Leadership is one of the most important qualities for a manager. Hence, the manager needs to be effective in directing, controlling, communicating, influencing and motivating the employees.
Effective leadership ensures smooth functioning of organizational activities. Every manager adopts a different style to manage his team of employees. The type of leadership adopted depends on various factors such as manager’s mind-set, type of employees, nature of task and organizational requirements.
The theories of leadership are:
1. Trait Theory 2. Behavioral Theory 3. Situational or Contingency Theory 4. Follower’s Theory 5. Charismatic or Great Man Leadership Theory 6. Style Theories 7. Managerial Grid Theory 8. Lifestyle Theory.
Leadership Theories: Trait , Situational , Follower’s , Charismatic ,Style, Managerial and Lifestyle
Leadership Theories – Top 5 Theories (With Criticisms)
Different authors hold different views on the qualities that are considered essential for effective leadership. Some emphasise on the personal attributes and traits of the leadership. Others emphasise on the actual behaviour and action of the leader. There are still others who emphasise the situation on which the leadership is to be exercised. The main theories or approaches that have evolved have been discussed in brief here.
This approach represents the earliest notions of leadership and until up to three decades ago this approach was very popular. According to this theory, there are certain personal qualities and traits which are essential to be a successful leader. The advocates of this theory are of the opinion that persons who are leaders are psychologically better adjusted to display better judgment and to engage themselves in social activities.
They seek more information, give more information and take lead in interpreting or summing up a situation. Most of the Trait Theories believe that leadership traits are inherited or in-born or are acquired by learning.
Many researchers have given their views on the type of qualities that are considered essential for effective leadership.
Some of the traits for a leader are as follows:
(i) Physical and mental energy;
(ii) A sense of purpose and direction;
(iv) Friendliness and affection;
(vi) Technical mastery;
(ix) Teaching skill; and
In this theory it is assumed that a leader cannot behave other than what his personal traits are. He may either inherently possess these traits or may have acquired them through learning, training and experiences.
Criticism – But the trait theory has many shortcomings and has been generally criticised on the following grounds:
1. Various studies prove that the trait theory cannot hold good for all sets of circumstances.
2. The list of traits is not uniform and different authors have given lists of different traits.
3. It fails to take into account the influence of other factors on leadership.
4. The theory fails to indicate the comparative importance of different traits.
5. There are many persons who have been outstanding leaders in business although they have been humorless, narrow-minded, unjust and authoritarian. In the same manner, there have been many persons who were not good leaders although they had traits as specified for leaders.
Charisma is a leadership trait that can influence employees to take early and sustained action. It is a form of interpersonal attraction of a leader that inspires support and acceptance from others. Charismatic leadership theory, also called great man theory by some, can be traced back to ancient times. Plato’s Republic and Confucius’ Analects dealt with leadership. These authors provided some insights of leadership. Further studies on these insights have suggested that ‘a leader is born and is not made’ charisma is a Greek word which means gift.
So charisma is a God given gift to a person which makes him a leader irrespective of the situation in which he is placed. Charismatic leaders are those who inspire followers and have a major impact on their organisations through their personal vision and energy.
Robert House’s theory of charismatic leadership developed a set of testable propositions concerned with identifying the traits of charismatic leaders, the behaviours of these leaders and the conditions under which such leaders may emerge. According to House, charismatic leader has extremely high levels of self-confidence, dominance, and a strong conviction in the normal righteousness of his/her beliefs, or at least the ability to convince the followers that he/she possesses such confidence and conviction.
Assumptions – Basic assumptions and implications of charismatic leadership theory are as follows:
(i) Leadership in general and great leaders in particular have some exceptional inborn leadership qualities which are a gift from the God.
(ii) These inborn qualities are sufficient for a leader to become successful.
(iii)Since a leader has some inborn qualities, these cannot be enhanced through education and training.
(iv) The qualities of a leader are of personal nature, these cannot be shared by others.
(v) These qualities make a leader effective and situational factors do not have any influence.
Charismatic leadership theory has certain limitations. If we assume that leadership qualities are inborn in a person then it implies that nothing can be done in an organisation to develop leaders. It is a fact that leaders can be developed, though not great leaders, through proper education, training, development programmes etc. A charismatic leader may fail in a changed situation.
For example, Winston Churchill, the late Prime Minister of Great Britain, was very successful during World War II but he was not successful afterwards, may be due to changed situations. This means that situational factors play an important role in determining leadership effectiveness.
The shortcomings of the Trait Theory led to a significant change in the emphasis of leadership approach. This shift in emphasis began to focus an attention on the actual behaviour and actions of leaders as against personal qualities or traits of leaders. According to this approach, leadership involves an interpersonal relationship between a leader and subordinates in which the behaviour of the leader towards the subordinates constitutes the most critical element.
The good behaviour of the leader raises the morale, builds up confidence and spirit among the team members and the lack of good behaviour will discard him as a leader.
The important functional behaviours of a successful leader are:
(i) Determining goals,
(ii) Motivating employees for achieving the goals,
(iii) Ability to interact effectively, and
(iv) Building team spirit.
The leader will be able to motivate employees for improving their performance and achieving the goals.
This theory emphasises that favourable behaviour of a leader provides greater satisfaction to the followers and they recognise him as their leader. However, a particular behaviour and action of a leader may be effective at a particular point of time, while at other times it may be ineffective.
It is not necessary that a person with an ideal behaviour will always be a successful leader. He may be successful at a particular time with his behaviour but may be a failure at another time. It will not be possible to find out the most effective style of leadership behaviour.
The situational theories emphasise not on personal qualities or traits of a leader, but upon the situation in which he operates. The advocates of this approach believe that leadership is greatly affected by a situation and maintain that leadership pattern is the product of situation at a particular time. A good leader is one who moulds himself according to the needs of a given situation.
