Comparison of Leadership Theories

Keywords: compare leadership theories, leadership theories comparison

The establishment of relationship between followers and leaders that focus on real changes and outcomes that reflects through shared purposes is basically leadership. Leadership also involves in creating change not only in maintaining status quote. Another leadership important feature is to bring people and make them understanding to come together around a common vision and to bring change about desired future. In many aspects, the importance of leadership is vital without it families, communities and as well as organisations would go down apart. In other sense, the way of improving efficiency, morale, customer service and performance is the critical aspect of leadership. It is also essential for the organisations to handle critical situation and lead that effectively and only a good leader with good leadership ability can lead team successfully. There are different styles of leadership basically it is way the person deals with that in order to stay alive in his or her position. These are authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire.( Business:William M. Pride, Robert J. Hughes, Jack R. Kapoor,Cengage Learning, 2009 – Political Science -p.179)

In authoritarian leadership style, leader holds all the power and responsibilities. In this style, employees are assigned to specific task by the leader and expect to get it done orderly.

In laissez-faire leadership style, leader gives power to employees. There are two or more alternative decisions taken by leader, employees can choose any of them from there it depends up to them.

In democratic leadership styles, leader gives more importance on employees and tries to encourage them and shows attention to individuals.

Historical, classical and contemporary approach to Leadership theory: Historically there are many leadership approaches that linked with different theories of leadership.

“Great Man” theory of leadership:

1900’s: This is the earliest theories of leadership. At that time most of the researchers believed that ‘leaders are born, not made’. In Great Man theory, describes that the main secrets of a great leader lies in being born great. It gives importance on the study of all the great leaders who were great, may be they are from aristocracy or from the lower classes but they had the opportunities to lead. By finding out those people who did great things such as Nepolean, Hitler, Curchill if we go further back then Lord Krisna, Gesus and Hazrat Mohammad were very easy to point out them. According to ‘Great Man’ theory, it believes that leaders must have some qualities like good commanding power, cleverness, good character, courage, self-possession; fierceness and expressiveness that can’t be possessed through learning or through particular taught programmes.(Organisational behaviour-by Hawa Singh,1st ed,2009-10,page-263)( Fire Service Leadership: Theories and Practices-Mitchell R. Waite, International Association of Fire Chiefs;Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2008 – Business & Economics;page-3,4)

Trait Theories of Leadership:

1900’s-1940: Trait theories are similar to “Great Man” theories in some ways. It assumes that leaders must possess general traits or personal features that they get by born and common to all and create them better matched to leadership. In Trait Theory of leadership just tried to find traits of well-known leader that were frequent. This approach was based on the scheme that is individuality and personal intrinsic worth that distinguish successful leader form everyone else. In 1994, Yukl conducted research on traits and skills and linked to organisational effectiveness (Introduction to educational leadership & organizational behavior: theory into practice,Patti L. Chance, Edward W. Chance,Eye on Education, 2002,page.87). These were-

  • Energy and pressure patience
  • Self-possession
  • Inner locus of control
  • Emotional maturity
  • Worthiness
  • Supremacy inspiration
  • Reaching orientation
  • Need for affiliation

Situational Theories of Leadership:

(Leadership in Organizations: There Is a Difference between Leaders and Managers, David, University Press of America, 2009, p 33)

In situational theories of leadership gives more importance on the different situations like where the task to be accomplished, fit surrounded by personalities, power and perceptions. Effectiveness of leadership relies on those situations. These situational theories are also called Contingency theories because this Theory is reliant upon the requirements or the status of the situations.

1960’s-70: In Contingency/situational theory argues-what leaders perform that can be determined by that situations and that behaviors must be related with that environmental situations in hand (Understanding Leadership Perspectives: Theoretical and Practical Approaches, By Matthew R. Fairholm, Gilbert W. Fairholm,2008,page.11).

A good situational leader can only apply different leadership styles with the changing situations. The best action taken by the leader depends on of the leader depends on a range of situational factors. How the model works simply to achieve results:

  • Identification of detailed job and task
  • Asses present performance
  • Corresponding leader response

Different leadership styles could influence by the wide range of variables depending on the different environmental situations and it creates an impact on leader behaviour, in which leader can function. There are some critical contingencies like organisational volume, complexity in task, maturity of worker and so many others. According to situational theory, situational factors are limited and vary according to that contingency and specified behaviour of leader can only work in certain kind of situations not for all.

