Paper Example on Leadership Theories

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1747 Words
Date:  2022-06-19


Leadership has many definitions due to its multifaceted and complex nature. Forsyth and Nye (2008) define leadership as a process, a trait, a responsibility, an ability, and a status of authority that requires experience and abilities, and functions to lead and influence the behavior of others. Some of the essential qualities of a leader include visions, commitment, toughness, and visibility, ability to take risks, integrity, and creativity. Furthermore, leaders are expected to be charismatic, can inspire people and solve societal problems (Hannah, Sumanth, Lester, & Cavarretta, 2014). Sharma and Jain (2013) stated that a leader couldonly be effective if they possess certain characteristics and behaviors including good communication and coaching skills, confidence, and responsibility. Someleadership theories have been explored over time. These theories provide justification and guidance on the various aspects and types of leaders available in previous and today's society. The four major categories include the contingency theories, trait theories, influence and power theories, and the behavioral theories.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Trait Leadership Theories

The trait leadership theories contend that leaders have similar traits or characteristics. The earlier trait theories analyzed leadership as a congenital and natural quality that a person has or does not have (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009). In essence, it is inborn and not acquired. An analysis of leadership in this theory is based on understanding the physical, social, and mental features that are universal among leaders. Trait theorists believed that effective leaders are born with unique qualities that enable them tosucceed in the leadership positions (Avalio et al., 2009). These qualities are innate and are eventually evident when a person is exposed to a leadership position. Avalio et al., (2009) argues that qualities like creativity, intelligence, and unique values can be used to identify a good leader. Besides, Gordon Allport argued that an individual personality is determined by examining their motives, personal character, and preferences. However, other researchers like Ralph Stogdill questioned whether good leaders have to born with these traits, which enables them to be effective, or whether these traits can be learned (Forsyth & Nye, 2008). Besides, it is questionable as to whether the innate traits are natured through learning or exposure and whether they have to be developed since they remain untapped in a person.

As much as good leaders are sociable, persistent, intelligent, and knowledgeable, these qualities are exceptional in the sense that not all leaders can be born with them, some have to learn how to be good leaders. Besides, Forsyth and Nye (2008) stated that there lacks conformity on the definition of effective leadership because not all good leaders possess the same leadership characteristics. Even as trait theorists argue that hidden characteristics exist in the human nervous system, Sharma and Jain (2013) argue that these traits cannot be viewed either can their presence be deduced from examining the uniformities in people's behavior. There is a division among theorists including Carnes et al., (2015) who stated that traits are not suitable contacts to describe a person's behavior patterns.

The pressure to identify the qualities of effective leadershipwas seenfrom 1920 to 1950. The first trait theorists wanted to pinpoint specific characteristics that could be used to measure the effectiveness of a leader (Carnes et al., 2015; Hogan &Judge, 2013). The theorists debated that the superior characteristics differentiated the leaders from their followers could be used as a mechanism to identify and discover these qualities. Persistence andsocial authority were some of the general qualities identified in these studies (Hannah et al., 2014). Nevertheless, the theorists continued to lack a uniform measure of these qualities because they were not able to establish common leadership traits (Hannah et al., 2014). Ralph Stogdill, a leading theorist, discovered that the lack of common leadership traits couple with inconsistent findings by the previous researcher makes the trait leadership theory questionable (Hannah et al., 2014). Stogdill determined that a good leader is not only determined by the having innate characteristics only. According to Hannah et al., (2014), the pattern of these traits should exhibit an association with the activities and personalities of the followers.

Hogan and Judge (2013) argued that the trait approach does not look at the desires of the followers. It also lacks a clear clarification of the importance of the traits identified, lacks a clear boundary between the effects of the trait to the followers versus the actual needs of the followers, and ignores other forces that could indeed affect the qualities of a good leader.Sharifirad et al., (2017) stated that the trait theories use a narrow approach because they consider the leaders are people who act independently, thereby lacking a clear understating of the forces surrounding such a leader. Allport trait theory is further criticizedin Harison (2017) because it recognized the environment as influencing the development of a person's personality but does not recognize that the environment affects the functioning of such a person.

Behavioral Leadership Theories

The behavioral theories offer a broader view in response to the trait theorists' approaches. The behavioral theories emphasizeleader behavior as opposed to their conventional social, mental, and physical traits. Behavioral theorists measured the correlations of precise leadership behaviors to those of their followers (Avolio et al., 2009). A positive and effective relationship between the leader and the followers would eventually term the leader as effective. In essence, leaders are not born but are made. The leaders prescribed under the behavioral theories are divided into two distinct classes; leaders who learned towards completing the task and those who leaned towards relating with the followers.

