Contingency Theories of Leadership

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Report on the Contingency Theories of Leadership

Executive Summary

This report presents an overview of the Contingency theories of Leadership over time and their relevance to the study of Management and Leadership in organizations. The report opens with a general definition of leadership and then tracks the evolution of leadership theories over the past 70 year, concentrating on the contingency theories of leadership. Each of these offers some insights into the qualities of successful leaders, with respect to generic characteristics and behaviours of an individual to the recognition of the importance of responding to different situations and circumstances and the role of the leader in relation to followers. The report concludes with the notion that due to a number of factors, there may not be just One Best Way to lead. The changing nature of work and society demands new approaches that encourage a more collective and evolving outlook on leadership.

Definition of Leadership
Broadly defined, leadership is the ability to influence a group of people, and leading them to the attainment of a common goal. A leader is generally someone with authority and confidence, and the ability to motivate the group and in turn inspire trust and respect.

Leadership and Leaders
Leadership is what leaders do. The word ‘authority’, used in the definition of leadership is the basis of all research done on leadership with respect to business management. Although there may be some people who do not hold a formal position of authority in an organization, they still might be able to influence people as mentioned above.

Importance of Leadership in Organizations:
There is a reason why most businesses are organised with a “boss” or various layers of authority and leadership – this is the model which produces the most effective and efficient system for generating productivity and profitability. Leadership is vital for both in building the strength and power of the organisation and in helping to manage relationships and resources. The employees need leadership to show them direction, motivate and inspire them to perform at their best and control or discourage any actions which may be damaging to the business as a whole; whilst the customers and clients need leadership to inspire trust and confidence in the business’s products or services. Leadership is also important in ensuring the smooth running of the organisation as a whole – to ensure that employees are financially compensated in a fair and timely manner and that stockholders are satisfied with their investment. The workplace is a team environment and nowhere else is leadership so important. Note, however, that leaders do not necessarily have to be the person with formal authority – many of those in an official position of authority are simply managing and not leading. Studies show that 80% of problems experienced in any organisation are people-related so good leadership always benefits the organisation as a whole. With good leadership, team members will feel valued and an integral part of the development of the organisation – this invariably leads to greater benefits for the business.

Studies show that with good leadership, employees have:
* More personal satisfaction with work and personal life
* Greater ownership is transferred to the people doing the work * Expanded skills and competencies

Whilst for the business or organisation as a whole, there is: * More strategy in addition to operations roles
* More qualified and developed people
* More qualified, stronger leaders coming through the "ranks" (future leader development)

Managers as Leaders
Ideally speaking, all managers should be leaders. Realistically, however, this may not always be the case. To elaborate, it is important to first understand how management and leadership differ from one another. "There is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are...
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