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Theories of leadership


Great Man Theory of Leadership

popular during the 19th-century Historian Thomas Carlyle a major influence on this theory "The history of the world is but the biography of great men. EXAMPLES:- Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Nepoleon Bonaparte

Arguments against this theory


is born great, certain situations make certain qualities in individual more prominent. sociologist Herbert Spencer-people are the product of the society we live in.


Trait theory of Leadership


trait is a relatively stable characteristic that causes individuals to behave in certain ways. In 1936, psychologist Gordon Allport found that one English-language dictionary alone contained more than 4,000 words describing different personality traits.

Classification of Traits: He

categorized these traits into three levels: 1.Cardinal traits 2.Central traits 3.Secondary traits

Cardinal Traits
Traits that dominate an individuals whole life, often to the point that the person becomes known specifically for these traits. People with such personalities often become so known for these traits that their names are often synonymous with these qualities. Freudian, Machiavellian, Narcissism, Don Juan, Christ-like, etc. They are rare and develop later in life.

Central Traits:
These are the general characteristics that form the basic foundations of personality. These are the major characteristics you might use to describe a person. e.g. intelligent, honest, shy and anxious are considered as central traits.


Traits: These are the traits that are sometimes related to attitudes or preferences and often appear only in certain situations or under specific circumstances. Some examples would be getting anxious when speaking to a group or impatient while waiting in line.


STUDIES: Leadership traits are not completely inborn but can be acquired through learning and experience. This theory focuses attention on the actions of the leaders, as it believes that actions of leaders differentiate them from non leaders.

Ohio Studies:Through the questionnaires to leaders and subordinates the two actions were studied:

Consideration Consideration is the degree to which a leader acts in a friendly and supportive manner towards his or her subordinates.( fosters trust,respect etc.) Initiating Structure This is the degree to which a leader defines and structures his or her role and the roles of the subordinates towards achieving the goals of the group.


These are known as the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire (LDBQ) and the Supervisor Behavior Description Questionnaire (SDBQ).

University of Michigan Studies:

Under the direction of Rensis Likert, study at Michigan University developed leadership behavior as having two dimensions.

Managerial GRID theory:Leader should have concern for people and concern for production. In what combination? Is the answer given by the theory of Managerial Grid.(Blake and Mouton Model) developed in 1960s. It is graphic model of alternative combinations of managerial styles or orientation in a two dimensional space. Managerial Grid - now Leadership Grid (Blake & McCanse)


Concern for PEOPLE

Degree of personal commitment to ones job Trust-based accountability (vs. obedience-based accountability) Self-esteem for the individual Interpersonal relationships with co-workers Use of people and technology to accomplish organizational tasks Concern for is not about quantity or quality

Concern for PRODUCTION

Assessment instrument does not represent personality traits of the manager -- instead, indicate a specific orientation to production and people

Robert Blake and Anne Adams McCanse refined the Leadership Grid which identified various types of managerial leadership based on concern for production coupled with concern for people.

They tried to goive following styles of leadership at different ends of the spectrum. They are:-

A 9*9 matrix outlines 81 different leadership styles.

Impoverished Leadership:-Style 1.1- Good for noting Boss. Has little concern for people or task Main concern himself Stages drama of putting hard work Keeps his job and stays out of trouble

Country Club Leadership- style 1.9- Friendly Boss Runs a cozy country club within the office Looks after people and values friendly relations more than the task

Middle of the Road LeadershipStyle5.5- Compromising Boss

Moderate Concern for people and production Plays safe precedents do what others do attitude High esteem for rules and regulations

Task leadership-Style 9.9- Autocratic Boss

High concern for production and low concern for people Concentrates on task and ignores people Poor listener Highly sarcastic Wants to have complete control

Team leadership(developer)-9.9 team maker

Believes in I not we Promotes volunteerism and enthusiasm Inspires win attitude Gains commitment and cooperation frm all team memebers

Situational Leadership: Leadership

process is a function of leader, follower and other situational variables,

L= f(l,f,s) l is forces in leader f is forces in group s is situational factors

Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Theory:- contingency theory

This contingency theory focuses on follower readiness. As per this theory, leadership style should change as the employee matures on the job. The following four styles of leadership are depicted .

Type of style

maturity level indication of subordinates


Selling Participating Delegating

Where subordinates require specific attention Where subordinate is unable but wiling Where subordinate is able but unwilling
Where subordinate is a higher maturity , willing and ready to take up responsibility

Path goal theory

Originally developed by Martin Evans and refined by Robert House. This approach assumes that there is one right way of achieving a goal and that the leader can see it and the follower cannot. This casts the leader as the knowing person and the follower as dependent. It also assumes that the follower is completely rational and that the appropriate methods can be deterministically selected depending on the situation.


Clarify the path so subordinates know which way to go. Remove roadblocks that are stopping them from going there. Increasing the rewards along the route.

Leaders can be strong in one and weak in the other. Depending upon this, we get four types of styles of leaders. 1. Supportive 2. Directive 3. Participative 4. Achievement Oriented

Supportive leadership

1. Considering the needs of the follower 2. showing concern for their welfare and 3. creating a friendly working environment.
Advantages:1. increases the follower's self-esteem 2. makes the job more interesting. This approach is best when the work is stressful, boring or hazardous.

Directive leadership

It involves :1. Telling followers what needs to be done 2. giving appropriate guidance along the way. This includes giving them schedules of specific work to be done at specific times. Rewards may also be increased as needed and role ambiguity decreased. When can this be used:-This may be used when the task is unstructured and complex and the follower is inexperienced. This increases the follower's sense of security and control and hence is appropriate to the situation.

Participative leadership Consulting with followers and taking their ideas into account when making decisions and taking particular actions. This approach is best when the followers are expert and their advice is both needed and they expect to be able to give it. Achievement-oriented leadership Setting challenging goals, both in work and in selfimprovement (and often together). High standards are demonstrated and expected. The leader shows faith in the capabilities of the follower to succeed. This approach is best when the task is complex.

Charismatic leadership

Charismatic leadership emerges becoz of sheer personality of the leader. Charismatic Leadership is ethically neutral. Leaders may use it for good or evil. For example, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt and Hitler were all Charismatic Leaders. It is also necessary to distinguish between the pure Charismatic and the Charismatic- Transformational Leader. Charisma does not confer wisdom Corporate Culture Charisma rarely sways everyone in the organization. Charisma to one follower may be arrogance to another.

Transformational leadership

It is all about following things:1. model of integrity and fairness 2. set clear goals 3. have high expectations 4. stir emotions of the people 5. encourage the followers