Read also  National Seminar On Corporate Social Responsibility Management Essay

There are three most prominent theories of contingency-

  • Path-Goal theory
  • Feidler’s Contingency theory
  • The Vroom-Yetton’s model

Path-Goal theory:

In this theory mainly focus on leader’s motivational function and it can be enhanced by increasing individual payoffs to subordinates for work goal achievement, gain personal satisfaction by escalating opportunities (House, 1971).According to these theories key occupier is that the effectiveness can be measured through the behaviours of different leaders that will be influenced by situational variables. In broader sense it focused on initial arrangement and reflection behaviour of leader’s but later it extended in the form of participative and leadership behaviours in terms of achievement oriented (House and Mitchell, 1974).there are two major assumption on path-Goal theories of leadership-

(Leadership edited by Linda L. Neider, Chester Schriesheim, IAP, 2002, page-116)

Firstly, it concerns with the suitability of leader’s behaviour to the subordinates

Secondly, it concerns with the motivational factors of leader (House and Mitchell, 1974).

Suitability: Leader behaviours need to be suitable for the subordinates so that it helps them to function well with different situation. This good behaviour of leader enhances the overall satisfactions of subordinates.

Motivation: The role of a leader is important in motivating of employees for particular task to increase the overall performance.

Fiedler’s Contingency theory:

Managing organizational behaviour: Henry, Neal P. Mero, John R. Rizzo Wiley-Blackwell, 2000 – pages.461, 467

In 1971, Feidler proposed clarification on that how group performance can be affected through the relations of leadership orientation, group setting and job characteristics. Leader’s situation can measure though various extents like relationships between leaders and members, structure of job and position power (Fiedler, 1978).

The relationship between leader and member: This refers to how the leader is liked by the group members. When good relationship exists between leaders and members then all are get high satisfaction in work and organisations values is achieved through individual values. If the relation is going badly then there is lack of common trust. Another important term group cohesiveness, it is very difficult to make all the employees work together when it low. If it is high but bad relation with leader then group works together to harm the organisation as well as leader.

Structure of jobs: It is categorised in two ways like high task and low task structure. In high task job structure leader should know what the goal is and how to achieve that. In low task structure job leader must make a decision how to perform task every time to get it done.

Position power: In high position power leader has authority to take any important decisions without informing anyone to higher organisation levels. In low position power, leader has limited authority.

The Vroom-Yetton’s model of leadership:

This model is widely used in the development of leadership in corporate centre and also gets enough support from practitioners. (Industrial and organizational psychology: linking theory with practice; By Cary L. Cooper, Edwin A. Locke, page-151,152)The most important aspects of this model is that legitimates both the autocratic and democratic leader behaviour and matching that is suitable in meticulous situations. This model also provides fruitful information about what would be the perfect time of using groups or opposed to personality decision making. This model has some limitations like leaders are always have to take decision in choosing of leadership styles, it considers each decision in term of situation but it does not depend on previous factor.

Cognitive resource theory:

Cognitive Resource theory is the modification of Feidler’s Contingency theory. This theory focused on personality, manners and situational properties. Cognitive resource theory integrates cognitive resources like personal acumen, practical knowledge and skill, job capability, into original model.


1) Plans and strategies are communicated through directive behaviour by mangers.

2) Experienced and smarter leaders have more priority on decision making rather than less experienced and less smart leader.

The main limitation of this theory that it is not well thought-out the ability of leader.

The Hersey Blanchard Theory:

This situational theory developed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard and it focuses on activity and operational environment of the organisation. Their main approach was that followers will always get favour from the leader about their willingness to do the job. In this approach leaders have to understand about the followers properly and have to identify their stage of development and according to that apply the leadership style. With taking help from Ohio State studies and develop four leadership styles that is available for managers-

(Leadership in Organizations: There Is a Difference between Leaders and Managers by David I. Bertocci;University Press of America, 2009 ,pages.39,40)

  • Directing or telling
  • Coaching or selling
  • Participating or supporting
  • Delegating

Directing or telling: Job responsibilities is defined by the leader and inform to followers about when to do that and where to do it and how can it be done.


