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An Introductory Guide to Leadership Theories

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Leadership theories have been studied for about 150 years now. Due to the fact that leadership is such an ambiguous thing, there are many different theories out there on what makes a great leader. Businesses can use these theories to determine the best types of leadership practices suited for their business.

This short presentation briefly describes the different types of leadership theories (there are 8 common ones) and explains what leaders need to do to incorporate the best theory (or theories) into their business.

Published in: Business, Technology

An Introductory Guide to Leadership Theories

  1. 1. An Introductory Guide to Leadership Theories Sabrina Baker, PHR @sabrinalbaker
  2. 2. Leadership Development is one of the most talked about topics of our time. Can everyone be a leader? Can leadership be taught?
  3. 3. Leadership is such a broad topic with different opinions and ideas. Therefore, scholars have set out to establish models or theories of what effective leadership actually entails.
  4. 4. There are a lot of Leadership theories out there….. The trick for individuals and businesses is finding the one (or combination) that best fits your style or the style you want your Leaders to emulate.
  5. 5. The “Great Man” Theory The “Great Man” theory contends that leaders are born and not made. It states that some individuals have an inherent ability to lead. At the time this theory was developed, mostly men were in leadership roles which is why it is the great “man” theory. Trait Theory Similar to the first theory, Trait Theory states that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better leaders. Trait theory identifies personality or behavioral characteristics of great leaders. Selfconfidence and courage would be two examples. Contingency Theory Contingency theory states that leadership style is dependent upon a certain number of variables. Thus leadership style changes based on variables such as quality of followers, environment and communication style. Also called Situational Leadership.
  6. 6. Situational Theory Behavioral Theory Participative Theory Situational Theory proposes that leaders change their style based on situational variables. It says that different styles may be necessary for different types of decision making or group environments. Meaning, the leader is always changing their approach. Opposite to the “Great Man” theory, Behavioral Theory says that leaders are made not born. This theory focuses on actions over mental capabilities. This theory states that people can be made into leaders through teaching and observation. Participative Theory states that in order to be a great leader, one must take others ideas and opinions into account. Participation is encouraged and lends to give all group members more buy-in to the decision making process.
  7. 7. Management Theory Management Theory is about organization, supervision and group performance. The way leaders respond to others is based on a reward/punish system. Good performance is rewarded. Poor performance is punished. Relationship Theory As the name suggest, Relationship Theory focuses on the relationships formed between leaders and individuals. Leaders look at group performance but also want individuals to be successful as well.
  8. 8. Individuals and businesses should think about what type of leadership model best fits their environment keeping in mind that it may be a combination of different theories. And then…… Here comes the hard part
  9. 9. EDUCATE – Develop and deliver leadership training focused on the style that best defines your business. EMULATE – The type of behavior and characteristics you want to see in others and especially in fellow leaders. ENFORCE – Be sure that you are enforcing the leadership style that best fits and quickly address behavior outside of expectations.
  10. 10. Ready to talk about your businesses Leadership Style and how you can be sure every leader fits in and emulates it? Connect with me: www.acaciahrsolutions.com

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