Leadership Theories Essay

“Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (Northouse, 2012). The learner had to identify and compare four theories of leadership. The theories selected to analyze by the learner are contingency, behavioral, transformation, and transactional. For a better understanding of how these theories will fit into her desired line of work, these theories must first be defined. According to Northouse (2012), “Contingency Theory is a leader-matched theory that tries to match leaders to appropriate situations to fit the leader’s context (as cited by Fiedler and Chemers, 1974).

Contingency theory depends on the idea that a leader ability to solve a situation depends on certain given factors. There is not one specific leadership style that a leader can apply to every situation. Whenever a factor is presented, the leader must change his leadership style. Dependent upon the situation, a leader may succeed or fail. Behavioral theory assumes that leaders are made and not born and focuses on the certain behaviors of leaders. Behavioral theorists believe that successful leadership can be learned and defined by the leader’s actions. Leaders usually have a specific response to a specific situation and this is because people believe that a leader can be conditioned or taught how to react. For example, the President of the United States cannot act out violently towards a person that may have been murdered in his immediate family. He would have to learn how to control himself in the eyes of the public.

Thoughts of retaliation and foul language in front of peers would not be tolerated. “Transformational leadership theory is a process that changes and transforms people” (Northouse, 2012). It deals with the leader’s emotions that motivates their followers to act with those same feelings and work toward a common goal. Leaders get their followers involved by putting them in the forefront with them to excel to the next level. They show them they are individually considered and acknowledge them for their commitment and hard work. Whenever a leader is able to enthusiastically listen and show a sense of public need, it will build a relationship bond that will raise the level of motivation and morality in both the leader and the follower. The last theory analyzed was the Transactional leadership theory. He stated, “Transactional leadership theory focuses on the exchanged that occur between the leader and the follower” (Northouse, 2012). When using transactional theory, there is usually rewards and/or punishments issued depending on the performance of the followers. If the goal is accomplished and is favorable to the leader, the follower is usually rewarded.

If it is less than successful, some type of punishment may be rendered. An example of the transactional leadership theory is when a police officer perhaps pulls over a manager from an electronic store, instead of the officer giving the manager a ticket; he may accept a gift card from the manager to use in the store. This is also unethical. In the learner’s current profession, she has chosen to use the Transformational leadership theory. This theory is most influential because she is the founder of a non-profit charity. The organization deals with people of all races, origins, ethnicities, and more. She is dedicated to helping others without expecting anything in return. When her followers see the kindness she possess it inspires them to volunteer to help her reach the goals of her organization.


A person can be a good manager, but not necessarily a good leader; another person might be a good leader, but might not a good manager. The difference between them is that the manager is committed to creating order and stability, while leaders are embracing and process change. “Leadership” is to create a vision for others to follow established organizational values and ethics, and find some method to improve the effectiveness and efficiency. All organizations need effective managers who can inspire staff, set the general direction and responsible for the outcome from the organization. Leadership is often been as a crucial variable which affecting organizational performance.

Definitions of Leadership

Leadership is the ability for one to develop a vision, and move others toward a common goal. According Northouse’s, he defined that ‘Leadership is a process by which an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve common goals.’ Therefore, leadership is a process, a person to influence others to achieve a goal, and to guide the way the organization, making it more cohesive and coherent.

Leadership also includes changes in vision, the people with the vision and strategic adjustments, motivate and inspire them.

Different classical leadership theories

Trait theory

There were so many review of the concept of leadership theory and empirical literature reveals a variety of methods have been developed for many years. One of the approaches was the traits approach; this approach has been studied for many decades. The theory assumes that leader are born rather than made. Basically there were three major assumptions: 1) leaders are born; 2) certain traits are particularly fitted to leadership; 3) People who take the perfect combination of leadership qualities. And the scholars have identified some main leadership traits: intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity and sociability.

In recent year Yukl (2006) reviewed that there were several traits which related to leadership effectiveness; a high energy level and stress tolerance, self-confidence, including the self-esteem and self-efficacy; control direction, emotional stability and maturity, as well as internal genes personal integrity.