Coaching: It’s a two way communication here leader gives supportive direction to followers and sometimes ask for ideas or suggestion from followers as well.

Supporting or participating: The leader and follower share in decision accordingly to achieve a maximum values like what will be the best to compete with high worth job

Delegating: Followers get little support from the leaders.

Implications of this theory: one problem is that it does not matter how hard leaders try but they are against to change from one style to another.


Behavioural Theories of Leadership:

In this theory mainly focus on behaviour of leaders in the direction of the followers and this became a leading mode of leadership approaching within the organisation. Diverse patterns of manners were grouped together and categorized as styles. These activities of management through training became very famous. Basically these styles are-

Task concern-Here leaders give important on objectives accomplishment through high level productivity, and ways to manage people and activities for achieving those objectives.

People concern-Here leaders focus on their followers as people – what their needs, interests, what their problems, how it can be development and so on. They are not simply units of production or means to an end.

Directive leadership. This style is considered by leaders make decisions for others – and desiring all the followers or subordinates will pursue that directions.

Participative leadership. Here leaders take part in decision-making by sharing among others.(Wright 1996: 36-7), 6.00pm, 27th Aug ’10 Wright, P. (1996) Managerial Leadership, London:

Charismatic Leadership:

This theory is defined by Max Weber and mainly focuses on leader’s charismatic characteristics. Through these characteristics leaders influence the followers and they can change anything. It is not possible to access these qualities by ordinary people generally they are extraordinary. They are like magic leaders they got special power to handle complex situations.

Transactional Theories:

(Introduction to educational leadership & organizational behavior: theory into practice,Patti L. Chance, Chance, 2002,page.94)

Ok -Leadership in Organizations: There Is a Difference Between Leaders and Managers, David I. Bertocci, University Press of America, 2009, page-48,49

This approach of leadership was most popular at that time and this is defined by Gibson, Ivancevich and Donnelly. It has some similar features with situational theories. It’s a kind of leadership where leaders find out what the need of followers to achieve organisational performance as a means of rewards. In this theory has several assumptions like it motivates people through reward and get punishment for the cause of mistakes, followers know what they have to do according to direction for the purpose of getting rewards. Sometimes they use management by exception techniques. The transactional leader sometimes use Path-Goal theory as a framework but leader take all the responsibilities for setting goals, mission for gaining effectiveness.

Transformational Theories:

Followers are motivated and inspired by the transformation leaders and to achieve results more than desired. This is the most recent theories of leadership. This leadership ability based on different personality factors like charisma, person attention and rational recreation (page-49). Introduction to educational leadership & organizational behavior: theory into practice- By Patti L. Chance, Edward W. Chance, 2002, page-90, 95

There are several effects of transformational leadership defined by Bernard Bass and Bruce Avolio (1994) .These are as follows:-

  • Motivating others to involve them in work from new perception
  • Consciousness about what the mission of the organisation
  • Developing ability of other’s to achieve performance at exceeds level
  • Involved in determining the benefits of the organisations by motivating the beyond their attention as they could have.

Theory X and Theory Y of Leadership:

In 1960, Douglus and McGregor described this leadership theory that the activities of leaders are based on their thinking and considerations about the individuals at work. He also described the behaviour of leaders in two contrasting sets of bliefs.These are theory X and Theory Y.

The assumptions of Theory X:

Average individual do not like work and avoid if they can

Individual need to keep pushing for achieving desired objectives by directing, controlling and threatening through giving punishment

This approach can take actions

The assumptions of Theory Y:

  • People will work in their own responsibilities and control according to how they are committed.
  • In common people have some qualities like creativeness and imaginativeness
  • The average individuals are not only accepted but look for objectives.

