Interest in leadership increased during the early part of the twentieth century. Early leadership theories focused on what qualities distinguished between leaders and followers, while subsequent theories looked at other variables such as situational factors and skill levels. While many different leadership theories have emerged, most can be classified as one of this types:
1. "Great Man" Theories:
Great man theories assume that the capacity for leadership is inherent – that great leaders are born, not made. These theories often portray great leaders as heroic, mythic and destined to rise to leadership when needed. The term "Great Man" was used because, at the time, leadership was thought of primarily as a male quality, especially in terms of military leadership. Learn more about the great man theory of leadership.
2. Trait Theories:
Similar in some ways to "Great Man" theories, trait theories assume that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership. Trait theories often identify particular personality or behavioral characteristics shared by leaders. If particular traits are key features of leadership, then how do we explain people who possess those qualities but are not leaders? This question is one of the difficulties in using trait theories to explain leadership.
3. Contingency Theories:
Contingency theories of leadership focus on particular variables related to the environment that might determine which particular style of leadership is best suited for the situation. According to this theory, no leadership style is best in all situations. Success depends upon a number of variables, including the leadership style, qualities of the followers and aspects of the situation.
4. Situational Theories:
Situational theories propose that leaders choose the best course of action based upon situational variables. Different styles of leadership may be more appropriate for certain types of decision-making.
5. Behavioral Theories:
Behavioral theories of leadership are based upon the belief that great leaders are made, not born. Rooted in behaviorism, this leadership theory focuses on the actions of leaders not on mental qualities or internal states. According to this theory, people can learn to become leaders through teaching and observation.
6. Participative Theories:
Participative leadership theories suggest that the ideal leadership style is one that takes the input of others into account. These leaders encourage participation and contributions from group members and help group members feel more relevant and committed to the decision-making process. In participative theories, however, the leader retains the right to allow the input of others.
7. Management Theories:
Management theories, also known as transactional theories, focus on the role of supervision, organization and group performance. These theories base leadership on a system of rewards and punishments. Managerial theories are often used in business; when employees are successful, they are rewarded; when they fail, they are reprimanded or punished. Learn more about theories of transactional leadership.
8. Relationship Theories:
Relationship theories, also known as transformational theories, focus upon the connections formed between leaders and followers. Transformational leaders motivate and inspire people by helping group members see the importance and higher good of the task. These leaders are focused on the performance of group members, but also want each person to fulfill his or her potential. Leaders with this style often have high ethical and moral standards.
9. Process Theory of Leadership
The Process Theory of leadership, also known as the Reciprocal Theory is based around the Social Change Model of Leadership, Relational Leadership Model, Transformational Leadership and the Servant Leadership Theory. This leadership theory has been around since the nineteen seventies and continues to be used to the present day.
Looking through the Social Change Model of leadership we can infer that leadership, in this case, is a process by which individuals and groups work toward the common goal of improving the quality of life for all. They intend to do this by developing and promoting seven basic values. These seven values include:
-Consciousness of Self: This is where the individual is aware of the values, emotions, attitudes, and beliefs that drive them to action.
-Congruence: The concept of thinking, feeling, and behaving with consistency, genuineness, honesty and authenticity.
-Commitment: Said to be the drive of leaders, linking them to values and respect from others.
-Collaboration: This is the primary means of empowering others through trust.
-Common Purpose: Is to work with shared aims and values.
-Controversy with Civility: This sheds life on differences in viewpoints and the importance of accepting them civilly.
-Citizenship: This is the description of the self respectively connected with the environment and community. Involves individual rights and responsibilities.
This is an inclusive view to leadership, rather than a process. This form of leadership promotes values of equity, social justice, self-knowledge, personal empowerment, citizenship and service. These are all aspects that relate to my everyday life, as I volunteer or engage in helping others around me. The next model of leadership discussed was the Relational Leadership Model, which involves a process. This process illustrates the purpose as being the center, with concepts of inclusion, empowerment and ethics to surround this purpose. A good way to sum this up is with the following statement, “A relational and ethical process of people together attempting to accomplish positive change.” Overviews of the five concepts within this model of leadership are:
1. Inclusive- a sense of we, diverse points
2. Empowering- of others through personal interactions
3. Ethical- makes moral decisions
4. Purposeful- establish a shared vision, commitment
5. Process- the way the group establishes itself.
Along with these principals are the following three dimensions:
· Knowing: Having knowledge and understanding of the principal. (Education, Information, Experience)
· Being: Having attitudes and beliefs related to the principal. (Who you are, Aspiration)
· Doing: Acting in accordance with the principal. (Skills, Action, Techniques)
Each of the theories we have interpreted can evoke pros and cons in any given situation where leadership is being implemented or applied. As we can gather from previous blog posts, it is determined on the effort and ability the leader uses to engage these methods of leadership.