Leadership theory

Leadership Theories

There are a number of theories which provide explanations regarding various aspects of leadership phenomenon. Here, we are discussing some of the important theories only.

Trait Theory

This is the earliest theory as described by Kelly attempting to classify what personal characteristics like physical, personality and mental, are associated with leadership success. Illustrated traits which researchers attributed toleaders were such aspects as height, weight, physique, good health, high level of energy, good appearance, intelligence,scholarship, good judgement and decision-making, insight, originality, dominance, persistence, self-confidence,imbition, and so on. Since all individuals did not have these qualities, only those who possess them would be considered potential leaders.

However, trait theory suffers from the following limitations:

1. The trait theory is not accepted as a valid theory.

2. There is no consistent set of traits emerged from research studies that successful differentiated leaders from non-leaders.

3.It is difficult to measure many of these traits. Hence,it is not always possible to distinguish between leaders and followers.These limitations made researchers to give up the study of traits to understand leadership and started to focus their efforts on observing the behaviours of leaders. Hence, the behavioural theories of leadership came into existence.

Behavioural Theories

According to the behavioural theories of leadership,leadership can be described in terms of what leaders do rather than what they are. In other words, leadership can be
identified by reference to their behaviour in relation to the on the basis of research studies.followers.

Behavioural theories have been presented mostly Behavioural theories differ from the trait theories in at least two ways. First, actual leader behaviours, not the personal traits were the main focus. Second, while most trait theories endeavoured to distinguish between leaders and non-leaders, behavioural theories attempted to determine how different kinds of behaviours affect the performance and satisfaction of the followers. The two important behavioural theories are Ohio State.University studies and the studies of Michigan University.

Fiedler’s Contingency Model

According to the contingency theories of leadership,the success of leadership depends upon the situation in which the leader operates. Fred E. Fiedler developed a contingency model of leadership. According to him, a leader’s effectiveness depends upon the following three situational factors:

1. Leader-followers relations, that is the degree of followers’ trust, confidence and respect for the leader.

2 Task structure, that is the nature of task performed by the subordinates.

3. The status power, that is the degree of power associated with the position or status held by the leader in the organisation

The most favourable situation for leaders to influence their group is one in which they are well liked by the.members, the task performed is highly structured and the leader has enough power attached to his/her position in the organisation. On the other hand, the most unfavourable situation for leaders is one in which they are disliked, the task is highly unstructured and little power is attached to the leader’s position.

Path-goal Leadership Theory

Robert House has developed a path-goal theory of leadership initially presented by Martin Evans. This theory is based on the expectancy theory of motivation. The theory states that leaders can exercise four different kinds of styles directive leadership (giving directions to the subordinates rather than seeking their cooperation), supportive leadership (being friendly and approachable to subordinates),participative leadership (asking for suggestions from subordinates before making decisions), and achievement-oriented leadership (setting challenging goals and assignments for subordinates). The path-goal theory postulates that leaders become effective due to their influence on followers motivation, ability to perform, and their satisfaction. Leader motivates the employees by influencing their expectancies relating to the performance and attractiveness of goal. The subordinates feel satisfied when they believe that their job performance will lead to desirable outcomes. They will be able to achieve their goals with hard work.

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