Leadership models currently using in different organisations:

Now a day, most of the organisations are focusing on leader’s behaviours, skills and attitudes that they must have and it is possible to develop those qualities. There are many leadership theories that have gained recognition in different organisational perspective. These are as follows-

  • Situational leadership
  • Transformational leadership
  • Behavioural leadership

(The leadership pocketbook, Fiona Elsa Dent – 2003, page.09)

Qualities of people in leadership positions:

There are three levels of leadership positions in an organisation. These are strategic level, operational level and team level. A good leader should possess some good qualities to handle this position effectively and tactfully. These are as follows:-

  1. Good character
  2. Good personality
  3. Devotion
Read also  Outsourcing Of Wal Mart Supply Chain In China Management Essay

Self confidence- this will help them to identify subordinate’s talent basically that will help the business to go up

Good communication capability- it is very important for any business to run effectively without this it is impossible

Good learner – it will help them to develop

Risk taking ability

Problem solving capability

Relationships-this qualities need to maintain positive relationship in all areas

Creative minded-this qualities help them to bring any change when there is esteem needs in order to sustain in the business for achieving high level of success

Positive attitudes

Servant leadership-decision making ability through considering the opinion attractiveness with business vision by stimulating the followers

  • Bravery
  • Innovative
  • Good motivation power


Leadership approaches for 21st century:,7:53pm,26th Aug ’10,9.00pm,26th,july’2010

Main points considering different leading organisations in US for the 21st century:

Internationalization and Change in information Technology though change in organisational diversity.

Today’s most dominant leadership model is situational, transformational leadership model but these theories ignored behavioural approach. Most of the organisations now focusing on main diversity initiatives and it can tackle through behavioural approach of leadership. These diversity initiatives can only be implemented through behavioural approach in today’s or tomorrow’s in the organisations.

The main leadership challenges for 21st century’s are forces in market, issues of people and competencies of leadership.

Forces in market:

The organizational change at a macroeconomic level is mainly depends on market forces and as a result these forces will require further keep in eye from organizations and leaders. For these purposes, so these market forces create an impact on behaviours and desires of those in the market either in terms of demanding or supplying a good or service. These forces consist of increase in globalization as well as the formation of progressively more huge multinational organizations through mergers and takeovers.

In compared to larger organizations, most industries grow economies of scale by distributing overhead expenses through production of more units. Through globalization organisations is now offering products and services in different countries and cultures, the market size is increasing and they are serving lot. The overall cost of reaching these global is reduced on the cause of technological advancement.

Issues of people:

People issues involve interaction with the staff of an organization. With the beginning of the 21st century, these people are involving in conventional full-time. People are now more interested on part-time jobs. Every year more and more people will be self-employed, temporary or part-time. In United States’ dependent work force the total number of full time worker is reducing day by In future, staff will have different hope and demands on their organizations. Mainly, the organisation will have to focus more on the employee-employer relationship than it did in the 20th century. With their increased complexity and globalization, organizations are demanding skills and abilities from their leaders that are only beginning to be understood, never mind mastered. One of the most important of these will be the ability to balance employee wants and customer requirements globally and effectively in upcoming years. Talent human capital will be the prime sources of success.

Competencies of leadership:

In 21st century world is going to be more competitive, more complex situations. Leaders must have to focus on vision and goals of the organisation. They will have to tackle situations on day-to-day basis, have to identify stakeholders for the purpose of developing people, have to devote in service.

Another explanation of competencies will consist of: development and communication ability for maintaining it in a dynamic market and stimulating others to buy into it; helps in decision making by guiding employees at all levels; committing to a culture while aligning individual and corporate goals, gaining knowledge about development.

Another new leadership approach for 21st century is Cross Enterprise Leadership.

Cross Enterprise Leadership:

Cross-Enterprise Leadership — that can generate, capture and distribute worth not only in company but all over the network of companies. Secondly, this enterprise-leadership also meets the challenges of complex and dynamic enterprises. Thirdly, it is not possible to manage enterprise by one leader, so consequently it needs to be distributed. Finally, this approach requires changes to leadership and that must be possessed by conventional business leader.,26th aug’10 )

The current all the theories mainly focus on physical, mental interactions of human in the organisations but spirituals contains.

Spiritual leadership:

This leadership supplies hope and belief in the organization’s vision that will generally help follower’s to look forward to future. In other ways it can be described through the attitudes and behaviour of leader’s that generates sense membership.        

In operational field, spiritual leadership deals with the values, attitudes, and behaviours of leaders that are indispensable to inherently motivate one’s self and others.,8.0 pm,27th aug’10

Order Now

Order Now

Type of Paper
Number of Pages
(275 words)