Meaning of Leadership
• Yukl (2006) defines leadership as “the process of
influencing others to understand and agree
about what needs to be done and how to do it, or
the process of facilitating individual and
collective efforts to accomplish shared
• Leadership is “a process whereby an individual
influences a group of individuals to achieve a
common goal” (Northousem, 2010).
Meaning of Leadership
• The two definitions suggest several components
central to the phenomenon of leadership. Some
of them are:
• Leadership involves influencing others,
• Leadership is a process,
• Leadership happens within the context of a
• Leadership involves goal attainment, and
• These goals are shared by leaders and their
Models and Theories of Leadership
• Trait Theory (30’s)
• Behavioral Theory (40’s and 50’s)
• Contingency Theory (60s and 70s)
• Transformational Theory (80s up)
• Others: emergent, distributed, shared, level 5
Great Man Theory (1840’s)
• This theory is linked to the work of the historian
“Thomas Carlyle” and was proposed during the
19th century (1840’s) when history can be largely
explained by the impact of great men or heroes and
that great leaders are born and not made.
• Carlyle had a major influence on this theory of
leadership, at one point stating that, "The history of
the world is basically the combined biographies of
great men." In his book "On Heroes, Hero-Worship,
and the Heroic in History", he compared a wide
array of heroes.
Great Man Theory Cont..
• This theory was called “great man” because it
focused on identifying the innate qualities and
characteristics possessed by great social, political,
and military leaders.
• According to this theory, capacity for leadership is
inborn, that is, a person is a natural born
leader. These born leaders are highly influential
individuals, gifted with divine inspiration and the
right characteristics like charisma,
intelligence, wisdom, political skills etc. with a
capability to have a decisive historical impact.
Assumptions of Great Man Theory
• The Great Man Theory centres on two main
Great leaders are born possessing
certain traits that enable them to rise
The theory assumes that the traits of leadership are intrinsic. That simply
means that great leaders are born... they are not made. This theory sees great
leaders as those who are destined by birth to become a leader.
Great leaders will arise when there is a
The belief was that great leaders will rise when confronted with the
Criticism of The Great Man Theory
• Not everyone in Carlyle’s time, however, agreed
with the theory’s assumptions.
• Herbert Spencer, a noted philosopher,
sociologist, biologist and political theorist of the
Victorian era, countered that the Great Man
Theory was childish, primitive and unscientific.
He believed leaders were products of their
environment or the society in which they lived.
He advocated that before a “great man” can
remake his society, that society has to make him.
Traits Theory (1930's - 1940's)
• Essentially, the Traits Theory postulates that
personal characteristics (e.g. personality traits,
cognitive skills, interpersonal skills) determine
an individual’s potential for leadership roles
(Furham, 2005). Thus, leadership is something
intrinsic to the individual.
• This approach emphasizes leaders attributes
such as personality, motives, values, and skills
Assumptions of Traits Theory
People are born with inherited traits.
Some traits are particularly suited to leadership.
People who make good leaders have the right (or
sufficient) combination of traits.
• Stogdill (1974) identified several traits and skills
as critical to leaders.
Leadership Traits and Skills
• Adaptable to situations
• Tolerant of stress
• Willing to assume responsibility
• Clever (intelligent)
• Conceptually skilled
• Diplomatic and tactful
• Fluent in speaking
• Knowledgeable about group task
• Organised (administrative ability)
• Socially skilled
Application of Trait Theory
• Lot of research has validated the foundation and basis of the theory
and it can be applied by people at all levels in all types of
• Managers can utilize the information from the theory to evaluate
their position in the organization and to assess how their position
can be made stronger in the organization.
• It serves as a yardstick against which the leadership traits of an
individual can be assessed and individuals can get an in-depth
understanding of their identity and the way they will affect others in
• Managers can be aware of their strengths and weaknesses and thus
they get an understanding of how they can develop their leadership
Criticism of Trait Theory
• Some of the most common criticisms of trait theory
centre on the fact that traits are often poor
predictors of behaviour (Cherry, 2016). While an
individual may score high on assessments of a
specific trait, he or she may not always behave that
way in every situation.
• Trait theories do not address how or why individual
differences in personality develop or emerge.
• Although the followers have a significant effect on
the job accomplished by the leader, Trait theory
completely ignores them and the situations that also
help a leader to be successful.
Behavioural Theories (1940's - 1950's)
• As there were inherent limitations with the Trait
approach to leadership, when early researchers ran
out of steam in their search for traits, they turned to
what leaders did, how they behaved and came with
behavioral theory of leadership.
