Historical Approaches And Leadership Theories Management Essay

Implicit leadership theory establishes that we all have pre conceived characteristics and expectations that distinguishes a leader from a non leader. It also suggest, that we all use our own criteria to evaluate leader figure or individuals in position of power according to our believes. Depending on our values and culture characteristics and expectations of our leaders will differ from one another. The conclusion of this approach is that leaders must be aware of their own implicit leadership patterns and be sensitive to implicit leadership patterns of others we all individually hold in order for the leader to be effective

The Traits approach

The focus of the traits leadership theory was based on the study of traits of effective leaders. Studies were completed to determine the relation between individual traits and measures of leadership effectiveness. Researchers were trying to answer the question if leaders have certain traits that differentiate them from non-leaders. Early studies for this theory suggested that leaders are more adaptable, self-confident, intelligent, verbal and cooperative than the average non-leader group member. Other trait-related studies suggests that leaders have personality traits clustered in several categories; including personality traits, core self-evaluation, task- related personality traits, motives and cognitive factors. The conclusion of the traits approach to leadership based on the studies completed show that leaders are different from non-leaders and that effective leaders are different from less effective leaders. With regard to the question, are leaders born or bred? The traits, motive and characteristics required for effective leadership are a combination of heredity and environment.

Behavioral Theories

The behavioral theories were based on behaviors and styles exhibited by leaders. The most well-known behavioral leadership studies occurred at Ohio State University and the University of Michigan in the late 1940s and 1950s.

The conclusion of Ohio State studies was that there were two dimensions of leaders’ behaviors that describe how leaders perform, consideration and initiating structure. Initiating structure or task-oriented behavior, involves planning, organizing, and coordinating the work of subordinates. Consideration involves showing concern for subordinates, being supportive, recognizing subordinates’ accomplishments, and providing for subordinates’ welfare. The focus of University of Michigan leadership studies was to determine the reason and methods of leadership that led to productivity and job satisfaction. The studies resulted in two general leadership behaviors or orientations: an employee orientation and a production orientation. Leaders with an employee orientation showed genuine concern for interpersonal relations. Those with a production orientation focused on the task or technical aspects of the job. The conclusion of these studies was that an employee orientation and general instead of close supervision resulted in better results in productivity and job satisfaction.

Also based on the behavioral approach to leadership effectiveness was the Managerial or Leadership Grid, developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton in the late 50s. The grid proposes two interdependent attitudinal dimensions; concern for results or production with concern for people and presents five alternative behavioral styles of leadership. Different combinations of these two dimensions form various leadership “styles”. Being the most effective one the “team leader or team management” style, managers with high concern for both, production and people.

An important insight from the behavioral theories is the leader’s effectiveness will be tied to the degree in which the leader creates and environment of emotional support based on trust, friendliness and connecting with people; as well as, the degree in which the leader organizes and define relationships and tasks, specifying procedures.

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Contingency leadership theories (1960s and 1970s)

Contingency or situational theories of leadership propose that effectiveness of the leaders depends on external factors and specific situation of the organizational or group. Four of the more well-known contingency theories are Fiedler’s contingency theory, path-goal theory, the Vroom-Yetton-Jago decision-making model of leadership, and the situational leadership theory.

Fiedler’s contingency theory assumes that leaders, based on their own needs could be task-oriented or relationship oriented. This theory also suggests that the “favorability” of the situation determines the effectiveness of the leader. Task-oriented leaders were more effective when the situation was either highly favorable or highly unfavorable, but that person-oriented leaders were more effective in the moderately favorable or unfavorable situations.

Path-goal theory (1971) by Robert House (revised in 1996). Path-goal theory proposes that leader’s role is to clear follower’s path to goal by using best suited behavioral styles. The leader then could act as directive, supportive, participative or achievement- oriented

The Vroom-Yetton-Jago decision-making model (1970s -1980s) was introduced by Victor Vroom and Phillip Yetton (revised by Vroom and Jago in 1988). Helps managers to determine the appropriate level of subordinate participation in decision making. Managers could choose the most appropriate method for a given situation: Decide, consult individually, consult in group, facilitate or delegate.

The situational leadership model (1970s) by Hersey and Blanchard. The theory suggests that leaders should adapt their behaviors to the “readiness” and maturity level of the followers and therefore leaders should be able to assess the readiness level or each follower for each task.

In conclusion, the contingency and situational leadership theories base leader’s effectiveness when they make their behaviors contingent on situational forces including the characteristics of the member, group or organization being led. Therefore, leaders must use the appropriate style of leadership based on circumstances. These theories also establish that effectiveness in the organization is affected by situational factors (sometimes out of the leaders control), which in turn can impact how the leaders behave.

Transactional vs. Transformational Leadership Theories (late 70s, 80s and 90s)

The theories also emphasize the importance of leaders’ inspiring subordinates’ admiration, dedication, and unquestioned loyalty through articulating a clear and compelling vision.

Transformational leadership theory differentiates between the transactional and the transformational leader. Transactional leader (managers) focuses on role and task requirements and utilizes rewards contingent on performance. Transformational leader (leaders) focuses on articulate vision of the future and sense of mission. They inspire motivation by setting important goals and pride; as well as trust, respect and loyalty from their followers.

Leader member exchange theory (1990s).

Leader-member exchange (LMX) theory emphasizes the unique working relationship leaders develop with group members.

This theory suggest that leaders do not treat all subordinates in the same manner, but establish close relationships with some (the in-group) while remaining aloof from others (the out-group). Those in the in-group enjoy relationships with the leader that is marked by trust and mutual respect. They tend to be involved in important activities and decisions. Conversely, those in the out-group are excluded from important activities and decisions.

