Leadership styles and principles

High School ・Business ・APA

The history of the theory of leadership has been taken from practice and studies. Practicing leaders describe many factors that can make a leader authentic and one that makes things run. Many theories have been developed through the centuries depending on the specific factors that define the effectiveness of the leader. Over the years, with the changing business environment, different factors have been used to determine what an ideal leader is. The first studies conducted made reference to the behavioral characteristics and traits of iconic leaders. The leadership theories have also been affected by the development of methods of management. Therefore, it can be traced from the early 20th century after the scientific management theory was invented by Fredric Taylor. Taylor observed that employees would be more productive if organizations practiced division of labor, training workers to work in specific work projects on a production station. Through his leadership experience, Taylor noted that through timely production processes, this organization maximized production efficiency. As such, he concluded that leaders are born; their personalities and traits contributed to their ability to manage financial and human resources to achieve organizational goals. He concluded that there is only one for leadership based on the observation that leaders could not be taught, trained or made in any theoretical or scientific way.

Following Taylor’s observation, the Trait theory was developed in the early 20th century. This theory was built on the great man approach. This approach concluded that certain men are born to take the lead, especially during a crisis. These men took their “natural places” to help people interpret the causes of the crisis and to develop strategies to save the situation. The limited theory leadership to only individuals who had the leadership traits. Continuous studies on this theory resulted in the creation of the following list detailing the expected traits and skills of a leader under the trait theory. A leader;

  1. Has an internal drive for taking up responsibilities and completing tasks.

  2. Express vigor and is persistence when pursuing goals

  3. Express a sense of originality when solving problems.

  4. Shows a drive to take the initiative in a social set up.

  5. Is self-confident and has a strong personality identity

  6. Expresses the willingness to deal with the consequences of the decisions and courses of actions taken under his leadership.

  7. Can take stress resulting from interpersonal relationships.

  8. Expresses patience with delay and frustration when cashing objectives.

  9. Has a great influence on the people’s behaviors.

  10. Can structure interactions to suit the characteristics required to pursue a situation at hand.

Max Weber is the other great contributor to the development of management and leadership theories. He introduced the concept of charismatic authority and from it developed the charismatic leadership. According to Weber, leaders have a special characteristic that gives them recognizable characteristics and makes them exceptional resulting to being treated as a leader. Based this approach to leadership, a leader is seen to have self-confidence, ability to influence others and has a strong sense of moral values.

Observing both the trait and the charismatic theories of leadership, Lewin concluded that there are about three styles of leadership. He noted that irrespective of whether a leader was regarded one based on his traits or based on his charismatic approach, in an organizational setup, he was autocratic, democratic or laissez-faire. The autocratic style is dictating, and the leader is seen to make all the decisions solely. There are no consultations whatsoever, and the employees are expected to adhere to the instructions given. The democratic style is characterized by a collective force where the leader includes the employees in the problem solving and decision-making process. The Laisse Faire leadership is employee oriented. The leadership is just symbolic and has little influence on the way decisions are made or implemented.

From these leadership studies, other recent theories have been developed and used over the years. Some of these include the contingency, expectancy, path-goal and the social identity theories.

The contingency leadership theory

After observing the Taylors theory, Fred Fiedler criticized that business situation was unpredictable and thus required varying approach of leadership. He ruled out the Taylor theory that there is only one style of management that could be used for all situations. According to Fred, the contingency theory can be used to match good leadership to the business assignment that they can manage. The theory emphasizes the need first to determine the situation and then to determine the most suitable leadership style to use. He observed that leadership styles are created based on the leader's motive. For example, it depends on whether the leader is motivated to complete tasks or to build lasting interrelationships among the team members.

Fred developed the Contingency Model that can be used by leaders to determine the most appropriate approach to deal with a management situation. First, a scale is used to determine the team’s relationships. The leader is required to recognize a team player he has least enjoyed to work with and then on a scale of 1-8, rate how he feels about the team member identified. Some of these feelings include friendliness, tension, corporation, support, sincerity, kindness, etc. The scores will define the leader as either task or relationship oriented. High scores indicate that the leader is relationship oriented while a low score indicates that the leader is task oriented.

Using such information, in an organization, the executive can select supervisors and middle managers depending on the specific orientation they are looking for. The situational favorableness is described using three factors. These are; leader-member relations, task structure, and leader's position power. This theory is also effective in determining the organization relationships. The situational description and the leader’s orientation, the kinds of employer-employee relationship can be established.

The Expectancy Leadership theory

The expectancy leadership theory is based on the employees’ rational aspects concerning motivation and the organizational factors that affect productivity. It holds on to three observations;

  1. Employees require leadership that helps them reflect on the group organizational goals. The leadership must also provide the support required to ensure that the team members get along well since this is the only way to ensure that they unanimously pursue the same goals.

  2. The employees’ perceptions contribute to establishing a productivity behavior that is useful and effective in attaining the organizational goals.

  3. Any restraining factors that the employees encounter when following the established path may be attributed to the leadership. As such, leadership must be positioned to correct any factors that may be causing the restrain.

The Path-Goal Leadership Theory

This theory of leadership was developed in the early 1970s by Martin Evans and Robert House. Based on the Victor Vroom’s Expectancy Theory, Robert and Evans built the theory based on the assumption that the employees are self-motivated if they believe that they can complete a given task . Based on this theory, self-efficacy of the employees is crucial to ensuring that they work as expected. Also, the productivity of the employee is likely to increase if they believe that their efforts will achieve a specific outcome an reward and that the worthwhile reward will be worth their efforts.

The theory emphasizes on a relation between the style of the leader, the employees’ personalities and characteristics and the working environment. Accordingly, leaders have the tendency to be supportive, directive, participative and achievement-oriented. These behaviors are crucial to enhancing continuous improvement and in setting high organizational standards.

The leadership, according to this theory, is responsible for the organizational relationships and is more effective if:

  1. The leadership establishes distinctive paths to achieving the set goals through providing direction and coaching the employees.

  2. The leader progressively increases the employee’s payoffs

  3. The leadership is effective in making the work satisfying.

  4. The leadership can remove any obstacles that may limit the employees’ ability to achieve the set goals.

The Social Identity Leadership Theory

The social entity approach describes leadership as a process that involves a group to generate social categorization for depersonalized processes. Within an identical group, a self-categorization is developed for each and an intragroup gradient is created to distinguish the member with the highest influence on the others. With a depersonalized social attraction, the makes followers to comply with the leader's suggestions. To be identified as a leader, the theory emphasizes on some factors that the leader must exhibit. These are;

  1. Sacrifice: since the theory requires a prototype form of behavior, the leader can make a sacrifice through breaking one of the prototypes for the good of the group and as such remain favorable. Such sacrifices can be seen from a leader's ability to forego their interests to retain good relations and to improve a social identity rather than a self-identity.

  2. Clarity, certainty, and closure: a social identity leader is effective in embracing individuals’ need for closure. The leader stands up to provide clarity and certainty as pertains to what the individual wants to do. The identical social leadership embodies the organization and as such is expected to create a recognizable difference with the competing organizations. By providing clarity, the employees and the followers are thus equipped with all that they need to complete their duties.

  3. Intra-group context: An inspirational leadership is more preferred in a social group, and therefore a leader is regarded to be persuasive and visionary. With a social identity, the group does not necessarily expect the leader to share everyone's ideas but must be an inspiration.

This leadership view is, therefore, crucial to establishing group relationships especially because all those involved are concerned about the social identity of the group. In an organization, the employees view their leader as the icon, and therefore they work under him to achieve organizational goals.

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