April 13, 2024

Styles Of Leadership

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Decoding Leadership Theories: Guiding Principles for Effective Leadership

5 min read
It’s a reality that different traits play a role in diverse situations; there’s no “one-size-fits-all” combination of traits that guarantees leadership success. However, this doesn’t imply that you can’t enhance your leadership skills. To navigate the best approach for your specific circumstances, you simply need to grasp the diverse avenues of leadership. Gaining an understanding of the foundational leadership theories that underpin our current comprehension of leadership is one way to achieve this. Let’s delve into each of the four main theory categories and explore a selection of models and tools that correspond with each category. (Remember that a multitude of alternative theories also exist.)

Each theory serves as a toolkit, offering insights into adapting your leadership style to different scenarios, fostering collaboration, and nurturing growth. This journey not only equips you with a comprehensive perspective on leadership but empowers you to apply these principles in real-world settings.

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A Trait Theory: What Kind of Person Makes a Good Leader?

According to trait theories, successful leaders have a number of similar personality features. Early characteristic theories claimed that having a natural aptitude for leadership is something you either have or don’t. Thankfully, we’ve gone past this notion and are now learning more about how we may help others and ourselves build leadership skills.

Trait theories assist us in identifying traits and characteristics that are advantageous while leading people, such as integrity, empathy, assertiveness, good decision-making abilities, and likeability.

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Effective leadership hinges on these internal processes and beliefs, as traits manifest as external behaviours stemming from our inner thoughts.

Theories of Behaviour: What Makes a Good Leader?

Theories of behaviour concentrate on the actions of leaders. For instance, do leaders expect cooperation while dictating what needs to be done? Or do they consult with their teams before making decisions to foster acceptance and cooperation?

Kurt Lewin created a framework based on a leader’s behaviour in the 1930s. There are three different kinds of leaders, he claimed:

  • Decisions are made by autocratic leaders without consulting their teams. When choices must be taken fast, when input is not required, and when team consensus is not required for a successful conclusion, this leadership style is seen as appropriate.
  • Before making a decision, democratic leaders invite input from the team, albeit the level of participation varies from leader to leader. When team consensus is crucial, this style is crucial, but it can be challenging to manage when there are many opposing viewpoints and ideas.
  • Laissez-faire leaders don’t become involved; they let team members handle most of the decision-making. When the team is highly competent, motivated, and doesn’t require close monitoring, this works well. The challenge with this leadership approach is that it could have negative consequences if the leader becomes apathetic or uninterested.

It is obvious that a leader’s behaviour impacts their effectiveness. However, researchers have found that a lot of these leadership traits are suitable at certain periods. The most effective leaders may employ a variety of behavioural styles and know which one to use in which circumstance.

Contingency Theories: How Do Situational Factors Affect Effective Leadership?

The emergence of theories asserting that the ideal leadership style varies based on the situation stemmed from the recognition that there isn’t a single universally correct type of leader. These theories seek to predict which approach will yield the best results in a given context.

For instance, which style is most effective when prompt decisions are essential? Is there a superior method for guiding a team to complete cooperation? Should a leader emphasize tasks or people more frequently? Contingency leadership theories strive to address each of these inquiries.

Power and Influence Theories – What Is the Source of Leader’s Power?

A completely different approach is taken by power and influence theories of leadership; they are based on the many ways in which leaders utilise power and influence to accomplish their goals and they examine the leadership trajectories that arise.

The Five Forms of Power by French and Raven is possibly the most well-known of these theories. This approach emphasises two kinds of personal power, expert and referent (your own attractiveness and charm), together with three types of positional power: legitimate, reward, and coercive. According to the concept, using personal power is preferable, and as it is the most genuine form of personal power, you should work on developing expert power (the power that comes from being a true expert in your field).

Effective Leadership Styles

Transactional leadership is another leadership stance that makes use of authority and sway. This strategy makes the assumption that people only act in ways that will earn them rewards. It concentrates on creating tasks and incentive systems as a result. In terms of fostering relationships and creating a highly stimulating workplace, this leadership approach may not be the most appealing, but leaders in most organisations utilise it frequently to accomplish their goals.

As we have discussed, the most effective leadership approach to apply in the workplace is transformational leadership. Integrity is exhibited by transformational leaders, and they are skilled at creating a compelling and motivating future vision. They create ever-stronger and more successful teams, oversee their delivery, and inspire individuals to realise this vision.

However, you’ll frequently have to change your approach to suit a certain audience or circumstance, which is why it’s helpful to develop a broad awareness of various approaches.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the definition of leadership theory?
A leadership theory explains how and why particular people become leaders. The emphasis is on the traits and behaviours that individuals might adopt to improve their capacity for leadership.

Q: Who founded the field of leadership theory?

As per Warren Bennis, the 22nd president of UC and widely recognized as the “Father of Leadership,” leaders are shaped rather than inherently born.

Q: What are the four theories of leadership?

The four theories of leadership are Fiedler’s Situational Theory of Leadership, Likert’s Behavioural Theory of Leadership, Traits and Method and Bass’s theory of leadership motivation.

Disclaimer: This content was authored by the content team of ET Spotlight team. The news and editorial staff of ET had no role in the creation of this article.


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