Models of Leadership
Leadership has been present since the beginning of time. Whether in the home, social groups or in the workplace leadership plays a key role in our daily lives. But before a clear discussion of leadership can effectively be done, a reasonable understanding of leadership must be presented. William Cohen (1990) defines leadership as "the art of influencing others to their maximum performance to accomplish any task, objective, or project” (Weiskittel, 1999). This comparison will illustrate to the reader the striking similarities in various forms of leadership throughout history as well as clear points of convergence and divergence within the various forms. Leadership is a dynamic enterprise that will continue to evolve over time; as it has thus far.
Often when leadership is studied in the Pre-classical era, ideas such as heroism and yes or no logic are often assumed and discussed. Heroism is the concept of a virtuous and ethical person who is able to effectively lead people to a desired goal or objective. Often, as portrayed in historical literature, these heroes are fallible. The yes or no logic is based upon the Greek philosophers of the time. This ideal suggests that truth is fixed and unchanging; this type of reasoning did not take into consideration the dynamic nature of a group or subordinates or their leader and the intrinsic ability to make changes in order to
improve the situation at hand. Moreover, the Pre-Classical era held much more in terms of leadership then the two types of leadership often associated with that time period. This period of time was a type of growth spurt for leadership. Around the world various forms of leadership were being utilized; although most had yet to be studied. For example, things such as regulated wages, merit exams and division of labor all took place during the Pre-Classical era (Wren, 2005). This does not negate, however the autocratic systems of the times as well as leadership based on birthright. The overall tendency of the Pre-Classical era is the generality of yes or no and autocratic societies; especially in western cultures. However as empires and dynasty’s grew, so did the demand for more effective leadership.
Machiavelli in the Classical era focused on the unilateral dispensation of power and leadership (Harrison 1999). To disperse leadership over a broad group and then to lead the mass as a whole. This is evident in many working examples of the time period such as the Catholic Church, the Roman Empire, and the Chinese Dynasty. This appears to be in direct contrast with the autocratic feel of the Pre-Classical era. The Classical period did still contain some autocratic and yes or no logic type of leadership; nevertheless those in power were providing the foundation for change. As we move through history and into the Classical era there is an observable change in the overall leadership of the time.
This time period is reflected by the beginnings of division of labor. For example the Catholic church, a global presence at the time, began delegating the responsibilities within the church to a hierarchy of leaders.
The focus on each person solely working on the task assigned is studied during this time and is found to be a constructive means by which productivity is increased. Solid leadership begins to take shape, and is studied more readily. Aristotle stated “He who has not learned to obey can not be a good commander” (Wren p. 19). This type of reasoning shows a subtle shift in the thought processes regarding leadership. There is a distinct difference between the notion of the yes or no logic of the Pre-classical era and the beginnings of transactional and transformational leadership in the Classical era.
Transactional leadership is based out of a need for information. There is little humanness associated with transactional leadership; it is simply I will give you A if you give me B; A...
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