The situational theory of leadership suffers from the drawback that it fails to consider the fact that in the complex process of leadership, individual qualities and traits of the leader also play an important role.
The main thrust of this approach is that the leadership style may be effective under one situation but ineffective under the other. A leader adopting same style at different situations is likely to fail. For example, Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of U.K., was most successful during Second World War, but he failed later when the situation changed.
The shortcomings of the Trait Theory, the Behavioural Theory, and the Situational Theory influenced certain researchers to focus their attention on the followers. According to this theory, the essence of leadership is followership and it is the willingness of people to follow that makes a person a leader. The members of a group tend to follow only those whom they recognise as providing means for achieving their personal desires, wants and needs.
Like all other theories, the Follower Theory also sounds well but it also represents only one sided view. The best thing will be to integrate the various theories to study leadership pattern. To conclude, we can say that effective leadership depends on the traits of the leader, situation and the type of the followers.
Leadership Theories – Trait, Behavioral and Situational or Contingency Theories
Theories of leadership are classified under three main categories.
These are as follows:
1. Trait theory.
2. Behavioral theories –
i. Michigan studies.
ii. Ohio state studies.
iii. The managerial Grid.
iv. Rensis likert’s system of management.
3. Situational or contingency theories –
a. Fiedler’s contingency theory.
b. House’s Path goal theory.
c. Life cycle model.
d. Herrey and Blanchands situational leaders’ theory.
This is the oldest theory famous from the time of ancient Greeks. This is also known as ‘Great Man theory’ because the set of traits required for a leader are not possible in a common man. Only the great man can hold these traits. There is a presumption that leaders are born not mode. These traits make a difference between a leader and non-leader.
According to Engine E. Jennings, fifty years of study has failed to produce one personality trait or set of qualities that can be used to discriminate leaders and non-leaders. Traits are innate and inherent personal qualities.
Few common traits in leaders are identified as follows:
i. Physical Qualities – Strong health, vitality, endurance, enthusiasm physical and nerves energy.
ii. Intellectual qualities – High Intelligence, sound judgment, scientific approach, self-understanding, decisiveness, and ambition.
iii. Moral Qualities – Honesty, fair play, moral values, objectivity, sense of belongingness, will power etc.
iv. Social Qualities – Self-confidence, empathy initiative, knowledge of human behavior, attitude, human relations.
In the beginning stages it was considered that traits are in born and therefore, ‘leaders are born not made’. As time passes this hypothesis was rejected and it was found that these qualities can also be developed through education, training and experience.
This is a quite simple theory and helps to differentiate between leaders and followers. Trait theory has been criticized on the several issues. First of all it is not easy to measure traits and there is no such universally accepted list of traits of successful leaders’, along with this only traits are not responsible for successful leadership.
The theory also does not provide any guidance to develop the traits and finally there is no direct correlation between success of leaders and level of traits. So many people are found failed as leaders although they possess the traits.
This theory is also known as follower’s theory. Behavioral theory tries to describe in terms of what leaders do rather than what they are. This theory stresses on behavioral aspect of leaders, which help the group to achieve its objectives.
Three important models of leadership based on behavioral theory are as follows:
The Michigan study was conducted on a large number of supervisors in several factories. After studying the Michigan researchers identified two leadership styles. These two are employee-centered and production-centered. If any manager encourages the employees to handle most of the problems themselves and facilitates necessary help to achieve these objectives then, he is considered employee centered.
A production oriented manager is much more concerned for the task rather than people. He treats the employees as instruments for getting the task rather than as human beings with needs and human values. Production centre manager follows theory X, while employee centered manager follows the theory Y.
It was found by Michigan school researcher that employee centered supervision was more effective to increase productivity. Production centered supervision provides lack of interest and responsibility in the workers. The group motivation is influenced by supervisory style. The result of emphasis on productivity was negative after few times.
Michigan study was accepted and become popular in USA because they were compatible with prevailing value system. In 1950s the findings of this study proved that employee centered leadership style was superior.
The Bureau of research at Ohio state university conducted a research to identify various diversions of leader behavior in 1945. Two dimension of leader behaviour were identified – (a) Consideration (b) Initiating structure. Consideration refers to behaviour indicative of friendship mutual trust, respect and warmth in the relationship between the leader and the member of his staff.
Initiating structure refers to the leader’s behaviour in delineating the relationship between him and members of the group work and in endeavoring to establish well defined patterns of organisational channels of communications, method and procedures. Initiating structure is similar to production centered leader behaviour and consideration is similar to employee centered leader behaviour.
Research study also identified the initiating structured consideration as two separate distinct dimensions and not mutually exclusive. Two sets of questionnaires were developed by Ohio state staff. One set was filled by leaders, containing details of how he perceives himself as a leader and what appropriate leadership style would be adopted in a particular situation.
This was called leader opinion questionnaire. Second was filled by superiors, peers and subordinates of the leaders. The factors pertaining to initiating structure and consideration were included in this set. The respondent’s petition about this leads behaviour was also identified.
The four leadership styles were identified considering initiating structure at one and consideration at the other end.
No one leadership style was found the best style among these four. It depends only on the situation faced by leaders. Generally, the leadership style is adopted on the acceptance of the subordinates of leader.
iii. The Managerial Grid:
Managerial grid is one of the most widely known approaches of leadership styles and it was developed by Robert Blake and Jane Monton in 1960. They emphasize that leadership style consists of dimensions of both task oriented and relation-oriented behaviour in varying degrees.
Managerial grid is a two dimensional matrix with points ranging from 1 to 9 on either axis. The leaders concern for production is represented on X axis, while concern for people is represented on Y axis.
On the basis of these two factors, the managerial grid identifies five leadership styles:
a. Impoverished (1, 1):
This is also known as weak management in which the manager has low concern for both people and production. Exertion of minimum effort is required to get work done and sustain organisational morale.
b. Country Club Management (1, 9):
This style represents for low concern for production and high concern for people. The attitude of leader is employee oriented. The leader show love and affection towards subordinates satisfy their needs and encourage them to accomplish goals.
c. Task Management (9, 1):
This leadership style concerns more with production or tasks and low with people. In this style of leadership task is well planned and authority is well defined. Autocratic style of management is involved where leader in mainly concerned with production and has little concern for human needs and their satisfaction.
d. Team Management (9, 9):
This is the leadership style in which there is maximum concern for people and production both. The work is done by committed people and leader show high concern for their job satisfaction and contribution to the job. This is team leader style in which leader consults his team and harmonizes goals. This is the best leadership style and similar to democratic style of leadership.
It is not possible to maintain the maximum concern for people and production. Therefore, a moderate concern for production and people will survive for a long time. This leadership style will satisfy both production and human needs.
Managerial grid is a useful framework to a leader for Identifying and classifying leadership styles. It is not only a theory of human behaviour but also a technique of organisation development. The attitude and behaviour of people are successfully improved by these techniques in the organisation.
This theory is highly controversial among scholars due to lack of empirical evidence. It does not explain about the failure of a manager in one part or the other part of the grid. Although, the four corners and midpoint of the grid are emphasized but in working conditions these extreme positions are rarely found in their pure form.
Rensis Likert and his associates during the study at University at Michigan about leader behaviour in business and main business organisation observed that – “Supervisors with the best records of performance focus their primary attention on the human aspects of their subordinate’s problems and on endeavoring to build effective work groups with high performance goals”. The emphasis is much more on human relations.
On the basis of leader behaviour, Rensis Likert developed four styles of leadership:
The objective of this leadership style is to maximise the production. Therefore, the human aspect of the organisational behaviour is ignored in this system. This is like task management style in the Blake and Monton’s managerial grid. Leader takes the decision by own and communicate to subordinates down the chain of command.
He uses fear, threats and punishment to achieve the goals of the organization. Leader does not show any confidence and trust in his subordinates, thus, members show minimum loyalty towards leader.
This system of leadership is a moderate form of system I in which the objectives of production maximization is achieved through a friendly approach towards subordinates. Economic rewards are used to motivate the employees to attain organisational goals. Communication continuous to flow from top to bottom with a little bit Increase in the interaction between managers and subordinates.
Major and important decisions are taken by leader and few routine decisions are taken by subordinates. The leader shows some confidence in his subordinates and subordinates also show some loyalty towards leader. This style is helpful in the formation of informed groups in the organisation.
This style of management is improvement over system -2 or benevolent authoritative style. In this system top level takes the important decisions while operating decisions are taken by lower level managers. Two way communications is found in this style. Moderate trust and confidence is shown by leader in their subordinates and subordinates are also loyal towards the leaders. In this system the production is fairly good and the determinants of motivation are rewards.
Punishment and penalties are used occasionally. Emergence of Informal groups is a healthy sign of this system.
This style is the optimum situation for the management or leadership style. Leaders and subordinates are collectively involved in the goal setting process. Control is not vested only on top level. Subordinates self – control and direct their activities for accomplishment of organisational goals.
Communication takes place in upward and downward both directions. A high category of trust, loyalty and confidence is found in superiors towards subordinates and vice-versa. Production is found at maximum level. Participation of subordinates in decision making motivates them to achieve the higher order needs. Informed groups merge their goals with the formal organisational goals.
It is found that system 1 is Production oriented and system 4 is purely employee oriented system. Production can be maximised through system 4 of management. This should be the endeavor of every organisation to shift from system 1 to system 4, to achieve not only its own goals but also the individual goals.
3. Situational or Contingency Theories:
Earlier two discussed trait and behavioural theories are not suitable all time and in all situations. No common set of traits and behaviour can be recognised for a successful leadership. The suitability of these theories is situation specific. Therefore, situation is an important variable for effective leadership style before relating an optimum style, situational variables should be analysed. Leadership style is contingent upon situational variables; therefore, situational theories are also known as contingency theories.
The main models of situational leadership theory are as follows:
(1) Fiedler’s Contingency model.
(2) House’s path goal model.
(3) Life Cycle model.
(4) Hersey – Blanchard model
(1) Fiedler’s Contingency Model:
Fred Fiedler and his associates have suggested a contingency theory of leadership at the University of Illinois. In the view of this theory the leaders effectives depends upon few situational variables.
These variables are:
a. Leader Position power.
b. Leader-member relations.
c. Task structure.
a. Leader Position Power – This means the power of leader by virtue of his position. It is easy for a leader to exercise control over subordinates if the leader has more position power.
b. Leader-Member Relations – Relationship between Leader and member is the degree of respect trust and confidence hold by follower in the leader. A leader is more effective if he is liked and trusted by the subordinates and they are ready to accept his leadership.
c. Task Structure – It measures the extent to which the task performed by the subordinates is structured or unstructured. Structured task is divided into well organised units, each person is aware about his responsibility and accountability. This is an easy situation for the leader to exercise authority over subordinates. In contrary, if the task is unstructured and goals are not well defined then it is not easy for leader to Influence his subordinates.
Fiedler made eight combinations on the work environment depending upon three situational variables. The power of leader can be strong or weak, The Task can be structured or unstructured and the leader-members relation can be good or bad. Eight possible combinations ranging from most favorable to most unfavorable were developed by Fiedler.
In the favorable situation, the leader-member relations are good, the task is highly structured and position power of leader is strong. Even in unfavourable situations, the leader-member relations are not good, the task is unstructured and the position power of leader is weak.
