P. 1
Critical Analysis of the Leadership Theories

Critical Analysis of the Leadership Theories

|Views: 4,481|Likes:
Published by Cristal Thomas

More info:

Published by: Cristal Thomas on Jun 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Page |1



Page |2

College of Science, Technology & Applied Arts of Trinidad & Tobago















4 5-6 7-8 8-9 10 - 11 12 13 - 14 15 - 16 17 18 19

Page |4

Leadership can be described as a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. The enhancement of leadership has developed greatly over the years and this is as a result of individuals becoming aware of how important relationships are in leadership. There are three basic principles involved, these are:

1. Knowing: you must know yourself 2. Being: you must be ethical, principled, open, caring and inclusive 3. Doing: you must participate within your community and act upon your own commitments and passions.

Leaders must be able to influence change and as the years passed by the rules of leadership changed because the world is constantly changing. The following listed below are the eight (8) theories which we used in one way or the other and they being applied depending on the situations arisen. These are:

 Great Man Theory  Trait Theory  Behavioural Theory  Contingency/Situational Theory  Influence Theory  Reciprocal theory  Leadership in Turbulent Times  Relational Leadership Theory

Within my essay I would critically analyze each theory, provide examples of specific leaders and

Page |5 participants whose leadership can be described based upon each approach and critically assess each theory for its relevance in today's work place.

Great Man Theory
“Great man theories preceded trait approaches. Darwinistic thinking dominated the first theories in the nineteenth century, under the assumption that leadership is based on hereditary properties (Bass, 1981). The great man folklore is based on brothers of reigning kings who were ascribed to have abilities of power and influence. It was believed that the intermarriage of the fittest would produce an aristocratic class superior to the lower class (Bass). Great women such as Joan of Arc and Catherine the Great were ignored as examples of leaders who were born with innate or natural gifts.” (A). this theory is based on myths and that men had all the superiority in the decision making process. That great leader can only be born from those who are the “fittest would produce an aristocrat class superior to the lower class”. This theory would not be fit for today’s world because individuals have changed their way of thinking the political, environment, social, technological legal and economic aspects of things have changed. It also shows that once you are born from the upper class then you would become a great leader, that you possess these traits and you would be the fittest person to make decisions. I do not agree with this theory because, it is more of an authoritative approach and the decisions that are to be made would not be explored to get the desired results that would be efficient and effective. It also shows that when critical decisions are to be made. It may not be in the best interest for the followers because there was no inclusiveness in the process of making the decision. This theory did not place its attention on the effectiveness of leadership but focused on the leaders omitting the importance of the followers. It was a cliché that a woman's place is in the home to see about the children, cook and clean. As times changed women evolved, instead of being in the home, they educated themselves to this point where men and women are seen as equals.

(B). an example of this would be Napoleon III he was the nephew and heir of


I. Elected

President by popular vote in 1848, he initiated a coup d’état in 1851 and held the unusual distinction

Page |6 of being both the first titular president and the last monarch of France. Napoleon III spearheaded allied action against Russia in the Crimean war and restored French presence in the Levant, claiming for France the role of protector of the Maronite Christians.

( C ). With relevance of this theory to today's work place the theory is applied to the exemptions of individuals whose parents passed away and where custom brokers and are next in line to inherit this business. This does not mean that they know the aspects the job entails but just signs the relevant documents to give employees authorization to clear documents at customs house on behalf of the company. This theory has its short comings because it focuses more on the fact that the individual's family history can provide so therefore that individual can provide rather than if they actually can deliver.

