The dynamics of leadership-follower relationships has grown in the last two decades because of a growing discussion in leadership literature (Popper & Mayseless, 2002) as cited in Avolio. Many companies, which were small 20 years ago have emerged as leaders in the market, overtaking their once larger competitors. These firms internally have revamped the way they do business. They have focused on making changes to their managerial process, thereby creating a competitive advantage (Tichy & Devanna, 1990). The authors go on to say that although traditional managerial skills are important they are not sufficient to bring about organizational transformation. Transformational change will come by incorporating new strategies about people and the structure of the firm. These strategies may include leadership models or theories. A number of leadership models or theories exist, which address change in the way a firm addresses the management of its employees. The contingency view of leadership states there is not a particular model of leadership that is better than another, but rather various situational contingencies determine the success of different types and styles of leadership (Nahavandi, 2006). Of the many number of leadership models four are notable for change. These four consist of trait theory, behavioral theory, charismatic approach to leadership, and the cognitive resource model. A discussion of how each model addresses contemporary leadership issues and challenges follows. The trait approach to leadership has been referred to as the “Great Man” approach, which includes identifying specific traits a person exhibits. Those traits would be used to identify that person as either a potential leader or as a follower. Researchers have spent considerable time attempting to identify traits that would help to identify leaders from followers. Clawson (2006) states that whereas there have been many researchers studying leadership traits only a few have emerged as common among effective leaders. According to (Stogdill, 1981) an effective leader adapts to situations, is alert to social environment, ambitious and achievement oriented, assertive, cooperative, decisive, dependable, has a high energy level, self-confident, tolerant of stress, persistent, and willing to accept responsibility. Maccoby (1981) narrowed the scope to four main character traits, which are: craft, enterprise, career, and self. He went on to describe both negative and positive aspects of each trait. The positive for each are as follows: Craft – independent and hardworking
Enterprise – daring and entrepreneurial
Career - professional and meritocratic
Self - experimental and self-developing
He stated that most of all an effective leader is caring, flexible, and willing to share power. He also indicated there is a negative side of each trait.
Craft - Suspicious and inflexible
Enterprise - uncaring and instrumental
Career - Fearful and bureaucratic
Self - Escapist and rebellious
John Gardner and Jim Collins have also researched and written about traits of leaders. Although each researcher has a slightly different bent, they basically describe the same traits using different terms. Callan (2003) stated that the Environmentalists of the 18th and 19th century believed that “Great Man” is only an expression of the needs of the time and if one man could not meet the need, then another would rise up and meet the need. She went on to state that others believe that the personalities of superior men would arise to meet the need.
The behavior approach to leadership became prominent in the 1950s because researchers began to see inconsistencies in the trait approach. They began to observe leaders while they were on the job (Clawson, 2006). Researchers determined there were behavioral differences between effective and ineffective leaders. Kotter (1990)...
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