Avolio et al., (2009) stated that the practicality of the behavioral theories makes them better the thentrait theories. Even though a successful trait theory may provide the basis for choosing the "correct" individual to take up a leadership position, such cases remain rare. However, behavioral theoriesare prescribed to look at whata leader does, a mechanism that is helpful in ensuring that behaviors that are not fully developed can be developed in training or coaching (Carnes et al., 2015). The difference between the application of behavior and trait theories rests on the assumptions. If the validity of trait theories has to be upheld, leaders are prescribed from birth, one either has or does not have the required leadership traits. However, Harrison (2017) suggests that leadership can be taught through well-designed programs. Compared to one's trait, behavior can be changed through coaching and constant practice, a concept that was used to develop the behavioral approach.Nevertheless, Algahtani (2014) pointed out that there still lacks universal behaviors that can be used to determine an effective leader. Therefore, both trait and behavioral theories lack consistent methods of measuring the effectiveness of a leader. According to B.F Skinner, identifiable leadership behaviors could be learned (Harrison, 2017). Skinner challenges the view that leadership is innate. However, Sharifirad e al (2017) raises the question as to whether leadership is taught to everybody or is the teaching specific to those who are identified to have the innate leadership already?

Hogan and Judge (2013) stated that leaders must first have the urge to lead. Effective leadership only exist when a leader has the aspiration to lead. An individual who lacks motivation but has the training, trait or talent to lead have less to no chance of leading effectively. In some cases, the desire to evade pressure or accountability causes people to take up non-leadership positions (Hogan & Judge, 2013), whereas there are circumstances that enable other people to pass up to leadership positions.Abraham Maslow (1968) argued that people caught in these circumstancesare not motivated by the need to lead but have other personal motives that can only be satisfied by taking up the leadership position. Maslow (1968) continued to argue that the motivation to take up a leadership position is personal but still contends if acceptance into this leadership position by the followers could influence the person to become an effective leader. Other approaches need to be developed to understand the concept of leadership.

Contingency Leadership Theories

The development of the contingencyleadership theories stemmed from the recognition that both the trait and behavioral theories lacked an in-depth analysis and explanation of the concept of leadership. The contingency theories argue the besttype of leadership is only determinedby the situation (Algahtani, 2014). Therefore, there lacks a universal mechanism to determine an effective leader because people react differently to similar or dissimilarsituations. Forsyth and Nye (2008) argued that each style of leadership needed to be analyzedaccording to the circumstances, that is, people performdifferentlydepending on the setting or circumstances surrounding them. Carnes et al., (2015) stated that the contingency theories could notstand on their own because they are a development of the trait theories and explains that situations determine human traits, and these traits are used to determined one's leadership abilities. It is expected that people exercise their leadership in situations where they expect their followers to be responsive.

Hogan and Judge (2013) highlighted that the situation method ignored the role of personality differences by focusing only on the demands of a person's environment.Fiedler, Blanchard, and Hersey gathered more attention than the theories like that of Allport who did not consider the role of environment in shaping one ability were not ridiculed (Avolio et al., 2009). However, Harrison (2017) questioned the role played by luck in the process of one's rise to leadership. The basis of the situational theories is that one's leadership traits are only effective if the situation they are in is conducive for using these traits. Harrison (2017) identified that the lackof opportunity to utilize one'sskills meant that such a person would not be recognized as an effective leader. Alternatively, exposure to unfavorablesituations only prevents a person from utilizing their leadership skills effectively. According to Sharma and Jain (2013), the contingency theory approach assumes that there are no right or wrong leadership styles.

Fielder's theory established thattask-oriented leaders could be effective in both favorable and unfavorable circumstances. In favorable conditions, team members have strong relations, have a good rapport with the leader, and there exists a structured way to complete tasks (Sharma & Jain, 2013). In such a situation, the team members have the drive to work,and they focus on achieving the goals set. Therefore, task-oriented leaders will be seen as effective leaders in this scenario because they encourage performance. The relationship between the leader and the team members, the position of power, and the structure of the tasks form another facet of the contingency theory (Sharma & Jain, 2013). The relationship between the team and the leader is analyzedin theform of the support given to the leader, and the level of dependability and loyalty. It is measured by how the leader perceives their relationship with the team. Favorable situations are when tasks are structured, and leaders are...

Cite this page

Paper Example on Leadership Theories. (2022, Jun 19). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism