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What is Leadership? Leadership is the art of inspiring subordinates to perform their duties willingly, competently and enthusiastically. A leader is one who by example and talent, plays a directing role and wields commanding influence over others. By proper definition, leadership is the use of non-coercive influence to shape the groups or organization's goals, motivate behavior toward the achievement of those goals, and help define group and organization culture. One of the most interesting observations of life is that all animals that live in groups have leaders. All kind of creature not just humans have leaders. Lions, elephants, baboons, insects, dogs, fish and birds have leaders. Their leader makes most of the decisions and gets his choice of food and physical place. When the group is threatened, the leader plans the defense. Or if an attack is to be made on another group, the leader organizes it. All human groups also have a leader. Such diverse organizations as street gangs, college classes, political parties and prison in-mates who emerges as the final authority to what to do. Often the leader has no title but who the person is, nevertheless is clear.
Evolution of Leadership: Leadership has been greatly evolved in 21st century. In the classic literature of leadership (that is over the last 80 years or so) there have been these main ‘generations’ of theory: • • • Trait theories Behavioral theories Contingency theories
Trait Theories: The first organized approach to studying leadership was to analyze the personal, psychological and physical traits of strong leaders. The underlying assumption of the trait approach was that there existed some basic trait or set of traits that differentiated leaders from non-leaders. If those traits could be defined, potential leaders could be identified. But despite the best of the efforts of researchers, it proved to be impossible to identify a set of traits that would always differentiate a leader from a non-leader. As soon as we study the lives of people who have been labeled as great or effective leaders, it becomes clear that they have very different qualities. We only have to take two figures like Nelson Mandela and Mao Zedong and to confirm that they have totally different traits. However, later attempts to identify traits consistently associated with leadership were more successful. Six traits associated with effective leadership included drive, the desire to lead, honesty and integrity, selfconfidence, intelligence and job-relevant knowledge.
Behavioral Theories: As the early researchers ran out of steam in their search for traits, they turned to what leaders did - how they behaved (especially towards followers). They moved from leaders to leadership - and this became the dominant way of approaching leadership within organizations in the 1950s and early 1960s. Different patterns of behavior were grouped together and labeled as styles. There are many behavioral theories but most famous are studies by university of lowa and managerial grid. University of Lowa Studies: The University of Lowa Studies explored three leadership styles. The autocratic style described a leader who typically tended to centralize authority, dictate work methods, make unilateral decisions, and limit employee participation. The democratic style described a leader who tended to involve employees in decision making, delegate authority, and encourage participation in deciding work methods and goals, and use feedback as an opportunity for coaching employees. Finally, the laissez-faire style leader generally gave the group complete freedom to make decisions and complete work in whatever way it saw fit. Managerial Grid: Perhaps the most famous behavior approach is Managerial Grid used the behavioral dimension based on two forms of leader behavior: concern for people and concern for production, and evaluated a leader's use of these behaviors, ranking them on a scale from 1(low) to 9(high).
Contingency Theories: Then, researchers began to turn to the contexts in which leadership is exercised - and the idea that what is needed changes from situation to situation. This placed a premium on people who were able to develop an ability to work in different ways, and could change their style to suit the situation. Path Goal Theory is the most famous contingency theory. Path Goal Theory: The path-goal theory suggests that the primary functions of a leader are to make valued or desired rewards available the workplace and to clarify for the subordinate the kinds of behavior that will lead to goal accomplishment and valued rewards-that is, the leader should clarify the paths to goal attainment. It identifies four kinds of leader behavior. First is directive leader behavior - letting subordinates know what is expected of them, giving guidance and direction, and scheduling work. