Leadership Theories and Principles

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I. Introduction

Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training and experience.

II. Body/Content

Leadership theories have emerged through the centuries. They focus on the qualities distinguished between leaders and followers. Others looked at other factors such as situations and skill levels. There are eight major theories of leadership. First, the Great Man theories which 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. Second, Trait Theories, similar in some ways to "Great Man" theories, trait theories assume 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. Third is Contingency Theories 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. Fourth is Situational theories propose that leaders choose the best course of action based upon situational variables. Different styles of leadership may be more appropriate for certain types of decision-making. Fifth is Behavioral theories of leadership are based upon the belief that great leaders are made, not born. Rooted in...
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