Fiedler suggests that a task oriented style is the best for the most favourable and most unfavourable situations. Relationship oriented style is the best in moderately favourable or moderately unfavourable situations. In the words of Fiedler “The group performance will be contingent upon the appropriate matching of leadership style and the degree of favorableness of the situation.” Favorableness of a situation is defined by Fiedler as – “The degree to which the situation enables the leader to exert influence over his group”.
In order to determine the appropriate leadership style Fiedler suggested LPC scale (Least preferred co-workers). A high score indicates that the leaders are relations oriented and a low LPC score Indicates task orientation.
Fiedler developed the “Leader match” training programme to improve effectiveness on the basis of his contingency model. This training programme was based on the assumption that it is much easier to the situation than the fundamental style.
(2) House’s Path Goal Theory:
The Path goal theory was propounded by Robert House. This theory tries to predict leadership effectiveness in different situations. In the words of house and Mitchell – “The Theory suggests that a leader’s behaviour is motivating or satisfying to the degree that the behaviour increases subordinate goal attainment and clarifies the paths to these goals”.
The path goal theory is an extension of Vroom’s expectancy theory of motivation. According to this theory employees perceive that their efforts will lead to desired performance and performance will lead to certain rewards which are helpful to fulfill their needs. This theory suggest the ways that leader follows to help subordinates to attain their goals.
Four types of leader behaviour proposed by goal path theory are as follows:
According to this theory employees behaviour is influenced by understanding their needs, linking for superiors and co-workers nature of target, linking for their work, and understanding of the organisation structure and help them to attain goals by selecting an appropriate leadership style.
(3) Life Cycle Theory:
This situational leadership model was developed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard. This theory relates leadership style to situation and increase in maturity levels of employees. The main focus of the theory is on followers.
The maturity level is the willingness level of followers. Employees would be ready to handle the task if they are able and willing to do it ability is defined as knowledge, skill, and competency to do a task and willingness in the maturity to the task. The theory suggests four styles of leadership that match different maturity levels of subordinates.
M1 – Low level of maturity – People are neither willing nor able to perform the job. Therefore, their readiness to do the task is very low.
M2 & M3 -Moderate level of maturity – People are either able but not willing or willing but not able to perform a task. They are ready to do the work moderately.
M4 – High level of maturity – People are both willing and able to perform the job. To enhance the job satisfaction they are ready to accept challenging jobs.
Different maturity levels shown as follows:
The leadership style arises due to relationship between leader behaviour and maturity level of employees.
These four leadership styles L1, L2, L3 & L4 are as follows:
i. Telling (L1):
This leadership style deals with people of low level of maturity. These people do not like to take responsibility for a particular task. They are required constant guidance and direction regarding work. The flow of communication takes place from top to bottom. Decision-making and problem solving are done only by leader. In the behaviour such leader are more task-oriented and less relation-oriented. This is also known as telling or directive style of leadership.
As the maturity level of subordinations up grates from M1 to M2 and they are ready to take responsibility, leader behaviour becomes supportive and directive. Followers lack with skills but they are confident. Therefore, the leader continuous to emphasize on high task orientation but as soon as the subordinates willingness to do the job Increases.
The emphasis shifts on high relationship oriented behaviour with them. Although, leader provides direction and leads with his ideas, but he also considers the group feeling, ideas and suggestions. The leadership style with high task and high relationship behaviour is known as selling or supportive leadership.
When the maturity level of the subordinates increases (from (M2 to M3) they become able but not willing to do according to leader. Motivational force is required to support the followers through active listening and participation. The routine decision making and problem solving are sifted from leader to subordinates.
Thus, leadership style is participative and leader continuous to emphasize on high relationship behaviour but with the maturity of the subordinates, task behaviour is reduced.
This is known as low task behaviour and high relationship style.
Highest maturity is shown by subordinates at this level. They are ready, able and willing to take responsibility. They are highly motivated to achieve their goals. Only little guidance, support and direction is required by them. Therefore, subordinates decide on what, how, when and where to perform the task.
A composite view of situation is provided by life cycle theory. Only appropriate leadership style for various maturity levels is not suggested but also prohibiting of success of other style configuration if a leader is unable to use the desired style. The theory guides what to do in a situation.
Leadership Theories – Trait Theories, Style Theories and Contingencies Theories
There are three main approaches to understanding and analyzing leadership:
1. Trait Theories:
Trait theories suggest that the purpose of an organization will be based largely on the decision of an individual. These theories argue that certain types of individuals can be identified who will provide leadership in most situations. It has been argued that such individuals will be intelligent, self- assumed and able to see beyond the immediate issues. Recent evidence suggests that these theories are inconsistent and incomplete as an explanation of leadership.
2. Style Theories:
Style theories suggest that individuals can be identified who possess a general style of leadership that is appropriate to the organization. Two contrasting styles would be the authoritarian and all the democratic, with leaders of the former style imposing their will from the center, while democratic leaders allow free debate before developing a solution.
Research suggests that this approach has some validity, but that leadership is more complex than this approach indicates. Organizational relationships, culture and internal policies all need to be considered.
3. Contingencies Theories:
Contingencies theories explore the idea that leaders should be promoted or recruited according to the needs of the organization at a particular time. The choice of leaders is contingent on the strategic issues facing he organizations at the time and if the situation changes then the leaders should be changed. These theories could again be considered to over simply the leadership task.
“Leadership ability determents a person’s level of effectiveness. The true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”
Research findings suggest that there is no one leader ‘type’ characterized by particular physical or personality traits. Abraham Lincoln was tall, Alexander the great was medium height, Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri were below average height. Some views suggest that leaders are of above average intelligence or are more decisive than other people but research has failed to produce a consistent position.
