include simple linear, visionary, pure arts and science, systems thinking and military style, etc. However, in modern-day leadership there is no single leading style among the leaders and in the organisations. Type of the organization and followers’ characteristics also play an important role in deciding for the leadership style now. But the key point is that modern-day leadership is increasingly associated with charisma, inspiration, trust and consensus, as well as other determinants like follower’s characteristics and cultural differences. However, charisma is criticised in a positive as well as in a negative manner by different school of thoughts. When charismatic leadership style is based on the core values like paying respect and attention to the ideas of subordinates, then this brings a positive synergism for the impact of charismatic leadership style in the success of the business processes and operations. Trust between leaders and the followers is the basis for success of charismatic leadership style. Strategic leaders and policy makers with inspirational abilities and consensus development attitudes can develop trust between them and the followers/employees. In short, charisma, inspiration and trust are linked with each other and collectively help develop commitment among the followers.

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