Leadership and High Performance Teams

Topics: Leadership, Management, Skill Pages: 7 (1273 words) Published: January 1, 2011
SuperLeadership-The Next Mark in Leadership


Over the years Leadership is an extensively studied subject. Yet as the techno-socioeconomic systems change, and new challenges are thrown up, everyone looks towards leadership. Though leadership is well studied with no conclusive results, leadership in the contemporary concept of team is perhaps not so well studied.


The objective of this presentation is to define leadership as a process in the contemporary environment of self managed high performance teams and be aware of the variables that affect it.

Conventional Historic Theories

In 1926, the trait or attribute theory was propounded by Bernard (Bernard, 1926). Simply put it suggests that leaders are born and not made.

In mid 50s, Hempil & Coons suggested that leadership depends on the way one behaves. Behavioral theory was later supported by Shepherd and Mouton in 1964 and Saal and Knight in 1988.

In the meanwhile Fielder’s work in 1967 suggested that trait, behavior and situation interacts to explain leadership. This third approach made it possible to select the right leader for the right situation. This approach is called contingency approach. Path-Goal theory (a contingency approach) of Mictchel 1974 is also a contingency model as it discusses leadership as a way of making the followers reach the goal. In 1973, Vroom suggested that the way the leader gets the followers involved in decision making is based on the circumstances and further strengthened the idea of contingency theory.

Conventional Contemporary Theories

In 1976, Graen, proposed the Dyad linkage theory which explained the nature of relation between the leader and the followers and how the leader had different relation with the in-group and out-group.

In 1978, Burns propounded the transaction theory which explained many of the roles of a manager such as coordination which a leader also do.

In 1985, Bass explained the transformational role of a leader while Schein explained the role of culture in leadership. There was an underlying theme. The work of Schein highlighted the role of leader to create change in culture while the transformational leadership of Bass was essentially the leader creating fundamental change.

Leadership as a Process

In 1990, Gardner held that “leadership is accomplishment of the group purpose, which is furthered not only by effective leaders but also by innovators, entrepreneurs and thinkers, by the availability of resources, by questions of value and social cohesion”. This definition the phenomenon of leadership was made broader and challenged the idea that leadership exists within a single person and a situation. He posits leadership as moving towards and achieving group goals, not necessarily because of the work of a single individual but because of the work of multiple members of the group. This implied that in addition the one who sets the direction and move the group forward, it involves contribution of other great thinkers, doers, access to right resources and social composition of the group.

In 1991, Manz and Sims took the idea of Gardner forward and challenged the traditional paradigm of one person doing something for the other people. They suggested that the most appropriate leader is one who can lead others to lead themselves and called this SuperLeadership. In his view, leadership exists in every person and is not confined to the limits of formally appointed leaders. They suggest that for leaders to be successful they should succeed in each individual leading himself or herself. Leaders become great (or rather leaders) by unleashing the potential and abilities of the followers, consequently having the knowledge of many people instead of relying solely on their own skills and abilities.

In 1994, Hogan and Curphy highlighted that the leadership models have been designed for the typical American worker, a male with a high school education working in...
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