Identify Current Thinking On Leadership

In the last few decade it has been found the relation between the effective leadership style and culture is very critical. For example, the multinational organization like Daimler Chrysler, IBM forces their HR and other department to recognize the culture limitation of the organization and the leadership style. A number of researchers have done their work on understanding the impact of culture on the leadership practices and vice versa (ea.,Gessner, Arnold, & Mobley, 1999; Hofstede,1991;house, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman,& Gupta, (2004)’ Leslie & Van Velsor,1998). International literature has been reviewed and the generalization of leadership theories being assessed by Dorfmen(2004) and chemers( 1997), both of them found out some mixed result, yet some behavioral like supportive leadership and transnational leadership style result similar across the culture. While the cultural consequences has been observed with directive leadership.

From the last fifty years the thinking patterns about the leadership, whether in a board room or in communities has been heavily influenced by mode of heroic leadership. Traditionally the idea about the leadership was considered up to skills, qualities and behavior of individual who forces and influences other to take action and achieve the given task or common goal by using their position and power. But later on as the more studied and research on the topic has been done it has been found that this way of thinking is a mere part of leadership theory and it fail to explain the leadership as a process build by relationship that are dynamic, fluid and non-directive in nature. Leadership understanding is a unique process that requires to think very differently about the changes had taken place and how we work others individual and groups.

To understand the Current leadership style and thinking it is necessary to understand the history about it. How it is developed or evolved. Unless by understanding them it is difficult to comment on their evaluation. This paper provides a brief summary of the different style leadership and their relation with cultural implication.

A Brief History about Leadership

Great Man theories: These theories are based on belief that leaders have some exceptional born qualities in them. Here the term man is used intentionally as it has been observed the leaders of primitive time are male whether from military, politics or king etc. these lead the next school of trait theories.

Trait theories: This theory argues that leaders have some common trait among them. It can be said according this theory all leaders are having some common ingredient. Though this theory also fail to explain how the leader e.g. Margaret Thatcher or Winston Churchill with these characteristics fail to perform as a leader. While some despite having those trait became a successful leader.

Behavioral theories: These theories are developed to explain the failure of Trait theory, the initial work to develop these theories has been started in 1940 to till 1960. These theories are based on leadership behavior rather than their trait. What leaders do rather than what the quality they have? Different style and pattern of behavior of leaders are analyzed and observed. This is one of the most interested area for practiced managers. (Arnold, & Mobley, 1999; Hofstede,1991)

Situational Leadership theories: This theory argues that different situation demand different type leadership style. Sometime it requires being autocratic, some time democratic some time participative.

It recognizes the demand of situation and a leadership style has to be changed according to situation. It also suggests a different type of leadership style is required within the same organization at different level.

Contingency Theory: It can be said it is the advancement of the Situational Leadership theory. Its focus on identifying the situational variable which predict the best suitable style of leadership style for the given situation.

Transactional Theory: This theory emphasis the relation between the leader and the follower. It focuses on the mutual benefit and common interest. According to this theory, the leader commits something in return to his/her follower for favoring or following him or her. It is more or less give and take style, hence known as transactional theory as name suggest no bonding after the deliverable.

Transformational Theory: The motto here is to change role of leadership by transformation, by motivation, by education, by emotion etc.

New leadership theory

Relates to Charismatic, Visionary, Transformational. In the 1980s, the new definition of a leader has been given by using the above word.

Learning organizations and distributed leadership: All of the theories discussed above take an individualistic perspective of a leader, in current practices a new school of thought is becoming more popular known as dispersed leadership. This approach tells us to distribute leadership spread it across the organization, societies, geography, and politics. This approach sees leadership as a process that is diffused through the cultures, organization, societies rather than laying a few handful of people designated as leader. The locus has been shifted from developing a leader to developing leaderful organization or societies.

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It is evident from the above theory that none of the theory explains leadership comprehensively. The Distributed leadership practice fight with the idea of difficult time demand a transformational and charismatic leader. To satisfy this need there are a number of themes that are important for systematic analysis of leadership are context, perceived leadership, behavioral requirements, development methods and capabilities.( Dorfmen, 2004;chemers, 1997)

Context: A leadership cannot be discussed in isolation it has some external environment some extraneous and variable factor. By considering this factor, a leadership style has to be evolved or developed. For example, the requirement of a government office job is quite different from those required private sector jobs. Alternatively, the requirement for a job academician or researcher the qualities might be different which required for a sales job.

