Comparing Theories of Leadership and Management
Theories of leadership and management first came about in the early 1900’s. These early theories were characterized by focus on individual traits and behaviors of successful leaders while later theories examined situational context and the role of followers or subordinates in the success of a leader. Here, I will examine and compare two theories of leadership and management - one from an earlier point in history and one that came about more recently in an attempt to showcase similarities and differences between the who and how each relates to my own personal style of management.
The first theory I will examine and one of the earlier theories on leadership and management is the Trait Theory. This theory is derived from the “Great Man” theory which according to Bolden, Gosling, Marturano & Dennison (2003), suggests that leaders are born with exceptional, innate qualities and are destined to lead. The idea of the “Great Man” theory came from looking at great leaders from the past and determining that the reason they became great leaders was because they possessed something about them that was not common in the average person. The trait theory expanded on this idea of an unknown “it” factor in great leaders by identifying and listing those qualities or traits of an effective leader to determine a person’s likelihood of success or failure as a leader.
The core traits identified with the Trait Theory include the following (“Trait Theory of Leadership,” 2013): Achievement Drive – high levels of effort, ambition, energy and initiative Leadership Motivation – desire to lead others to reach shared goals Honesty and Integrity – high levels of openness, reliability and trustworthiness Self-Confidence – belief in one’s self, ideas and abilities Cognitive Ability – Capable of exercising good judgment, strong analytical skills and conceptually skilled. Knowledge of Business – Knowledge of the industry and other technical matters Emotional Maturity – well adjusted and lacking of severe psychological disorders Others – Charisma, creativity and flexibility
Because the Trait Theory focuses on most of the positive attributes within an individual, it can be applied to all people in all levels of positions within an organization (“Trait Theory of Leadership,” 2013). Managers can use the trait theory to help identify areas of strengths and weakness in themselves or potential leadership candidates. One of the major challenges with the trait theory, however, is that it does not distinguish a level of importance of one trait verses another.
Personally, I find using the trait theory to help identify areas of weakness in subordinates and myself to be its most beneficial application. While I do believe to an extent that some people are just “natural leaders”, either through something genetic or as something that was developed in early life, I also believe that someone can develop these leadership traits over time to become a successful leader. However, to develop those traits they must exist to a certain extent in the first place and if those traits are not already available developing them to a level they would need to be at would be almost impossible.
In a previous position at another company, part of my annual performance review went into how I exemplified these and similar traits. The reasoning for this being part of my review was that certain traits were seen by the company as desirable in all employees and the top performing employees should excel in all traits as they relate to their job. The goal of the review was to share with me what my strengths and weakness were so I could work on those throughout the year through the coaching of my supervisor and company leadership or any miscellaneous outside training. I found this to be extremely helpful in becoming a better leader and well rounded as often times my own perception of my strengths and...
Cited: Bolden, R., Gosling, J., Marturano, A. & Dennison, P. (June, 2003) A Review of Leadership
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Trait Theory of Leadership. (n.d.) Retrieved December 2, 2013 from
Transformational Leadership Theory. (n.d). Retrieved December 2, 2013, from
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