Leadership Theory – Developing The Right One For You

By on November 29, 2012

There are numerous theories on leadership out there – so many in fact that they can be grouped into 8 different types. Dependant on so many factors; personality, situation, goals, time or any limitations that may be in place, developing and honing your or your nominated individual’s leadership skills requires a specific programme and a deep understanding of the subject. What you want to improve on within your specific leadership role and where your strengths and weaknesses may presently lie are important to identify, we take a brief look at the various leadership models and how they fit in to the overall topic.

1. “Great Man” Theories
The main trait behind these theories is that they believe in leadership being inherent. Fairly traditionalist in view one of the prevailing ideas is that leaders are born, not made putting them on the side of nature as supposed to nurture. They can be likened to those famous leaders in myths and legends that step up to the mark in times of need, prove themselves and are rewarded with grandeur and immortality through the re-telling of their story passed down through generations such as Alexander the Great or King Arthur.

2. Behavioural Theories
These centre around the opposite to the above and argue nurture over nature. For this reason these theories believe that anyone can become a leader as they’re defined by their actions rather than their inherent qualities.

3. Situational Theories
These individuals apply leadership according to a specific situation, altering how they choose to lead and their actions based on the best path to take in that given moment. They may therefore not always lead in the same manner, varying this and changing it according to what they think is best at the time.

4. Participative Theories
These leaders are arguably democratic in their characteristics and traits, accepting input from others in addition to offering their own guidance. With democratic leaders generally thought of as some of the most effective around, you can argue that these theories characterize some of the most successful and well thought of leaders in today’s modern world.

5. Trait Theories
Trait theories have a degree of similarity to the “Great Man” theories mentioned above in that they believe leadership to be inherent and as a product of nature as supposed to nurture. They are less based in history and not as idealistic as they identify personality or behavioural characteristics in a person which make them innately more suited to being in a leadership role.

6. Relationship Theories
These theories are also known as transformational theories and they focus on the connection between the leader and that leader’s followers. Often thought of as highly ethical people they aim to get the most out of each team member as an individual, yet also as a collective in their group. They look to communicate and allow their followers to understand their overall mission and purpose, resulting in a highly motivated and productive contingent of people.

7. Management Theories
One of the more self explanatory to discuss this type of theory is focussed around organization, supervision and order. These leaders tend to be effective in a business environment.

8. Contingency Theories
Our final type of theory to cover; these theories take into account the huge number of environmental variables in any given situation and as a result, adjust their leadership strategy accordingly. Not wildly dissimilar to situational theories, the environment and employment of a working combination of theories is thought to be the most effective way to lead.

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Based on the complexities surrounding leadership, developing this correctly through effective, bespoke leadership training is important. Continuum offer a number of programmes and other development courses to increase your business skills.

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