Page |7

Trait Theory
“In the early 1900s, great man theories gave way to trait theories of leadership. Trait approaches marked the emergence of the second generation of leadership theories. If leadership depended not on who the leader was, then perhaps leadership could be understood by characteristics of those seen as leaders. It was assumed that leaders had particular traits or characteristics, such as intelligence, height, and self-confidence that differentiated them from nonleaders and thus made them successful (Bass, 1981; Bass, 1990; Yukl, 1994).” (A). This theory is similar to the Great Man Theory, where individuals inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to be leaders. If the trait theory was right then only the ones born from wealthy families would be the leaders resulting in more followers than leaders. Over time as world look at things differently, we realise that we can groom persons who possess the same traits but did not inherit it. These have shown to be better leaders because they have once been in a humble environment and can relate to their followers better. A good leader should be able to manoeuvre themselves around situations that arise. The individual whose leadership trait is inherent may not be able to do that therefore restricting them from being effective.

(B). For example: Franklin D. Roosevelt who was born into wealth and attended Harvard was described as a young man as being charismatic, handsome and socially active. He was transformed from a politician to a leader by the impact of “The Great Depression”. His unfailing optimism and activism contributed to a renewal of the national spirit.

(C ). In today's modern work society companies can use personality traits as a selection tool for identifying emerging leaders but they should also be aware of the individual's trait that predict success in leader effectiveness as well as the traits that can be detrimental. Individuals who are high

Page |8 in conscientiousness, extraversion and agreeableness are predicted to be successful when placed in leadership positions where as person's who are high in narcissism are more likely to be liabilities. By using this theory to hire individuals for leadership positions basically suggest that selecting leaders based upon their personality is more important than selecting them based on intelligence.

Behavioural Theory
“Behavioural theories of leadership are based upon the belief that great leaders are made, not born. Rooted in behaviourism this leadership theory focuses on the actions of leaders and not on mental qualities or internal states. According to this theory, people can learn to become leaders through teaching and observation and is relatively easy to relate to. As a leader, you can study the success and the actions of leaders and if studied in-depth you would be able to identify behaviours which contribute to failure and success where past behaviour predicts future performances.” (A.) This theory focuses on whether the leader is job centered (task oriented behaviour) or employee centered (people oriented behaviour). With the leader who is task oriented, this leadership can be quite overwhelming because they are just focusing on getting the job done. The job gets done yes but it does not allow the leader to get to know their workers or to see if they can utilise their workers other abilities to help with their work load. They allow their worker to feel overwhelmed as well with all these deadlines to meet as well as their workers feel as though they contributions to the company is not recognised because they are constantly told what to do. This type of leadership show no trust in the workers ability to deliver because the leader dictates what they do, when to do it and when to deliver it. There is no sort of independence of the workers and lack of communication. This type of leader deems to portray the leader as authoritative. With the leader who is employee centered, they focus on team building and is mindful of the employees. Their job would be overwhelming because the work load is shared. Even though this leader gives his employees’ liberation to do their work some sort of structure must be placed in order

Page |9 for the work to get completed. Sometimes with this type of leadership style employees take advantage of the freedom they get and the work does not get completed. By placing this structure, i.e. a deadline to get the job at hand would get done. This type of leadership also welcomes team building exercises where employees can work in groups to produce effective results. Trust is gain in both the employees and leader because the leader trust that the employee would get the job done and the employees trusts that the leader accepts their contribution. Communication is better because both parties fell comfortable with each other's presence. This type of leader deems to portray this leader as a democratic.

(B) For e.g.: In COSTAATT comparing lecturers in their style of teaching. One scenario I had a math lecturer she was only concern about getting the syllabus completed, not asking if the student understand her main concern was that she completed the syllabus. This left a lot of students confused and most of them failed. The reason for this was there was no communication, no one on one interaction with the students. The end result was she got the syllabus completed but the students don't trust her as a lecturer to redo the course with her as well as they advised other student not to take her class because their eyes she failed as a lecturer. In another scenario, I am currently in a leadership and ethics class, this lecturer does not care about giving out A's what her main concern was that when you leave her class you understand, that you leave with more knowledge than when you first came. With her class there is a lot of discussions, the communication is better, she accepts your contribution within her class because even though she is the lecturer they are things she learns from us as well. There is a level of trust because the lecturer trust that we would all do well and do her work and also be interested in our learning as well as we trust her to teach us in the best way she knows. (c ). With relevance to today's workplace whether the leader is task oriented or employee oriented is dependent on the situation in which the leader is placed. Depending on the approach used would determine whether this leader is successful. I agree that you can still use this approach either of the two or both if it is necessary to get the job completed within the required time.

