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Theories of Leadership

By- Prof. Lovely

Trait theories
 Trait theories: this theory was described by Kelly 1974. it was
an attempt to classify what personal characteristics such as
physical, mental and relating to personality are associated with
the success of leadership
 Is there a set of characteristics
that determine a good leader?
 Personality?
 Charisma?
 Self confidence?
 Achievement?
 Ability to formulate a clear vision?
Trait cont…
 According to this theory, there are certain personal qualities
& traits which are essential to be a successful leader.
 Psychologically better, good judgments and involve in social
 Share more n more information.
 This theory believes that leadership traits are inherited and
cannot be learned.
Many researchers have suggested these traits in a successful
 Intelligence
 Physiological factors
 Emotional stability
 Intense inner motivational drive
 Human relations attitude
 Vision and foresight
 Empathy
 Fairness and objectivity
 Technical skills
 Open mind and adaptability
 Art of communication
 Social skills
 Trait theories:
 Are such characteristics
inherently gender biased?
 Do such characteristics
produce good leaders?
 Is leadership more than
just bringing about change?
 Does this imply that leaders are born not bred?
Criticism of the Trait Theory
 Various studies prove that the trait theory cannot hold good
for all set of circumstances.
 The list of traits is not uniform and different authors have
given different lists of traits.
 It fails to take into account influence of other factors on
 There have been leaders who doesn't have these traits but
they are recognized as a good corporate leader and on the
other hand the persons with the traits listed in this theory are
not the good leaders.
Behavioural Theory
 The limitations of Trait Theory led to a significant change in the
leadership approach.
 In this theory full focus is on the actual behavior and actions of
leaders instead of their personal qualities.
 This theory emphasis on what the leaders do and how they behave
to become effective leaders.
 According to trait theory leadership is inherited but according to
behavior theory leadership can be learned.
 Several attempts have been made to identify the dimensions of
leader behavior. The most systematic and comprehensive studies in
this direction were conducted in USA at Ohio State University and
University of Michigan during 1945-47.
Ohio State Studies:
 In 1945 the Bureau of Business Research at Ohio State
University initiated a series of studies on leadership.
 The main objective of the studies was to identify the major
dimensions of leadership and to investigate the effect of
leader’s behavior on employee behavior and satisfaction.
 Ultimately, these studies narrowed the description of leader
behavior to 2 dimensions:
 Initiating structure
 Consideration
 Initiating structure: defines and organizes relationship between
himself and members of the group.
 Establishes well defined patterns of organization
 Develop channels of communication and methods or procedure.
 To supervise the activities of employees.
 Consideration: behavior characterized by:
 Friendliness
 Mutual trust
 Respect
 Supportiveness
 Openness
 Concern for the welfare of employees
Leader Behavior and Leadership
Human Relations
High Democratic
High Consideration High Consideration

& Low Structure & High Structure

Low Structure & High Structure &

Low Consideration Low Consideration
Low Autocratic
Laissez Faire

Low High
Initiating Structure
Findings of this Study:
 There is a positive relationship between consideration and regularity
of employees and low grievances. But consideration is negatively
related to performance.
 There is a positive relationship between initiating structure and
employee performance. But initiating is also structure is also
associated with absenteeism and grievances.
 When both these dimensions are high, performance and satisfaction
tended to be high. But in some cases high productivity was
accompained by absenteeism and grievances.
Michigan Studies:
 These empirical studies were conducted slightly after WORLD WAR II
by the institute of Social Research at the university of Michigan.
 The purpose of these studies was to identify styles of leadership behavior
that results in higher performance and satisfaction of a group.
 These studies distinguished between two distinct styles of leadership:
1. Production centered Leadership: also known as task oriented
leadership. Stressed on certain points:
• Rigid work standards, procedures and rules.
• Close supervision of the subordinates
• Technical aspect of the job
• Employees are considered as a tool to accomplish the goal (not
treating like a human being).
2. Employee centered Leadership: (relation oriented
 To treat subordinates as a human beings
 To show concern for the employees needs, welfare etc…
 To foster employee participation in decision making
 To motivate employees
Following are the findings:
 Both styles led to increase in production, but it was slightly
more in production oriented style.
 But production oriented style led to decrease satisfaction and
increase turnover and absenteeism
 Whereas employee centered style increases satisfaction and
decreases absenteeism
Following are 2 behavioral theories based
on the above dimensions of leader
1. Managerial Grid
2. Likert’s Management Systems
Managerial Grid
 This theory is propounded by Robert R. black & Jane S. Mouton.
 Managerial Grid is a graphic model of alternative combinations of
managerial styles or behaviors on a 2 dimensional space.
 The 2 styles are :
1. concern for people
2. concern for production
 According to this theory, leaders are most effective when they
achieve a high & balanced concerned for people and for task.
 These are shown on vertical and horizontal dimensions of the Grid
on a 1 to 9 scale or degree.
Managerial Grid Diagram
9 1,9 9,9
Concern for People

