Leaders and Leadership

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Leaders and Leadership
What is leadership? Leadership is a special form of power, one that involves the ability, based on the personal qualities of the leader, to elicit the followers’ voluntary compliance in a broad range of matters. Leadership is distinguished from the concept of power in that it entails influence, that is, change of preferences, while power implies only that subjects’ preferences are held in abeyance (Etzioni, 1965). There are two approaches that we are going to discuss in this paper, the leader trait approach and the leader behavior approach. Leadership trait theory is the idea that people are born with certain character traits. Since certain traits are associated with proficient leadership, it assumes that if you could identify people with the correct traits you will be able to identify leaders. Most of the time the traits are considered to be naturally part of a person’s personality from birth. From this standpoint leadership trait theory tends to assume the people are born as leaders or not as leaders (Leadership Trait Theory, 2007). The leader behavior approach involves either consideration or initiating structure. Consideration is a behavior indicating that a leader trusts, respects, and values good relationships with his or her followers while initiating structure is a behavior that a leader engages in to make sure that work gets done and subordinates perform their jobs acceptably (Leader-Behavior Approach, 2011). In addition to consideration and initiating structure, leaders use reinforcement and punishment to affect the behavior of followers. Reinforcement on one hand can increase desirable behavior while punishment can decrease undesirable behavior. Fiedler’s Contingency Theory

One of the most popular approaches to understanding leadership is the Fiedler’s contingency theory of leadership which focuses on two main issues; why would a leader be more effective than another in a particular situation knowing that both have the same qualities and why is a leader effective in one situation but not in another? The Fiedler contingency model is a leadership theory of industrial and organizational psychology developed by Fred Fiedler. Fiedler’s contingency model postulates that the leader’s effectiveness is based on situational contingency which is a result of interaction of two factors: leadership style and situational favorableness (Fiedler Contingency Model, 2011). Fiedler came up with a scale to measure leader style and it was called the least preferred co-worker or LPC which is an instrument for measuring an individual’s leadership orientation. The LPC scale asks a leader to think of all the people with whom they have ever worked and then describe the person, with whom they have worked least well, using a scale of 1 to 8. As for the situational favorableness, Fiedler suggested that there is no ideal leader and leaders can be effective if their leadership orientation fits the situation. The contingency theory allows for predicting the characteristics of the appropriate situations for effectiveness. Three situational components determine the favorableness of situational control: Leader-member relations, task structure, and leader position power. Leader-Member relations refer to the degree of mutual trust, respect and confidence between the leader and the subordinates. Task Structure refers to the extent to which group tasks are clear and structured and leader position power refers to the power inherent in the leader's position itself (Fiedler Contingency Model, 2011). Contemporary Perspectives on Leadership

There are several newer approaches to leadership that have been proposed in recent years, they are based on a contingency approach where it considers the characteristics of the leader and the situation they are trying to lead. Some of these theories are: Path-goal theory, the vroom and yetton model, and leader-member exchange theory.

Path-Goal Theory. The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership was...
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