There is also a cultured bias in terms of leaders, so there may be a bias towards people of above average height or towards men rather than women. The so called ‘glass- ceiling’ experienced by women in many societies has prevented women from becoming senior managers in some companies, in spite of research that shows that when women do become senior managers they are just as effective leaders as men.
From a strategic perspective the contingency approach to leadership has the most to offer because it emphasizes the importance of the relationship between leaders and other people in the organization and it identifies the importance of the strategic situation as being relevant to the analysis of leadership.
At the same time, research into what leaders do suggests that there are a number of characteristics which are felt to be required to convert a vision or sense of direction into reality.
There are characteristics which help to align the strategy of the organization with the actual behavior of the people working in it:
ii. Respect for others
vi. Team-building skills
vii. The ability to encourage others
viii. The ability to learn from experience, and
ix. The ability to see patterns and anticipate trends.
It is considered that integrity is important for leadership because a leader needs to be able to see the ‘whole picture’ and act consistently. Leadership requires a consistent interpretation of the vision, so that the leader is considered to be reliable and can inspire trust in other people.
This trust is dependent on the leader showing respect for other people, in the sense that the leader recognizes people for what they are, treating than with courtesy and showing a positive rather than a negative attitude towards them.
Leaders tend to have more than an average amount of energy and perseverance. They need to be resilient in the face of opposition and should not need constant approval. The relatively high profile positions that leaders are in means that they will experience failures and there will be opposition to their policies and they will need the courage to perseverance in spite of this.
In fact it can be argued that leaders do not consider setbacks to be failures, they are learning experiences from which they move on with improved understanding. Leaders position themselves, or take up a position, so that a failure or a mistake does not undermine their whole strategy.
Leaders build up teams of people to deal with problems and developments; they are able to delegate to people and to teams and imbue them with a strategic vision. They make people feel more confident than previously and therefore able to achieve more.
Rather than dictate the details of how to achieve particular objectives, strategic management allow others to creative and to use their skills and expertise. In terms of strategy management, leaders are able to look ahead and to discern patterns in their environment and they can see trends developing so that they are able to anticipate changes.
When people respect someone as a person, they admire him when they respect him as a friend, they love him, when they respect him as a leader, and they follow him.
Leadership Theories – Great Man Theory, Traits Theory, Behavioral Theory and Managerial Grid Theory
This theory is also known as charismatic leadership theory. It represents the stages of evolution of leadership. During the initial phase, it was thought that leaders were born with inborn qualities. Such qualities could not be imparted through training. Thus, these inborn qualities make one a charismatic leader who can influence others by virtue of inborn traits in respect of situations where he works.
This theory works on the following assumptions:
i. Leaders are born with god-gifted inborn traits.
ii. Leadership qualities cannot be developed through education and training.
iii. Inborn qualities alone are enough to make a person a leader.
iv. Situational factors do not have any influence on leadership.
This theory is a shade better than the Great Man theory in the sense that this theory operates on the assumption that the great qualities can be acquired by an individual by training, experience and education. According to this theory, successful leader is one who acquires these qualities. O. Tead, one of the advocates of this theory, specified ten qualities like leadership, good personalities, imagination, initiative, emotional stability, sincerity, mental ability, courage and persuasion for a successful leader.
Many researchers who studied on the traits of successful leaders in terms of their education, experience, family background found the traits like good personality, tirelessness, quick decision-making, skill, courage to face competition, persuasion, experimental learning, intelligence, creative thinking, reliability, physical fitness etc., to be responsible for nurturing good leadership. The advocates of this approach emphasise that leadership traits can be found out just by enquiring the response pattern of leaders in a given situation.
Those who criticized the Traits theory focused their research on behavioral aspects of leaders. Thus, behavioural theory attained popularity during 1950s. Behavioural theory seeks to describe leadership in terms of what leaders do rather than what they are. According to this theory, an effective leader is one who performs such acts that help groups to accomplish its objectives. Three models of leadership were developed in pursuance of behavioural theory.
This study identified two types of leaders, namely people centred and production centred leaders. The former gives much leeway to followers to handle the problems and gives adequate support in problems solving while the latter is focused more on accomplishing objectives than on employees who are instrumental for goal accomplishment. This study concluded that employee centred supervision was more effective in heightening productivity and the task-oriented style led to lack of interest and responsibility on the part of the employees.
Ohio State University Studies:
After examining actual leadership behaviour in a variety of situations, researchers identified two types of leadership behaviour—’consideration’ and ‘initiating structure’. Consideration refers to mutual trust, friendship and warmth between the leader and his staff. Initiating Structure (IS) refers to the extent to which the activities of subordinates are defined and work procedures are established.
A questionnaire was developed and administered to the leaders to report on their perception on leadership styles. Model was developed from the response obtained. Accordingly, leader behaviour was plotted on two separate axes and four quadrants were developed as shown in the figure.
Initiation (Low), Structure (High)
The researchers found that consideration and initiating structures are not exclusive or distinctive dimension. A high score on one does not imply a low on the other. Many training programmes were organized in pursuance of this model. This theory gained increasing acceptance thanks to its simplicity and appeal.
Blake and Mouton have developed a grid to explain the leader’s behaviour. They point out that leadership style is a blend of matrix wherein task-oriented and relation-oriented behaviour blend in varying proportions to evolve a composite style. In the grid, x-axis represents ‘concern for production’ while y-axis stands for ‘concern for people’.
Concern for people represent degree of self-esteem of workers, responsibility based on trust and congenial, interpersonal relations. Concern for production indicates managers’ attitude towards production, work process, work efficiency, etc.
This grid identifies 5 discrete combination of two factors.
