Leadership Theories and Analysis

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What is leadership?

Leadership is "the behaviour of an individual when he is directing the activities of a group towards a shared goal". (Hemphill and Coons, 1957, p.7)

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. To really comprehend the "territory" of leadership, one 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.

There are many leadership theories. Arthur G. Jago (1982) proposed a framework that organizes leadership theories based on each theory's focus and approach.

"Focus" refers to whether leadership is viewed as a set of traits or as a set of actions. Focus on Traits: Theories with such a focus see leaders as having certain innate or inherent personality traits that distinguish them from non-leaders. These personality traits are supposed to be relatively stable and enduring. Focus on Behaviour: Theories with this type of focus see leadership as observable actions of the leader instead of personality traits.

"Approach" is concerned with whether a particular theory or model of leadership takes a universal or a contingent perspective. Universal Approach: This approach believes that there is a universal formula of traits or behaviour for an effective leader. In other words, the universal approach assumes that there is "one best way" to lead in all situations. Contingent Approach: Contrary to the universal approach, the contingent approach does not believe the "one best way" formula. It believes that effective leadership depends on the specific situation.

I am going to analyse two theories in detail, which according to me appear contradictory are Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid Theory (1978) under the head behaviour theories and Fiedler's Contingency theories under the head contingencies theory.

Behavioural Theories

For over 20 years, a major thrust in leadership research has focused on the various behavioural patterns or styles used by different leaders and the functions fulfilled by these individuals. This research examined the impact that leadership behaviour had on the performance and satisfaction of followers. From these studies, two dimensions of leadership behaviour emerged.

Consideration: Consideration, also known as employee-centred behaviour, refers to leadership behaviour that is aimed at meeting the social and emotional needs of individuals and group members.

Initiating structure: Initiating structure, also known as job-oriented behaviour, refers to leadership behaviour that is aimed at careful supervision of employee work methods and performance levels.

Some research indicates that those leaders that were high in consideration would be more effective than those who were high in initiating structure, particularly in regard to maintaining employee satisfaction and performance and reducing turnover and absenteeism. Subsequent research argued that being high in both dimensions was necessary for effective leadership.

As the early researchers ran out of steam in their search for traits, they turned to what leaders did - how they behaved (especially towards followers). They moved from leaders to leadership - and this became the dominant way of approaching leadership within organizations in the 1950s and early 1960s. Different patterns of behaviour were grouped together and labelled as styles. This became a very popular activity within management training – perhaps the best known being Blake and Mouton's Managerial Grid (1964; 1978). Various schemes appeared, designed to diagnose and develop people's style of working. Despite different names, the basic ideas were very similar. The four main styles that appear are:

Concern for task / production. Here leaders emphasize the achievement of concrete...
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