Perceived Need: A lot of researches in 1960s suggest that the context lead to the need. However from the late 1940s there has been a technical and social aspect to analysis of organization hence it is not surprising to see that some researchers argument over the ideological aspect to the perceived need for leadership. For example Top management do not buy the idea that people follow them because they have authority… they like to feel that they lead because they have the quality to lead (Miller and Form 1964)

By putting aside the need of the top manager whether social or psychological and going by the perspective of stakeholders and other staff, the perceived leadership requirement for the situation depend upon the expectation of the individual and group involved as well as from the reality of situation too. It has been found the expectation of people and group themselves be a reflection of the existing belief, culture, and norms. For example leading a service centre is different from leading a audit team.

The group member’s expectation from the leader is different in both the group due the culture, knowledge, belief and practice both the group follow. Hence affect the effective leadership style.

Behavioral Requirements and competencies

The leaders require having some behavioral requirement and competencies. Many models have been suggested to define these requirement and competencies. Though these three are common among them.

Cognitive: Drawing the big picture and making direction to modify it.

Making change happen: This quality talk about motivational skills and get the work done from the subordinate

Inter-organizational: To work with the college and partner and create a healthy environment

Current Thinking

Transformational Leadership (TL) and Emotional Intelligence (EI) are the most popular views in the current moment. Though it cannot be suggested that they are right because they are popular rather they are right because indeed a lot of research and scholar’s work has been done on both the views and they explain the leadership up to a great extent in current scenario. (Miller and Forum 1964)

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is more than transaction leadership. Anderson, TD(1992) talk transforming leadership is about vision, planning, communication and creative action which has a positive and motivating effect on the group and individual under a clear set of values and beliefs, to accomplish a desired measureable goals. This transforming moves similarly impact on the personal development and the productivity or corporation. It can be said the heart of transformational leadership is inspiring vision.

The transformational leaders motivate people to achieve beyond expectation for the interest of group, corporation, and society on the verse of personal interest. TL makes a positive impact on morality, empowerment and motivation of an individual and group. (Routledge, 2006; Transformational Leadership; pg 34-38)

The main characteristics of a TL is discussed by various leaders is highlighted below.

Charismatic: Charismatic is a metaphor like a role model whom other follow and strive to emulate those characters who align the other people around a common goal and purpose.

Inspirational: This word talks about the leadership quality, which provides the meaning and optimism about the common goal and its attainability.

Intellectually Stimulating: This quality of the leader encourage the follower to develop a leader within them and verify the basic assumption involved in a project and consider the problem from a unique and new perspectives.

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Individually considerate: This quality of leader explain how leader work in a team, work with their follower , find out their need, figured out their self interest and develop their potential and how to enhance their expectations.

A study conducted by Tom Peters found that TL leaders in the public sector where they took off their interest from the financial, management issue and government out target have had to go. On the other hand it can be said great characters are likely to have great weaknesses too, which lead to hamper their position, their colleagues, their followers and their organizations too.

Although the above stanza portray the negative image of a transactional leader, but it can’t be generalized because in the last decade it has been observed TL has moved beyond the Great Leader to distributed leadership and has been became a more balanced towards recognizing the importance of good management. Here the emphasis is given on the result, the process, the practices and a continuous learning environment for an individual and the for the group too. (John Storey & Michael Fullan; Leading a cultural change)

Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Daniel Goleman has researched and written about the term a lot. According to him this term and its application to leadership behaviors to neuroscience in a manner that correlate human thinking and feeling and explain how our right brain concurs over the left. Hence to be a emotionally intelligent leader it is prerequisite to be self aware and self managed. The term given to this awareness is personal competences. Goleman found in his research that people with high EI score are more successful than the people who have lower EI. The Youngsters who were low on Emotional intelligence were prone to criminology. Hence Goleman has proved EI is a consideration of leadership. The social completeness the most critical for a leader comes from the development of the persona competences. These talk about social awareness and relationship management.

A set of competencies lead to emotional intelligence. These skill set give the power the of understanding the person’s ability, control and monitor his or her emotion efficient and effectively and to read the others and then manage and influence the other emotional state (Caurdon, 1999; Goleman, 1998). Goleman explain it within five dimensions. The following are the set behavioral attributes of the each area.

Self- awareness the key stone of emotional intelligence, it is the ability of any individual to recognize the feeling of him or her and is to make an actual self- assessment and self-confidence.