Emerging leadership trends and approaches

Drivers such as increasing the need for innovation, diversity workforce, globalization, advances in technology, and complex organizational structures have made the nature of leadership change. Modern organizations expect more from their leaders. Very often, leaders are not just leading one group or team; instead they have to lead vertically and horizontally across their organizations. According to the Center of Creative Leadership and its research completed in 2003 “The changing nature of leadership”, connected leadership is an emerging view of leadership as an inclusive and collective networked activity occurring throughout organizations. This emerging view of leadership suggest that effective leadership in today’s environment is a collective effort between leaders and followers and not so much tied to the individual traits and behaviors of the leader.

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Another growing trend of leadership is a new focus on followers. As leader effectively motivate and engage followers, empowered followers play an important role modeling leaders’ decision and behaviors. Effective followers have a direct impact on strengthening their leader’s actions through their support or weakening their leaders to their lack thereof.

Global Leadership

Osland, Bird, Mendenhall, and Osland introduced the concept of Global Leadership in 2006. They defined global leadership as “a process of influencing the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors of a global community to work together synergistically toward a common vision and common goals” (p. 204). In 2002 these authors conducted another study which found six core dimensions of competencies of a global leader: cross-cultural relationship skills, traits and values, cognitive orientation, global business expertise, global organizing expertise and visioning

Insight from broad leadership approaches and recommendation for manager selection, development and training.

Based on the studies completed for over a century in leadership we can conclude that a single theory or approach cannot completely give us a recipe for effective leadership. However, each theory and approach give us valuable information on characteristics, behaviors and situations that can make the role of a leader effective or ineffective based on specific times and situations. The reality is that the nature of leadership has changed and will continue to do so, as a result for changes in values across generations, reduction of usable power, technology and education. One can argue that the right leadership style will depend on the situation and type of group being lead, however the trend for most of today’s leaders is to move from less autocratic or dictatorial leadership (except for situations of a crisis), towards a more inclusive or participative style of leadership.

New generations of manager and leaders should have the right combination of intellectual skills; specific knowledge in their area of expertise, as well as, the capacity to effectively navigate and negotiate complex social relationships and environments seen is most modern organizations. Innovation and authenticity; as well as charisma (depending on the type of organization and followers) can greatly impact leadership effectiveness and results. It is also important for new leaders and managers to be able to influence others effectively in order to accomplish our objectives. With less usable power, effectively influencing others to achieve our objectives is now more important than it was for past generations. Equally important for new managers and leaders is their understanding of diversity in the workforce and how difference values and attitudes can positively or negatively impact productivity and efficiency. The same it is quite important for operations is multinational organizations.

My recommendation for manager selection should be based on the traits, skills and behaviors outlined above. In terms of training and development, available support and training in key areas such as effective communication, self management, collaboration, community projects and multi-cultural difference can be valuable for those with the potential to become our next leaders.

What we expect from our leaders

As nature of leadership has changed over the years, what we expect from our leaders has also changed. Modern organizations and corporations have more complex structures. Leaders and managers have the task to work with different levels of hierarchy within the organization (for example, subordinates, investors, board of directors) and outside the organization (their communities and associates around the world). Employees aspire and wish to have facilitators as leaders rather than autocratic dictators. Many of us prefer to have the opportunity to learn from our leaders or managers from challenges and situations. As part of an organization, we want to feel included in decision making process and also that our input is valued. Certainly, seeing both, our potential being used and its impact on the work. We also, expect from our leaders clear directions while simultaneously looking to leaders to be sensitive and understanding of our needs and aspirations, some degree of empathy for us. Some of the “Primary Leadership Dimensions” identified across different cultures and viewed as most important for leader’s effectiveness include: Administrative competent, charismatic inspirational, decisive, integrity, and team collaborative. We expect from our leaders for them to have high cognitive skills as well as emotional intelligence. Equally important for us is that our leaders have and communicate their vision and objectives; and that his or her actions and decisions are consistent with such vision and objectives. Someone who leads by example, support fair processes and inspire trusted; most importantly, someone who can lead with respect for all members of the organization or team and can lead us with integrity.

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My leadership style

In general my personal leadership style is participative. I believe that accepting input from one or more group members when making decisions and solving problems is beneficial and effective. Since no leader can be an expert in all areas, the ideas, knowledge and expertise of other members of the organization create a more complete basis for good decision making. It also has a positive effect with subordinates or followers since they feel included in the process. Group members tend to be encouraged and motivated by this style participative leadership style.

I also believe that good leaders should adapt and change their leading styles to the situation, organization and type of followers they are leading. Sometimes changing on style of leadership depending upon the situation the leader is in is essential to achieve effective leadership. A good leader will know how to switch his or her style to authoritarian, participative or delegating depending on the objectives, the organization or group and situational factors.

In addition, my leadership style applies the concept of “social intelligence”. For me, social intelligence is an essential component to achieve motivation and inspire others to act. Since leadership is the social aspect of management; I think we accomplish more when we create effective relationships and networks with our followers or team. Such effectiveness can be accomplished by getting to know our subordinate or team (what’s important to them and what their motivation is), by getting to know ourselves (self-awareness of our emotions, how they affect other as well as knowing our strengths and limitation) and showing empathy for others.

Most important, my leadership style reflects and upholds my personal and organizational values as the ultimate test. Decision making are made through a fair process and the administration of resources and personnel handled with honestly and integrity; always tying the best to reach the goals of what my subordinates, organization and community expect from me as a leader.


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