Many people today are seeking to understand -- and many people are writing about -- the concept and practices of leadership. There are a great many reasons for the popularity of the topic, including that organizations are faced with changes like never before. The concept of leadership is relevant to any aspect of ensuring effectiveness in organizations and in managing change. There has been an explosion of literature about leadership lately. Leading is a very human activity -- we're all human -- so there are many people who consider themselves experts on leadership. Unfortunately, many people make strong assertions about leadership without ever really understanding a great deal about leadership. Understanding the concept of leadership requires more than reading a few articles or fantasizing about what great leaders should be. What is Leadership?
Many people believe that leadership is simply being the first, biggest or most powerful. Leadership in organizations has a different and more meaningful definition. “Very simply put, a leader is interpreted as someone who sets direction in an effort and influences people to follow that direction”. How they set that direction and influence people depends on a variety of factors that we'll consider later on below. To really comprehend the "territory" of leadership, you should briefly scan some of the major theories, notice various styles of leadership and review some of the suggested traits and characteristics that leaders should have. The rest of this library should help you in this regard. Theories about Leadership
There are also numerous theories about leadership, or about carrying out the role of leader, e.g., servant leader, democratic leader, principle-centered leader, group-man theory, great-man theory, traits theory, visionary leader, total leader, situational leader, etc. The following article provides brief overview of key theories. 1. “Great Man” Theories:
Great Man theories assume that the capacity for leadership is inherent – that great leaders are born, not made. These theories often portray great leaders as heroic, mythic, and destined to rise to leadership when needed. The term “Great Man” was used because, at the time, leadership was thought of primarily as a male quality, especially in terms of military leadership. 2. Trait Theories:
Similar in some ways to “Great Man” theories, trait theory assumes that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership. Trait theories often identify particular personality or behavioral characteristics shared by leaders. But if particular traits are key features of leadership, how do we explain people who possess those qualities but are not leaders? This question is one of the difficulties in using trait theories to explain leadership. 3. Contingency Theories:
Contingency theories of leadership focus on particular variables related to the environment that might determine which particular style of leadership is best suited for the situation. According to this theory, no leadership style is best in all situations. Success depends upon a number of variables, including the leadership style, qualities of the followers, and aspects of the situation. 4. Situational Theories:
Situational theories propose that leaders choose the best course of action based upon situational variable. Different styles of leadership may be more appropriate for certain types of decision-making. 5. Behavioral Theories:
Behavioral theories of leadership are based upon the belief that great leaders are made, not born. Rooted in behaviorism, this leadership theory focuses on the actions of leaders, not on mental qualities or internal states. According to this theory, people can learn to...