5 5,5
1 1,1 9,1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Concern for Production

Although there can be 81 possible combinations (9*9), but for
illustrative purposes they have identified 5 combinations of styles.
These are as follows:
 Impoverished leadership: 1,1 low concern for production as well
as for people.
 Country club leadership: 1,9 low concern for production and high
concern for people.
 Task leadership : 9,1 high concern for production and low concern
for people.
 Middle of the row leadership: 5,5 moderate concern for
production and people.
 Team Leadership: 9,9 high concern for production and people.
Likert’s Management Systems
 Rensis Likert of Michigan University USA and his associates made
extensive research on management and leadership patterns in a
large number of organizations.
 Likert evolved 4 models of management as systems of
management. His system are:
system 1 : Exploitative – authoritative
system 2 : Benevolent – authoritative
system 3 : Consultative
system 4 : Participative – Democratic
 Likert found that most individual managers and organization fit
into one or the other of his systems in terms of certain operating
characteristics as goal setting, decision making, motivation,
leadership, communication and control.
Likert’s systems of management may be described in brief as
 System 1 management : Managers and organizations in the
system are highly autocratic. They believe in determining
goals and the means of achieving them. Communication is
highly formal.
 System 2 management : in this system a master-servant
relationship exists between the manager and employee. Some
times manager adopt paternalistic attitudes here is & at other
times harsh attitude towards subordinate. Centralization is
there. One way communication. Organization environment
is stress-full.
 System 3 management : in this system, management shows some
interest in employees and their contributions. They are consulted
and their views are taken into account by managers. Some
operational decisions are allowed to be made at lower levels of
management. There is a open communication between superiors
and subordinates. No such control. Trust and confidence between
each other. Rewards for motivation.
 System 4 management : this is an ideal system of management.
The relationship between managers and subordinates are cordial
and frankly. Subordinates are closely involved in decision-making
process and goal setting process. Superiors are very supportive in
Findings of this theory
 System 1 oriented organizations scored very poorly while the
performance of System 4 oriented organizations was very
 He concluded that participative leadership is only the valid
approach to make optimum utilization of resources.
 For System 2 & 3 he suggested extensive and intensive
leadership training at all levels of management to move them
into system 4.
Contingency theories
 The personality and behavior theories of leadership ignore situational factors in
determining the success or effectiveness of leader.
 They hold the view that a leader can be successful or effective if he possess
certain in-born qualities or if he behaves in a particular manner.
 Such a view is criticized by later theorists who assert that the success or
effectiveness of a leader is determined by various situational factors apart from
the qualities and behavior of the leader himself.
 A moderate situational view is that leadership should be viewed in terms of a
dynamic interaction between the leader, the group of followers, the task
situation and the environment.
 Some theories considered under this theory:
1. Fiedler model
2. Leader-member exchange theory
3. Hersey & Balanchard’s
4. Path goal theory
Fiedler’s Contingency Model of
 After a long and painstaking research Fiedler argued that
effectiveness of leadership depends on the combination of a
leader’s personality and the situation in which he functions.
Situational variables are described by Fiedler in terms of following
three dimensions:
1. Leader Member Relationship: the extent to which the leader is
accepted, respected and trusted by members of his work group.
2. Task Structure: the extent to which the jobs of members of the
work group are defined and known.
3. Position Power: the extent of formal authority commanded by
the leader and also the rewards and penalties he can dispense to
 Leader-member relations may be good or poor, task structure of
work group may be high or low and position power of the leader
may be strong or weak. Such characteristics of situational variables
may exists in different combinations.
 Situations are favourable to the leader if all 3 of these dimensions
are high and visa versa.
 Fiedler generalized that task oriented leaders are effective. Good
performance by leaders.
 According to Fiedler, the group performance can be improved in 2
ways. One is leadership training to modify the personality and
values. Second is the modification or improvement of the
 Fiedler’s model is considered as a significant contribution to
knowledge on leadership.
 It emphasizes that a leader’s effectiveness is neither purely a
matter of qualities nor that of situation.
 It is the result of interaction between the 2.
Path-Goal Leadership Theory
 It was developed by Martin Evans & subsequently refined by
Robert House. The theory extracts key element from the
Ohio state Leadership research & the Expectancy Theory of
 The essence of the theory is that it is the leader’s job to assist
his/her followers in attaining their goals & to provide
necessary directions & support to ensure that goals are
compatible with the overall objectives of the group or
 The term Path-Goal is derived from the belief that effective
leaders clarify the path to help their goals and make the
journey along the path by reducing road blocks.
 Following are the four types of leader behavior
predicted on the basis of path-goal theory:
I. Directive Leadership
II. Supportive Leadership
III. Participative Leadership
IV. Achievement Oriented Leadership
Diagram of Path-Goal Leadership Theory