P a g e | 10

Contingency/Situational Theory
(A). Depending on what the situation is contingent upon would determine what type of leadership is required. This theory just justifies each type of leadership that is required for the just situation. The perception the group infer to be an easy “path” to attain personal goals, to result in high productivity then the leader would be deemed to be a high producer if not and they look for an easy way out then low productivity would result. If the leader does not get the desired results from the followers then they have to readjust their leadership style. Sometimes depending on the situation delegating approach is necessary. This theory also requires the leader to be closely familiar with the intellectual and development level of those being lead. However it does not address important details such as complex factors affecting motivation and it does not include tools for the leader to diagnose a group's task abilities or command willingness. It is unattainable for a leader to know all the members of a larger group and consequently diagnose and prescribe referrals for all the followers’ behaviour with having little or no information. That is why situational leadership is better suited for smaller groups, or small groups within larger organizations with a cohesive goal. Really understanding the abilities and motivations of the team are vital and can also be a major limitation.

(B) For example: 1. Directing style: In nestle the Forman tells the worker what to do in order to operate the machinery well. The worker may not know much about machine but knows that he is told to do his job in a particular way to avoid injury or contamination of products.

P a g e | 11

Selling style: A nursing student who is enthusiastic about their job is being trained on the wards to take care of patients. The individual must follow certain standards and structure in order to complete their task at hand. This student is constantly monitored to make sure that they are doing the right thing i.e. administration of medication to patient. Participative style: The Board of Directors at Algico would use this approach to develop a new policy for which there is no previous case history or best practices. Delegative style: This sort of style is used in COSTAATT to supervise lecturers who have the experience within the field and understands the job requirements but is given the freedom to teach in a style they believe would be most effective.


The application of this theory would allow managers/ leaders to identify and solve problems

under different situations. They would be able to recognize that successful application of a technique in one situation does not guarantee success in another. As a leader your overall ability to correct problems and become more affective would be increased.

P a g e | 12

Influence Theory
“Max Weber used the term charisma in a managerial context “to describe a form of influence based not on traditional power or formal authority but rather on follower perceptions that the leader is endowed with exceptional qualities” Charisma is often attributed to leaders by their followers and is based on the perceptions of followers and the attributions of the leader, the context of the situation, and the needs of individuals and the group.” (A). This theory is based on the leader charisma and the way they use it to their advantage to get what they want from followers. Their visionary ideas are all that they are concerned about and because of this ethical decisions may not be made. Due to their ability to manipulate their followers into believing that their way is the right way this approach is very effective and because some individuals are gullible, they fall for it easily. These leaders are not merely concern of their follower’s interest but achieving their goal. (B). For example: Leading up to the general elections the People's Partnership Government broke its campaign promise with regard to the increase in what is popularly known as old age pension. While at the start of the general election campaign, all that they promised was an increase of the then old age grant to $3,000 and got all the older citizens to vote for their party, by the time their manifesto came out, this had changed to a promise of universal pensions for all at age 60, without conditions.

P a g e | 13

( C ). With relevance to today's world, this sort of leadership style is used but mainly in retail and commercial businesses. Because the way people think is constantly changing it is hard for this theory to be very effective. Individuals are educating themselves as to what is out there, technology is changing, politicians cannot come and as we “ whisper sweet nothings “ in citizens ears anymore because individuals are aware of their rights. Charisma can be a good quality once used with the right intention.

Reciprocal Leadership Theory
“These theories emphasize the mutual goals and motivations of both followers and leaders, and elevate the importance and role of followers in the leadership process. In other words, these theories posit, leadership is not just something that a leader does to followers; rather, leadership is a process that meaningfully engages leaders and participants, values the contributions of participants, shares power and authority between leaders and participants, and establishes leadership as an inclusive activity among interdependent people.”