Behavioural Theory
After trait theory, there was a big jump to the behavioural theory; it assumes that leadership can be learned, not intrinsic. Leadership behaviour theory is leading theory that the reaction in certain circumstances observable behavior and leaders and followers. Behavioral theory focuses on the behavior of the leadership, and that the leaders can be, not born, leadership success is based on definable, can be learned behavior. his theory can be adjusted in a particular stimulus may have a particular way of behavior-based response to the following principles. Rather than seeking natural leadership qualities, look at this theory by studying their behavior in response to different situations, by studying their actions and behaviors associated with significant success actually doing successful evaluation leadership. The practical application of the theory is the leader’s behavior will affect their performance and different leadership behavior may be appropriate at different times. The best leaders are those who have adaptive bending their behavior and choose the appropriate style for each situation. According to this theory, people can learn to be recognized as leaders through teaching and observation of leadership styles, as well as certain behavior patterns.
Behavioural theory also promotes leadership style, emphasizing the value of people’s attention and cooperation. It promotes participation in decision making and team development, support for individual needs and adjusts the targeted individuals and groups. Leadership behavior theory focuses on the behavior of the leader, the leader of what to do and how to act, but also pay attention to the leaders actually do, rather than their quality.
Contingency Theory
Contingency theory is not a leadership style, and these properties are leadership, make-up leader, face a different set of tasks. All the situation are unique, the ideal leader to lead the situation will be unique, too. Some of the major contingency theory are : 1) Fiedler’s contingency theory; 2) Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory; 3) Path-Goal Theory.
Fiedler’s contingency theory point out that effective leadership depends not only on leadership style, but exceeds the control one. We need to have good relationship between leaders-member, task structure and position power. In general, the effectiveness of leadership depends on the situation, there are a number of factors, such as a combination of task’s nature, personality and member of the task group leader is guided.
Fiedler has created the least-preferred co-worker score (LPC), an instrument that tells to measure whether a leader is task or relationship oriented. A leader who has a low LPC score then the leader is task-oriented. If the high LPC score then the person is relationship-oriented. Fiedler claimed LPC scores can be used to determine the appropriate leadership situation. If the leaders can control tasks to do, under the circumstances leading driven, but also have power, leaders are able to create a good environment for leadership. Low LPCS is very effective to complete the task, they quickly organized a number of tasks and projects get done. For relationship building is a low priority. On the other hand relationship-oriented leaders usually view their LPCS more active, give them a higher score. These are high LPC leader. High LPCS more attention to personal relationships, and they are good at avoiding and dealing with conflicts.
Situational Leadership Theory
According to Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory, it will depend on individual circumstances and not a single leadership style can be considered the best. And each task is different for each type of task requires a different leadership style. The theory has two dimensions: leadership style and the maturity of those being led. Therefore, situational leadership is about leadership willing to adopt their style followers. Jesse Blanchard and recognition also lead four styles, they are: Telling sales, participation and delegation. Tell: This means that leaders tell their followers in the end how to do and how to do it. Sales leaders to provide information and directions, it involves more interaction with their followers. Leaders try to sell their information or ideas get the support of his followers. Participants pay more attention to the relationship between the leader and the leader of the team, also shares decision-making responsibilities. Finally, the commission, the leadership has the responsibility to appoint the most followers. Leaders of monitoring progress and decisions they are less involved in decision-making.
Path-Goal Theory
On the basis of House’s Path-goal theory, stated that the leader need to assist the followers in attaining their goals and to give the direction and support to the follower to ensure them to obtain the overall goals and objectives. Base on the theory there are four different types of leadership:
Directive leadership ‘ Tell subordinates what they should do, it is more focused on the task
Supportive leadership ‘ focus on the relationships, and the leaders show sensitivity to the needs of each team member, but also consider the best interests of the team members.
Participative leadership ‘Decisions are based on advice and information to share with the group the group. With the participation of the leadership, this is to focus on participation.
Achievement-oriented leadership ‘ Setting challenging goals, and also the ability to display confidence in the group of high-performance encouragement.


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