Self- Management is the art of controlling the disruptive emotions and to controls the impulses. Keep maintain the standards of honesty and integrity, be comfortable with the novel approaches and ideas and take the responsibility of somebody else performance.

Motivation is the ability of a leader to influence the other people to outperform or facilitate towards the common goal. It consists of achievement, commitment, initiative, and optimism.

Empathy word describes how a leader involved in the feelings, perspectives, concern and needs of the other. How a leader understands the problem of follower and rectifies them.

Social Skills are basic to emotional intelligence. They include the persona of a leader his ability to get the desirable response from the others by communicating or presenting his or her viewpoint in a manner that is to be accepted by individuals and societies, inspire the individual and groups, nurturing the relationship, and working towards the common goal by creating group synergy.

Past decade we have seen many leaders having great EI got succeeded in their life. Though it has been a topic of debate among emotional and intelligence which quality is more important for a leader. It can be said these two qualities are not complementary for a leader rather than these are supplementary quality. These work together, because an emotional leader has to be intelligent too or an intelligent leader has to be emotionally intelligent too.


Culture can be defined as knowledge, belief, idea and behavior, shared attitude, values, goal, and practices, custom and ritual performed by any individual and group or societies. The meaning of culture has been changed with the passage of time and from context to context. In early eighteenth and nineteenth century in Europe culture is considered as the improvement in cultivation, in the same way it had various definition with time to time. These points can be said about the culture. (John Story and Michel Fullan)

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A phenomenon wave, which surround us

Culture itself tells us how it is evolved and helps us to understand its creation, development, manipulation and management.

A leadership cannot be defined in isolation without considering the cultural.

To understand and an organization or society it is imperative to understand its culture.

Culture is a combination of customs and rights. Good managers must know and understand the customs and rights. Each organization has their own set of belief and standard referred as culture. As an outsider approach to any organization he needs to understand the culture at first of the organization or society. It Consist of the language, customs’, traditions, standards and values, published and publicly announced values, philosophy, rules in organization, group interaction, thinking pattern, paradigms and shared knowledge for socialization and symbols meanings.

Leader must adopt and suit their style according to situation and culture in which they operate. For example what works in china may or may not be likely to work in Canada or France. One can be effective in Canada by humiliating the departmental store employee but that’s not guarantee that it will be applicable to Japan and India. As different individual needs different treatment based upon their culture. If humiliated employee leave the organization hence it creates more difficulties for a leader as he need to hire another one train him hours and to tell him process and systems and it will take some time for the employee to get acquainted with the new organization.

National Culture affects the leadership style due to that a leader cannot choose their style at their own wish. There are some societal constraints over that. For example in Korea a leader is expected to be caring about their follower while in the Arab a leader is who shows kindness and generosity without being asked is considered by other Arab as week. In Japan leaders are expected to be humble and participative in common forum.

Consisting with the contingency approach, a leader need to adjust their working style according to the aspect the organization, industry and culture in which they operate. For example a manipulative or altercative style is compatible with high power distance, like Russia, Spain, Far East, Latin Countries and Spain. While a participative style is most likely to be associated with culture with low distance like Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Power distance ranking is a good indicator of employee willingness to accept of participative or autocratic leadership. (Globe Project)


No theory or model is able to explain and provide a satisfactory explanation of leadership. Indeed there is no common consensus on the meaning or definition of leadership among all theory and scholars in first place. Most of the theory is extension or improved version of the pervious theory or partial explanation of leadership within itself. Many theories are based on personal or even limited, biased research referring to particular philosophical or ideological points of view. As a researcher get the answer of the question as he or she asks. As per Yuki’s wide-ranging review of the leadership literature in 1989 most of the theories are conceptually weak and lack in strong empirical support. Numbers of empirical studies on leadership has been done but the result are most of the time are contradictory or inconclusive.

A related shortcoming of the current leadership is the separation of tracks like cognitive, emotional, spirituality and behavioral aspects. None of the theories and model has been reviews except servant leadership theory address the spiritual element of people’s life. Some theory is superficial like research by the industrial society in 1996.

Though it’s debatable whether leadership affects the culture or culture affect the leadership, as both are interrelated they cannot run in isolation of each other. A leader cannot be successful if he does not follow the culture norms. Or if the leader is so much powerful then he can spoil the culture and create a new society or culture. But history has proved even the government, king and leader who autocratic and tries to implement their ideas and thought without understanding the demand of society or culture fail to perform. Hence it is very imperative to be any leader to align their leadership style with the culture of particular society and what the time demand.

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