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8 Theories of Leadership

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Most of the people wonder what exactly is that which makes leaders excel in their roles? Theories of leadership helps in understanding how and why people become leaders and what are the 7 qualities of a good leader. These theories seek to explain the characteristics of leaders and the behaviors that can be adopted by the leaders to enhance their leadership qualities.

Many of the theories have proposed that some people are born as leaders i.e. they simply possess the abilities and the skills by birth. On the other hand, some recent theories have proposed that experience and situational variables also have a major role to play.

Let’s take a closer look at various theories of leadership

Numerous theories of leadership have been introduced as people’s interest in the psychology of leadership over the last 100 years have increased.

Throughout the history of the mankind, people have been interested in leadership. Recently number of formal leadership theories have evolved.

Leadership theories emerged in the earlier years concentrated on the distinction between followers and the leaders. On the other hand, many succeeding theories, considered other variables also like skills and situational factors.

Following are some of the major theories of leadership:

  1. Trait Theories

In trait theories, an assumption is drawn that there are some inherited traits in the people that helps them in making them suitable for their roles. The personality and the behavioral characteristics of the leaders are often identified by the trait theories. For instance, qualities like extroversion, courage and self- confidence are the traits that can be connected to great leaders.

  1. Great Man Theories

According to this theory, certain persons are born with some traits like confidence, intelligence, charisma and social skills which help them in becoming natural- born leaders.

Great man theories undertake that great leaders are not made, they are born. According to these theories, leaders are portrayed as epic, heroic and predestined to rise as a leader. On the basis of military leadership, leadership was mainly thought as a male quality. According to such theories, people cannot learn to become great leaders. It is merely a quality that someone is either born with or without it.

  1. Contingency Theories

These theories assume that none of the leadership style can best suit all the situations. These theories concentrate on definite variables in relation to the environment as it helps in determining the type of leadership that can suit that particular environment.

White and Hodgson, one of the leading leadership researchers suggested that an effective style of leadership does not merely relate to the qualities that a leader possess, it is all about remarking the right kind of balance between needs, context and behaviors. Good and effective leaders always evaluate the requirements of their followers and then take into account the situation and then adjust their behaviors consequently. Success of an organization depends on number of factors like styles of leadership, qualities possesses by the followers and the characteristics of the situation.

  1. Situational Theories

On the basis of the variables of the situation, leaders choose their best course of action. For instance, if in a certain situation, the leader is the only person who acquire the required knowledge and experience then an authoritarian style of leadership may be the most suitable one. On the other hand, if the employees possess the skills and are experts then democratic style of leadership may be the most effective one.

  1. Behavioral Theories

These leadership theories are based on the assumption that leaders are not born, they are made. You can take it as the flip- side of the Great Man Theories. The main concentration of these theories is on the actions of the leaders and not on the mental qualities. People can become effective leaders merely through teaching and observation.

  1. Participative Theories

According to participative leadership theories, a perfect style of leadership is the one which takes the inputs of the employees into consideration. These types of leaders inspire the contributions of each employee of the organization and encourage participation. In this way, every employee feel relevant and committed.

  1. Management Theories

These theories are also known as transactional theories. The main focus of these theories is on the group performance and supervision. The leadership is based on rewards and punishments. According to these theories, employees are rewarded for being successful in their activities and are punished for failure.

  1. Relationship Theories

These theories are also known as transformational theories. These theories mainly focus on the contacts between the followers and the leaders. Transformational leaders encourage the employees by assisting them to see the relevance and higher good of the activities. These leaders also concentrate on the performance of the team members and make sure that each member of the team fulfill his potential. Transformational leaders often possess ethical and moral standards.

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