Accordingly the following continuum emerges:
a. Impoverished Leader (1.1):
This continuum signifies low concern for production and low concern for people. Under this continuum, manager is taking minimum effort to avoid controversy and confrontation both from management and employees.
b. Country Club Manager (1.9):
This continuum represents high concern for people and low concern for task. This type of manager intends to keep the employees in good humour and a low concern for increasing productivity.
c. Middle of the Road Manager (5.5):
Leader balances both the task and the employee. He/she has a moderate concern both for employee welfare and for increasing the productivity.
d. Task Management (9.1):
This style represents authoritarian style of functioning. He intends to have a minimum interference in the process of work. Leader is more focused on planning and execution of work with least concern for the employees who are engaged in actual execution of the work.
e. Team Management (9.9):
This is the most effective style of leadership. Leader falling under this grid has a high concern for productivity as well as for the employees.
This theory is more popular among the managers and more controversial among the theory. This theory does not spell out the reasons why a manager falls into a given grid.
Leadership Theories – Trait Theories, Style Theories, Contingency Theory and Lifestyle Theories
The various approaches to the problem of leadership can be categorised under one of the following headings:
1. Trait Theories
2. Style Theories
3. Contingency Theories, and
4. Lifestyle Theories.
This is the traditional theory of leadership which rests on the assumption that the individual is more important than the situation and consequently if we can identify the distinctive traits of successful leaders, we can have the clue to leadership problem, i.e., if we cannot make good leaders we will be at least able to select good leaders.
According to this school of thought, it is believed that a leader possesses certain inborn special traits. The trait theory explains leadership in terms of personal abilities. Thus, an effective leader is supposed to process certain abilities such as, to probe others minds, to predict future events, to command predictable obedience, etc.
Leadership under this theory is generally thought in term of personal quality rather than as an organisational function. By 1950 there had been over 100 studies on this kind of basis.
Most of them single out the following traits:
(i) Intelligence- It is thought that an effective leader should be above average and should be good in terms of solving abstract problems.
(ii) Initiative- Independentness and initiativeness, the ability to foresee a need for action and the zeal to take actions.
(iii) Self-confidence- The leaders supposed to have a reasonably high self-ratings on competitive and aspiration levels.
(iv) Helicopter Factor- It is believed that the leader should have the ability to rise above the particulars of a situation and perceiving it in its totality. In other words, the leader should have a high degree of conceptual ability.
The other studies mentioned enthusiasm, imaginativeness, energy, faith as some of the other traits which a leader possesses.
The line of thinking is still very common. It has, however, been subjected to increasing criticism in the recent years. One potent reason for these criticisms is that the trait defined as important for leadership are nothing more than the researcher’s idea about a “good leader”.
This is probably achieved by the researcher, at times, by tailoring their interviews and research instruments towards the particular traits that they expected to find.
The assumption behind these theories is that employees will work harder for managers who employ given style of leadership than they will for managers who employ other styles. The major difference between these styles resides in the focus of power and the degree of human consideration.
A great deal of research into the subject (in our present discussion, the term “manager” is used for the formal leader in the organisation) has brought forth several patterns of leadership styles. When considering managerial behaviour, it is important to know what a manager is.
According to Reddium, a manager is a person occupying a position in a formal organisation who is responsible for the work of at least one other person and who has formal authority over that person.
Several social scientists like Chester Barnard, Davis, Simon, Mayo, Likert, Dikson, Blake, Gardner have tried to identify and explain managerial behaviour by focusing on leadership and human relations patterns in business and industry. A good number of style models have emerged therefrom. A majority of them use some kind of labels to identify the kind of behaviour described.
The style letter terminology has been used by McGregor in labelling his two types of Theories “X” and “Y” and by S. Rangnekar and Ramaswamy their Theory “Z”. Similarly, style naming was used for the basic terminology of 3-D to convey style qualities. Again, Blake and Mouton have used style numbers in their five-type managerial grid theory.
All the labels, once understood, can limit the distortion of what is conveyed by the style names and can have personal emphasis and impact. It is, however, important to note that whatever names, numbers or letters are used, most management theorists are talking about the same kind of things.
Moreover, a review of these style descriptions makes it amply clear that all these style models have been built on “task” and “relationship” factors. This is justified because the two distinct elements of any manager’s job are the tasks to be done and the human relationship skills that he requires to see that the tasks are completed.
The following are some of the important managerial styles that have emerged as a result of the researches on leadership:
(i) Autocratic Style Leadership:
When the style is autocratic the manager exercises rigid control over his subordinates. An autocratic believes in the “carrot and stick” method to motivate their subordinates by a promise of reward when they do what they are told to do and a threat of punishment when they fail to carry-out his decisions. The manager expects from his subordinates observance of codes and predictable obedience. The autocratic manager prefers one-way (top-down) communication.
An advantage of this style is that decision making takes less time as the leader need not invite suggestions from his subordinates. However, this type of leadership may antagonise the group members and adversely affect group morale.
(ii) Laissez-Faire Leadership:
This type of leadership is characterised by the extent to which the manager avoids contact with the group. The Laissez-faire type of manager exercises minimum control over the group members. The group is left to itself to try for goal achievement, without any interference from the leader, unless his assistance is sought.
The immediate advantage of this type is that it allows the members to develop themselves by giving them an opportunity to try and find ways and means of achieving group objectives. However, lack of control over the group members may rest in non-attainment of specific goals and objectives for which the group is created. The group members may try to realise their personal objectives. Further, if there is a clash of interest among the members of the group, it may result in serious group conflict and loss of group cohesiveness.
(iii) Democratic Leadership:
In contrast to the autocratic style, the democratic style allows the group members to participate in the decision making process. The members of the group are considered important and their participation in decision making is encouraged. A democratic manager believes in maintaining good human relations with his subordinates and encourages participation at all levels.