(A). Transactional theories, focus on the role of supervision, organization and group performance. It looks at the need of the followers where the leader provides the environment for the individuals to complete their assigned tasks efficiently and effectively. In order to be an effective leader you must first be a “servant” wanting to serve by focusing on the primary needs of the organization. The mere fact the individual is hired in the first place is because they met the prerequisites to fulfil the position they were hire for. They do their job well but sometimes individuals because they know that they are going to be compensated for meeting the required objective do not make ethical decisions to achieves them. Giving the follower the right environment does not mean they actually want to do their job. Depending on the understanding between manager and employees results in high or low productivity rate.

P a g e | 14 (B). For example: Followership theory The sales representative at Courts Furniture Store knew that every time she made over her quota for the week she would receive a handsome commission. Although that was the case she made her customers aware of the better investments within the store despite the variety of choices. By doing so she got a salient customer as well as that customer would bring other sales and customers to her in the future. The sales representative manager observed her ethical behaviour as well as reviewing her sales records, the manager noticed she always brought in more than what she made previous months and praised her for a job well done via commission at the end of the month as well as promoted her from sales representative to being sales supervisor.

Servant theory:

Head Nurses of a ward, before she takes on a shift she asks her subordinates if they have any issues to discuss and if they have any problems. She also ask them if they have any suggestions which they can contribute to have a smooth running of the ward in the case of taking care of the patient. There is a code of ethics to which we must follow as well as we give our services to serve to patient making sure that their needs are met to bring them back to optimal health. The head nurse can be an enabler where she enables her subordinates to get the job done or she can be a facilitator where she place things in place for the workers to get the job done.

(C ). In today’s workplace this theory can be relevant because it shows the employee how much you appreciate their effort and hard work. It also motivates other employees to work harder to achieve the great rewards. However this theory downside is that these followers may love their job but just doing it because the compensation package is appealing as a result the communication aspect of their attitude would be appalling.

P a g e | 15

Leadership in Turbulent Times
“Leading in turbulence means being seen to lead, keeping up an active external presence, staying connected. In addition to maintaining perspective and exercising good overall judgment, leaders can’t lead through difficult times from inside a bunker. Finding value and creating opportunities requires energy and active commitment to optimism and a focus on the future. Passive leadership, like defensive leadership, won’t generate growth and may imperil survival. Leaders need to

demonstrate internally and externally that uncertainty creates opportunities and that a well-led organisation pursues value creation in good times and bad.”

(A). Many times in these situations leaders tend to seek safety by focusing on what can be controlled by acting defensively to avoid damage and minimize risk. Caution and prudence, like most other leadership behaviours, are useful only if connected with the exercise of good judgment. At this point in time leaders need to remember that not all risks are bad, not all opportunities for growth

P a g e | 16 disappear, and a broad, externally-focused perspective is more important than ever. As a leader you should consider the perspectives such as the internal, the external and the individual capabilities you should develop to be an effective leader in turbulent times. You should Maintain focus and discipline, Motivate others, have the ability to remain committed to a course of action while simultaneously maintaining the openness to changing direction or changing one’s mind and make decisions in times when you are in doubt.

(B). For example: Mahatma Ghandi

A supremely practical leader for change management. Gandhi believed voluntary cooperation by employees can be secured only by providing adequate opportunities for their self-development and self-management. He stated for management to be effective and enduring, it has to be an open book, subjecting itself to public scrutiny. Gandhi also emphasised ethics and honesty as critical elements of a successful business policy and that Leadership comes down to the decision of a single solitary human being and every other attitude, belief, or policy relating to leadership is either subordinate to This truth or is an instance of self delusion.

(c ).

In an organisation that thrives in difficult times, decisions are made at the right level but not necessarily the highest level. Investment continues in building the capacity of leaders and managers who make the strategic and performance goals clear, compelling and relevant. A leader must have the discipline and focus to remain steady and have the emotional maturity to calm followers and keep the organization functioning effectively in the midst of the turbulence.

