Leadership Theories

Topics: Leadership, Charismatic authority, Situational leadership theory Pages: 14 (3809 words) Published: October 31, 2008

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” Dwight D Eisenhower

Leadership is one of those things that are often awfully hard to define but you know when you see it, and you definitely know when it is missing. Leadership is a process that is ultimately concerned with fostering change. In contrast to the notion of management, which suggests preservation and maintenance, leadership implies a process where there is movement-from wherever we are now to some future place of condition that is different. Leadership is not something we do, it is something we are. Leadership also implies intentionality, in the sense that the implied change is not random-“change for change’s sake”- but is rather directed toward some future end or condition, which is inherently value-based. A traditional definition of leadership: Leadership is an interpersonal influence directed toward the achievement of a goal or goals. Three important parts of this definition are the terms interpersonal, influence, and goal. • Interpersonal means between persons. Thus, a leader has more than one person (group) to lead. • Influence is the power to affect others.

• Goal is the end one strives to attain.
Basically, this traditional definition of leadership says that a leader influences more than one person toward a goal. Consistent with the notion that leadership is concerned with change, we view the “leader” basically as a change agent-one who fosters change. Leaders, then, are not necessarily those who merely hold formal “leadership” positions; on the contrary, all people are potential leaders. Furthermore, since the concept of leadership and leader implied that there are other people involved; leadership is, by definition, a collective or group process. In short our conception of leadership comprises the following basic assumptions: •Leadership is concerned with fostering change

Leadership is inherently value-based
All people are potential leaders
Leadership is a group process

Ideas about leadership has changed considerably in recent times, people are more educated and articulate. People can also no longer be commanded in the same way as before, more participation and involvement is needed form everyone involved in an organisation. In order to achieve this, managers should be seen more as leaders instead of managers. Everywhere it is acknowledged that more and better leadership is needed at all levels of the organization.

Leadership is both a social and a cultural phenomenon. A person who is considered as being a good leader in Japan might be seen as being too authoritarian in Sweden, and the charisma of an Egyptian leader might have no effect at all on people in France or Germany. To have a good understanding of leadership it is essential that the cultural context in which the leadership takes place is also understood.

Leadership development theories over the past century
The roots of the modern leadership can be traced back to the industrial revolution that took place at the end of the 19th century. There are three definite development eras of leadership that can be identified: •Trait era: 1800-mid 1940’s

Behavior Era: 1940-1970’s
Contingency Era: Early 1960’s till present
Each of these eras made a distinct contribution to our modern understanding of leadership.

The Trait Era

The theory that leaders are born and not made dominated the early part of the 20th century. It was believed that heredity formed an integral part in the development of a leader; it was believed that innate qualities shape human personality and behaviour. The early research efforts into leadership focused on traits as being essential to leader effectiveness. Traits can be classified as distinguishing personal characteristics of a leader such as intelligence, honesty,...
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