An important advantage of participative management is that it gives to members of the group a sense of belongingness. Thus, it is easier to secure their commitment to the decisions made. However, a potential demerit is slower decision making process.
(iv) Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid Styles:
Blake and Mouton tried to describe managerial styles by combining task orientation and relationship orientation. It is, however, important to note that the basic styles are a convenience rather than a fact. Some of these styles are enumerated below.
a. The 9, 1 Managerial Style (Task):
Under the 9, 1 managerial style, people are regarded as instruments of production.
Supervision of production under this style places a heavy emphasis on task and job requirements, on a “produce or perish” philosophy. People are bent to fit the job and are more or less; disregarded, except when they demonstrate themselves to be tools of production.
The use of hierarchical power in the authority obedience sense is the basis of control. One- to-one boss-subordinate relationships are the key linkages within the system. Human relationships and interactions are minimised except when work dictates the flow of orders and information through the systems.
The relationship between a management and his subordinates is based on the exercise of authority and obedience. Subordinates are for the implementation of the plans assigned to them. This they are expected to do with an unquestioning obedience. Little attention is given to the development of subordinates or communicating with them beyond issuing instructions or procedural changes.
When a conflict erupts among the subordinates, the 9, 1 style tries to suppress it because of the effect that conflict can have on work. If the conflict is between peers or with one’s boss, the goal is to win.
The 9.1 motto is “Nice guys finish last”.
Under the 1, 9 orientation, work is comfortably done. At best, people are encouraged rather than driven. Subordinates are expected to turnout some work to avoid trouble and because of loyalty and acceptance. The boss is more of a “big brother” than the stern parental figure. Human relationships, in the social meaning of the phrase, are important. The group, not the individual, is the key unit in the organisation and friendliness and harmony among its members are desired.
A manager with an 1, 1 orientation exerts minimum influence on his contacts with group members. Little concern for production or people is expressed. In a supervisory positions he is most likely to be found executing messenger-carrier functions, communicating orders from the layer above to the layer below.
The supervisor is an expert at passing on blame to others for failures in such a way that he absolves himself from responsibilities, yet he rarely initiates criticism spontaneously. His criticism is strictly in self-defence. Minimum involvement in the organisation’s purpose and with its people is all that he asks.
The 1, 1 orientation towards supervision is a “message-carrying” minimum contact. Through minimum contact and non-involvement, 1, 1 reduces the need to take more active steps with respect to managerial responsibilities. The less he see of his boss the better. Subordinates or members of the group are left to fend for themselves the ways of doing the job. Being present, yet absent, is the (1, 1) accommodation.
The “people” dimension in the work situation is as important as the “production” dimension. The (5, 5) style seeks to maintain the balance between the two. A basic assumption of this style is that people will work willingly and do as they are told if the reasons for doing so are explained to them.
Thus, the 5, 5 style is used for this purpose to keep the people in the know. However, just enough is communicated so that people have a general sense of what is going on. If too much is told, they fear that the members of the group might resist. Enough Concern is shown at people’s level, so that adequate production is achieved.
This is seen in 5, 5 style development, communication, performance review and meetings. Meetings are held to listen to their suggestions and to create a sense of belonging in decision making.
One other aspect of (5, 5) is the importance given to the informal system. It does not just monitor the grapevine or oversee work performance but actively uses the informal system towards organisational purposes. Here is an example. If a particular informal procedure, method or technique emerges from the informal system and if it proves to be a good organisational action, (5, 5) style takes steps to formalise the informal action through policy of putting it in writing so that it can become a part of formal operation.
The (5, 5) managerial orientation puts some emphasis on both the production and people aspects of supervision. The carrot and stick approach is a key to supervision, in which the 9, 1 substance of work direction is mellowed by a realistic consideration that friction among people is just as costly to production as it is to poorly maintained machines.
Rather than integration, however, there tends to develop two counter-balancing systems, formal and informal, which tell how work really gets done, and who, in fact has power and influence. (Energy towards work accomplishment is likely to be drained away as it is utilised to keep the two systems from getting out of step with one another.
There is a basic need of people that is met by the 9, 9 style. The need is to be involved and committed to productive work. Thus, the situation is one in which the capacities of individuals to think creatively are utilised. One major difference between 9, 9 and other managerial styles is in goal-setting and its use as a basic management approach to a great variety of problems. The capability of people to be involved in organisational purpose through commitment to goals is fundamental.
The 9, 9 orientation to the management of production and people aims at integrating these two aspects of work under conditions of his concern for both. The key is the involvement and participation of those responsible for it in work planning and execution. This brings about “the kind of team action that leads to high organisational accomplishment”.
In analysing the leadership pattern, Schmidt and Tannenbaum concentrated upon the-
(a) Forces in the manager,
(b) Forces in the subordinate, and
(c) Forces in the situation.
As determinants in the choice of a leadership style. In fact, based upon their extensive research findings, they called into question the compartmentalization of leadership styles which according to them only helps increasing the dilemma of the manager. To quote, “often he is not sure how to behave; there are times when he is torn between exerting “strong” leadership and “permissive” leadership.”
In order to grapple with the above dilemma, Schmidt and Tannenbaum tried to provide a framework and suggested a continuum of leadership patterns that manager can choose from in relating himself to his subordinates.
Each type of leadership pattern is determined by the degree of authority exercised by the manager and the extent to which subordinates are involved in the decision making process.
The extreme left of the leadership continuum describes the manager who maintains a high degree of control while those seen on the extreme right characterize the manager who allows high degree of participation. However, it must be kept in mind that neither extreme is absolute as control and freedom of action are never without their limitations.