Impact on
Situation Leader Behavior
Follower Outcome

Supportive (Relationship) Increase confidence

•Courteous & friendly
Follower lacks •Concern for well being & needs to achieve work
self confidence •Open & approachable outcome
•Balance equal treatment with status

Directive (task)
•Tell what is expected More effort
Ambiguous •How & when to do it Clarity path
Job •Schedules & norms
•Procedures & regulations
to reward satisfaction &
Achievement (Demanding & supporting)
Lack of job •Set challenging goals
•Seek continuous improvement
Set goals
challenge •Expect highest performance
•Workers assume more responsibility

Participative (consult) Clarify followers

Incorrect •Share work problems
reward needs & change
•Solicit suggestions, concerns
•Include in decision making rewards
Hersey & Balanchard’s Situational
 This model is developed by Paul Hersey & Ken Blanchard. This
theory has been used by nearly 500 companies. It has been widely
accepted in all the military services.
 This theory focuses on the followers. Successful leadership is
achieved by selecting the right leadership style, which is
contingent on the level of followers readiness or maturity.
 Situational leadership uses the same two leadership dimensions
that Fiedler identified: Task and relationship behavior.
 However Hersey & Balanchard go a step further by considering
each as either high or low and then combining them into 4 specific
leader behaviors; telling, selling, participating, delegating.
1. Telling (high-task-low relationship): the leader defines roles
and tells people what, how, when, and where to do various
tasks. It emphasizes direct behavior.
2. Selling (high-task high relationship): the leader provides
both supportive as well as directive behavior.
3. Participating (low-task-high relationship): the leader and
follower share in decision making, with the main role of
the leader being facilitating and communicating.
4. Delegating (low-task-low relationship): the leader provides
little direction and support.
The final component in Hersey & Balanchard’s theory is defining 4
stages of follower readiness:
1. R1: people are both unable and unwilling to take responsibility
to do something. They are neither competent nor confident.
2. R2: people are unable but willing to do the necessary job tasks.
They are motivated but currently lack the apropriate skills.
3. R3: people are able but unwilling to do what the leader wnts.
4. R4: people are both able and willing to do what is asked of
Hersey & Balanchard’s Situational
High task
& low task
(Supportive Behavior)

Relationship Behavior

Low Low
Relationship Relationship
& low task & High task

(Low) Task Behavior (High)

(Directive Behavior)
High Moderates Low
Mature Immature
R4 R3 R2 R1
Leader Member Exchange Theory
 This theory is propounded by George Graen and his
 The LMX theory argues that because of time pressures,
leaders establish a special relationship with a small group of
their subordinates.
 There individuals make up ‘in group’. They are trusted by the
 Leaders give attention to them & they receive special
 Other subordinates fall into the ‘out group’. They get less of
the leader’s time & have superior subordinate relations based
on formal authority.
 Graen & his colleagues emphasizes that LMX has evolved
various stages:
1. The discovery of differentiated dyads.
2. The investigation of characteristics of LMX relationships &
their organizational outcome.
3. The aggregation of differentiated relations to group.
 The theory and research provide evidence that leaders do
differentiate among sub-ordinates.
 This is related to the performance of the employees & their