Major leadership theories

Leadership has become the object of study when for the first time was studied the concept of management in the early twentieth century. However, only in the period between 1930 and 1950. was first made the study of leadership in large scale and systematic basis. These early study were aimed to identify the property or the personal characteristics of effective leaders.

1. Great Man Theory
Theory of the “great man” suggest that the capacity for leadership is inherent – that great leaders are born, not made. These theories often portray great leaders as something heroic and mythical, the purpose of which become leaders when the need arises. The term “great man” was used because, at the time of leadership thought, primarily as a masculine quality, especially in terms of military leadership.

In management the theory of great people assumes that the best managers have a certain set of common qualities. Developing this idea, one could argue that if these qualities can be identified, people could learn to raise their confidence and thus become effective leaders. Some of these investigated traits are intelligence and knowledge, impressive appearance, honesty, common sense, initiative, social and economic education and a high degree of confidence. (Nohria 2010)

2. Trait Theory
This theory suggests that people have certain qualities and traits that make them more suitable for leadership from their birth. Theory of traits often determines personality traits or behavioral characteristics shared by leaders.

In the 1940’s scientists began to study the collected facts of the relationship between personal qualities and leadership. Unfortunately, despite hundreds of studies, they have not agreed on a set of qualities that are sure to feature a major leader. In 1948, Stogdill made a comprehensive review of research in the field of leadership, which notes that the study of personal qualities continues to give conflicting results. He found that leaders tend to their intellect and the desire for knowledge, reliability, responsibility, activity, social participation and socio-economic status. However, Stogdill also noted that in many situations effective leaders exhibited different personal qualities. He then concluded, with whom would agree to today’s behavioral scientists: “A man does not become a leader just because he has a certain set of personal characteristics”. (Bass, 1990)

The conclusion about absence of set of personal qualities present in all effective leaders, is often cited as evidence that the effectiveness of leadership is situational. However, Stogdill himself believes that his view does not fully reflect the personal nature of leadership. He argues that there is strong evidence in favor of the fact that different situations require different abilities and qualities. Although he did not call to return to the approach to the management from the standpoint of personal qualities, Stogdill concluded that “the structure of the personal qualities of the head should be related to personal qualities, activities and tasks of his subordinates”. (Bass, 1990)

The problematic question within the theory is that in many cases specific features, as the main features of the leaders, can’t explain the fact that some people who possess these qualities are not always the leaders. This question is the main difficulty in explaining the problems of leadership through this theory.

3. Behavioral Theory
If the theory of personal qualities of leadership stresses the need for identification and selection of future leaders by identifying the appropriate personal qualities and characteristics, the behavioral theories of leadership paid increased attention to issues of effective leading behaviors. According to behavioral approach, the governing role of the leader is based on two main characteristics:
– behavior, focused mainly on the creation of job satisfaction for employees and their development (of interest to the needs of workers and respect for their ideas, delegating to employees who care about their progress);
– behavior, focused solely on execution of production tasks at any price (when leaders often overlook the need to develop subordinates, ignore their interests and needs).
The main conclusion of the representatives of behavioral theories of leadership are as follows: behavior, based on successful solution of production problems, while creating job satisfaction for employees and their development, is usually accompanied by higher rates of work, discipline and low turnover, compared to those units that are managed by leaders who ignore these issues. Thus, the problem of the organization is not only to identify an effective leader in the selection process, but also to teach him to successfully manage people. (Nohria 2010)
However, behavioral theories of leadership, which had great interest in 1940-50s, in the early 1960’s were seen as limited, since they do not take into account a number of other important factors determining the effectiveness of management in any industrial situation

4. Participative Leadership Theory
The participative leadership style is also known as the “participative democratic leadership style”. It is sometimes called the best type of leadership style that helps to make rational decisions on the basis of healthy relations among people. Participative style of leadership, according to most researchers is one of the most preferable: such leaders are generally considerate, respectful and objective in dealing with members of the group. Such leaders initiate maximum participation of everyone in the group’s activities, do not concentrate responsibilities and try to distribute them among all members of the group, and though create an atmosphere of cooperation. Information is not monopolized by the leader and team members available. With this style personal commitment of followers to work is higher, however, the decision-making process with such leadership may require much more time than under the authoritarian style.

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