Theories of Leadership

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Leadership can be defined as a process by which one individual influences others toward the attainment of group or organizational goals. According to Harold Koontz and Heinz Weihrich, “Leadership is the art or process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically so towards the achievement of group goals.”

Leadership as a concept has been widely and extensively discussed by various experts, professors and authors. All these researches and discussions have given rise to various Leadership Theories. A review of the leadership literature reveal has given rise to various theories like “The Charismatic Theory”, “The Trait Theory”, “The Behavioural Theory”. . A basic introduction of the various theories is been given in the table below. Leadership TheoryTime of IntroductionMajor Tenets

Charismatic Leadership1920s and 1970s and 1980sEffective leaders inspire subordinates to commit themselves to goals by communicating a vision, displaying charismatic behaviour, and setting a powerful personal example. Trait Theories1930sIndividual characteristics of leaders are different than those of non leaders. Behavioural Theories1940s and 1950sThe behaviours of effective leaders are different than the behaviours of ineffective leaders. Two major classes of leader behaviour are task-oriented behaviour and relationship-oriented behaviour.


Charismatic leadership is leadership based on the leader's ability to communicate and behave in ways that reach followers on a basic, emotional way, to inspire and motivate. This theory deals with the charismatic ability of the leader. This theory believes that a leader has some kind of charisma which acts as the influencer According to this theory ‘A Leader is born and is not made’. This theory is also called the “Great Man Theory”. The origin of the theory can be...
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