• This became the dominant way of approaching
leadership within organizations in the 1950s and
• The behavioural theories are offering a new
perspective, one that focuses on the behaviours of
the leaders as opposed to their mental, physical or
Behavioural Theories Cont..
• Behavioural theories of leadership are based upon
the belief that great leaders are made, not born
(Krumm, 2001). Consider it the flip-side of the
Great Man theories, in that it assumes that
leadership capability can be learned, rather than
• This leadership theory focuses on the actions of
leaders not on mental qualities or internal states
(Krumm, 2001). According to this theory, people
can learn to become leaders through teaching and
Assumptions of Behavioural Theories
• Leaders can be made, rather than born.
• Successful leadership is based in definable,
Strengths of Behavioral Theory
• Promotes the value of leadership styles with an emphasis
on concern for people and collaboration.
• Promotes participative decision making and team
development by supporting individual needs and
aligning individual and group objectives.
• Helps managers evaluate and understand how their
behavioral style as a manager affects their relationship
with the team and promotes commitment and
contribution towards organizational goals.
• Helps managers find the right balance
between different styles of
leadership, and helps them decide how to behave as a
leader, depending on concerns for people and for
Arguments against Behavioral Theory
• The theory proposes leadership styles but a specific
leadership style may not be best in all
circumstances. While behavioral theories may help
managers develop particular leadership behaviors
but they provide little guidance as to what
constitutes effective leadership in different
• The styles that leaders can adopt are far more
affected by those they are working with, and the
environment they are operating within, than had
been originally thought. Most researchers today
conclude that no one leadership style is right for
every manager under all circumstances.
Contingency Theories (1960's)
• Contingency theory is a class of behavioral theory that
claims that there is no best way to organize a
corporation, to lead a company, or to make decisions.
Instead, the optimal course of action is contingent
(dependent) upon the internal and external situation.
• It is called contingency because it suggests that a leader’s
effectiveness depends on how well the leader’s style fits
the context or the situation.
• This theory suggests that no leadership style is best
in all situations. In other words, the leader modifies
the best course of action based upon his or her own
personal characteristics and the context, i.e., the current
situation (Krumm, 2001).
Contingency Theories (1960's)
• According to contingency theory, leader’s success
depends upon a number of variables, including the
leadership style, qualities of the followers and
aspects of the situation.
• Different styles of leadership may be more
appropriate for certain types of decision-making.
• For example, an authoritarian style might be most
appropriate in a situation where the leader is the
most knowledgeable and experienced member of a
group. In other instances where group members are
skilled experts, a democratic style would be more
Path-Goal Theory (1971)
• Several contingency approaches were developed
concurrently in the late 1960s, such as the Path-Goal
Theory (1971) and the Vroom and Yetton’s Decision-
Making Model (1973).
• Path-Goal theory was developed by House (1971) to
describe the way that leaders encourage and support
their followers in achieving the goals they have been set
by making the path that they should take clear and easy.
• According to the Path-Goal Theory, an effective leader
guides his employees to help them attain shared goals:
he or she supports employees in order to ensure that
their goals and collective goals coincide (Langton &
• Path-Goal Theory 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
• It also assumes that the follower is completely
rational and that the appropriate methods can
be deterministically selected depending on the
Path-Goal Theory Cont..
• House and Mitchell (1975) identified four leadership
styles: directive, supportive, participative and
results oriented. The choice of style depends upon a
combination of subordinates’ personal goals,
subordinates’ personal characteristics, and the work
situation (Krumm, 2001).
• According to the situation (e.g. hazy work
instructions with an unmotivated subordinate), the
leader will choose which leadership style to favour
(e.g. directive, supportive, participative, or results
Vroom and Yetton’s Decision-Making
• This model was originally described by Victor
Vroom and Philip Yetton in their 1973 book
titled Leadership and Decision Making.
• As stated by Krumm (2001), the Vroom and
Yetton Theory is classified as a prescriptive
theory, meaning that it provides leaders with a
way to choose the best decision-making method
before going ahead.
Vroom and Yetton’s Model Cont..
• A series of questions allows to the leader to choose
from among five methods of decision-making,
ranging from entirely authoritative to completely
participatory (Krumm, 2001). The method of choice
depends upon the leader’s answers to seven types of
• The Decision Making Model of Vroom and Yetton
(1973) noted that it was important for the leader to
determine how much participation subordinates
would have in the decision making process.
• The model was predicated on the idea that there was
a direct link between subordinate acceptance of
decisions and worker productivity.