P a g e | 17

Relational Leadership Theory
“Relational theories, also known as transformational theories, focus upon the connections formed between leaders and followers. Transformational leaders motivate and inspire people by helping group members see the importance and higher good of the task. These leaders are focused on the performance of group members, but also want each person to fulfil his or her potential. Leaders with this style often have high ethical and moral standards.” (A). With this theory the leaders get to understand their followers better and would have attained communications without barriers. The followers would have a comfortable working environment where they know that their ideas and opinions would matter. With this the follower and leader would

P a g e | 18 be able to identify both their strengths and weaknesses, by achieving that the leader would now place the individual in a position where he can maximize his strengths as well as the company getting the most out of the individual instead of leaving them in a position where constant work has to be done in order for the company to reach its goal. (B) For example: The Tobago Department of Youth Affairs looked at various individuals strengths and either moved them to or created positions for them that they would be most productive and effective to the department’s growth. For e.g. Recently this department reshuffled the IT department, moving an individual from centre coordinator to IT tech because of his strong IT background and replaced him with someone who is more familiar with the community and its residents and has more experience working with youth groups and various stake holders. (C ). Yes this theory is still being used in today’s workplace even in the Division’s department. By the application of this theory the Division’s department needs are met, no one looses their jobs, the individual is happy and motivated as well as the individual feels more empowered now that they are given jobs that they are good at.

Within the essay above I critically analyzed each theory, provided examples of specific leaders and participants whose leadership would have been described based upon each approach and critically assessed each theory for its relevance in today's work place. Each theory listed before after being studied was not wrong nor was it 100% right, it was just appropriate for a particular situation. Each theory changed because the environment and individuals thinking evolved (PESTLE) and because these theories developed both the individuals (followers) and the mangers (leaders) needs are met resulting in a progressing business.

P a g e | 19

Hersey, Paul and Kenneth H. Blanchard. Management of Organizational Behaviour: Utilizing Human resources. New Jersey. Prentice-Hall. 1993. Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory and practice. Third edition. California. SAGE Publications. 2004. Schermerhorn, John R. Situational Leadership: Conversations with Paul Hersey. A pamphlet Prepared by The Center for Leadership Studies. 2001. Thomas, Donald and William L. Bainbridge. Sharing the Glory. Leadership. Volume 31, Number 3, Pages 12-15, January 2002. Bass, R. (2008).The Bass Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research, and Managerial Application (4th Ed.). Simon and Schuster.Berndt, R. (2003). Leadership in turbulence Zeiten (Herausforderungen and as Management) . New York: Springer. Carlisle, H. M. (1973).

P a g e | 20 Situational management a contingency approach to leadership . [New York]: AMACOM.Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2007). Personality and Individual Differences (BpsTextbooks in Psychology) . Grand Rapids: Blackwell Limited. Heifetz, R. (1998). Leadership without Easy Answers . New York: Belknap P.Kunitz, S. J., & Haycraft, H. (1973). British authors of the nineteenth century .New York: H.W. Wilson comparison., & bonobos. (n.d.). Leadership - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia. Wikipedia, the Free encyclopedia. Retrieved June 15, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership 18 Cherry, K. (n.d.). Leadership Theories - Eight Major Leadership Theories. Psychology Complete Guide to Psychology for Students, Educators & Enthusiasts. Retrieved June 15, 2012, From http://psychology.about.com/od/leader Leadership Theories and Studies - eNotes.com. (n.d.). ENotes - Literature Study Guides, Lesson Plans, and More.. Retrieved June 19, 2012, from http://www.enotes.com/leadership-theoriesstudies-reference/leadership-theories-studies Region. (n.d.). The chaos theory of leadership - FT.com. World business, finance, and political news from the Financial Times - FT.com. Retrieved June 20, 2012, from http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/4f20ec38-c012-11dd-9222-0000779fd18c.html#axzz1yO9pAF29

You're Reading a Free Preview