Leadership Theories – Traitist’s , Behavioural , Situationalist, Follower’s and System Theory
1. Traitist’s Approach or Theory:
Trait means quality. According to this theory, leadership behaviour is influenced by certain qualities of a person (leader). In simple words, leadership behaviour is sum total of traits. Studies were conducted to identify the qualities of past and present leaders in terms of their education, experience, character, family background, etc. Another way of finding leadership quality is to enquire how the leader considers himself different from others in a particular situation.
Researchers have found out a number of qualities of leadership from their study. A successful leader has the following qualities – (i) Good personality; (ii) Tirelessness; (iii) Ability to take quick decision; (iv) Courage to face competitors; (v) Persuasion; (vi) Lesson out of experience; (vii) Intelligence; (viii) Different thinking; (ix) Reliability; (x) Physical fitness etc.
Initially, most of the persons thought that leadership qualities were inherited but later they concluded that the acquired qualities could be developed by experience and training. So, leadership qualities are not only born but also developed. This theory was mostly accepted during 1930s and 1950s.
Weaknesses of Trait’s Theory:
Trait’s theory suffers from the following weaknesses:
i. No Common Equalities List:
The qualities of a successful leader are listed by various thinkers. But the list of the qualities of a thinker may not tally with the list of qualities in another thinker. At the same time, no thinker has listed the qualities in order of importance. The list of qualities have confused the readers often.
ii. Measurement of Quality:
Thinkers simply provide the list of qualities. They fail to give the scale to measure the qualities. Besides, it is very difficult to specify the qualities which are necessary for an effective leader.
iii. No Scope for Future Development:
Trait’s theory focuses on the inborn qualities of an individual. These inborn qualities cannot be developed or acquired. But, the inborn qualities can be developed. It has been practically proved. But, trait’s theory does not give any scope for future development of inborn qualities. The reason is that the theory assumes that leaders are born but not made.
iv. No Consideration for Situational Factors:
Thinkers do not take into consideration the situation which influences the leaders. The quality of the leader comes to light only when a situation arises. If there is no situation present, there will be no scope for the use of trait or quality.
v. No Need of Uniform Traits:
Different qualities are necessary for different levels of management. There is a direct contact between the leader and the followers at the lower level management. So, there is a compulsory need for technical knowledge. The policy of the management is interpreted at middle level management. Here, better human relations are necessary between the leaders and followers.
Top management people frame the policy of the organisation. They require more skills than others. So, it is concluded that the same leadership qualities are not necessary to all the management people.
Next, leadership role is very limited in the case of large organisation and vice versa.
2. Behavioural Approach or Theory:
Thinkers diverted their attention to study leaders’ behaviours instead of leaders’ qualities. The reason is that trait’s theory has many weaknesses. Behaviour Theory had popularity during 1950s. So the behaviour approach study emerged after 1950s and 1960s. The basis of behaviour theory lies in the fact that how the management viewed the workers.
Behaviour theory assumes that people are lazy and irresponsible by nature. So there is a need of an instrument to give motivation to workers. Here, leadership acts as an instrument. Manager is an instrument holder. Therefore, the manager should be directive. F. W. Taylor finds the behaviour of workers through his scientific management approach.
Elton Mayo and his associates have conducted Hawthorne experiments and identified the workers’ behaviour. They came to the conclusion that human behaviour is mainly responsible for effective leadership.
Autocratic, democratic or supervisory styles are some of the leadership styles. Behaviour approach theory developed these leadership styles which produce different and conflicting results. Different and conflicting results were obtained due to changes in the behaviour of leaders and followers. Both leaders and followers change their behaviour according to the situations.
Behaviour theory concentrated on explaining the behaviour of leaders. The behaviour of the followers changed according to the changes in the behaviour of the leaders. So, what the leader does is the main concern.
3. Situationalist Approach or Theory:
Trait theory explains the characteristics required for an effective leader. But it does not specify the person who should possess particular traits to be a leader. In case of behaviour theory, it explains the leadership styles available to leaders but fails to recommend the last best leadership style. Both these theories initiated further researches and accepted that situation is also an important element. During 1970s the situation theory was developed.
The usefulness of traits and behaviours is tested in a particular situation. Some traits and behaviours are effective in a particular situation and ineffective in another situation. As per the situation theory, a leader is strongly affected by the situation in which he works. Situation helps the persons to develop their leadership qualities and emerge as leaders.
Here, traits or behaviours are supporting elements to the leaders. Situation theory believes that there is an interlink between the group of workers and its leaders. Some groups of workers have aspirations. They follow the leaders who one capable of realising their aspirations. Thus, it is the situation that shapes the leadership qualities.
4. Follower’s Theory or Acceptance Theory:
According to this theory, only followers decide whether a person is a leader or not. Followers take a decision analysing the qualities of the person who helps to have their needs fulfilled. Here, there is a need for forming a group and fulfilling some needs of such a group. This theory cannot be applied without a group of followers.
Traits and behaviour are not considered as essential elements of leadership. Under this theory, if followers accept a person as their leader, he becomes a leader irrespective of his qualities and behaviour. Modern managers are of the opinion that Acceptance theory plays a significant role in managing the people at present. In the political world also, a person who satisfied the needs of his followers will become a leader.
Followers disown their leader when he fails to satisfy their needs. The needs of the group are the crucial and guiding factor in determining the leader.
5. System Theory or a Path-Goal Theory:
System theory is focused on a person’s act rather than his traits or behaviour. A leader co-ordinates the efforts of his followers. The process of co-ordination is done by a person (leader). It is termed as person’s act. The process of co-ordination stimulates the people to achieve the goal in a particular situation. System theory considers all the variables.
The term variable includes the leader, followers, situation, leadership traits, environment goals and group’s nature, characteristics and needs, role behaviour of the leader and co-ordination efforts of the leader. So this theory is considered as modern theory of leadership.