Vroom and Yetton’s Model Cont..
• The underlying assumption of the Vroom-Yetton
Decision Models is that no leadership style or
decision making process fits all situations. By
analyzing the situation and evaluating the
problem based on time, team buy-in, and
decision quality, a conclusion about which style
best fits the situation can be made.
• The model defines a very logical approach to
which style to adopt and is useful for managers.
Key Strengths of Contingency Theory
• Contingency theory is grounded in research as
many researchers have tested it and found it to
be a valid and reliable approach to explaining
how effective leadership can be achieved.
• This theory considers the impact of situations on
leaders and focuses on the relationship between
the leader’s style and the demands of various
Application of Contingency Theory
• It can be used to assess the effectiveness of an
individual in a particular role and look at the
reasons for one’s effectiveness or ineffectiveness.
• It can be used to predict whether a person who
has worked well in one position in an
organization will be equally effective in another
position having different situational variables
when compared to the existing position based on
the contingencies that make one’s style effective.
Weaknesses of Contingency Theory
• As now we have more understanding of leadership
and its challenges in the 21st century organizational
context, contingency model might not be the best
leadership model to use in most situations, but still
can be a powerful tool to analyze a particular
situation to determine whether to focus on tasks or
• Further, this model does not fully explain how
organizations can use the results of this theory in
situational engineering and hence it is
recommended to take a cautious approach and use
own judgment to analyze the situation from all
New Leadership Approaches
• Beginning around the 1980s, the concept of
leadership changed direction with what is
referred to as the New Leadership. Researchers
have most often tended to include Transactional
Leadership, Transformational Leadership,
Charismatic Leadership and Visionary
Leadership in this trend.
Transactional Theories (1970's)
• Transactional theories, also known as exchange
or management theories are characterized by a
transaction made between the leader and the
followers. They focus on the role of supervision,
organization and group performance.
• These theories base leadership on a system of
rewards and punishments. Managerial theories
are often used in business; when employees are
successful, they are rewarded; when they fail,
they are reprimanded or punished.
Assumptions of Transactional Theories
• People are motivated by reward and
• When people have agreed to do a job, a part of
the deal is that they cede all authority to their
• The prime purpose of a subordinate is to do
what their manager tells them to do.
Transactional Theories Cont...
• For the transactional theories to be effective and
as a result have motivational value, the leader
must find a means to align to adequately reward
(or punish) his follower, for performing leader-
• In other words, transactional leaders are most
efficient when they develop a mutual reinforcing
environment, for which the individual and the
organizational goals are in sync.
Limitation of Transactional Theories
• The main limitation is the assumption of
'rational man', a person who is largely motivated
by money and simple reward, and hence whose
behavior is predictable.
• Despite much research that highlights its
limitations, Transactional Leadership is still a
popular approach with many managers.
Relationship Theories (1970's)
• Relationship theories, also known as
transformational theories, evolved in the late
1970s and early 1980s (Hickman, 1990). They
focus on the connections formed between
leaders and followers.
• In these theories, leadership is the process by
which a person engages with others and is able
to “create a connection” that results in increased
motivation and morality in both followers and
• People will follow a person who inspires them.
• A person with vision and passion can achieve
• Transformational Leadership starts with the
development of a vision, a view of the future that
will excite and convert potential followers.
Relationship Theories Cont..
• Essentially, Transactional Leadership is distinct
from Transformational Leadership in its use of a
reward system (Ashkanasy & Tse, 2000), while
Transformational Leadership (as its name
suggests) implies the transformation of
• Leaders of this style often have high ethical and
moral standards (Charry, 2012).
• In the latter part of the 1970s and early 1980s, the
field showed renewed interest in the idea of the
“charismatic leader,” a concept first introduced by
Max Weber (Hollander & Offermann, 1990).
• Charismatic leaders are typically thought to exert
enormous influence and power over their followers
as a result of their emotional appeal, especially in
crisis-type situations where conventional wisdom
suggests strong leadership is sought out (House,
Assumptions of Charismatic Leadership
• Charm and grace are all that is needed to create
The Charismatic Leader gathers followers through dint of personality and
charm, rather than any form of external power or authority.
• Self-belief is a fundamental need of leaders.
• People follow others that they personally
Charismatic Leadership Cont..
• Charismatic Leadership is also very closely
related to Transformational Leadership; in
short, these approaches are differentiated
mainly by the fact that the charismatic leader
transforms the subordinates’ interests to match
those of the leader, while the transformational
leader transforms the organization and, quite
possibly, their followers.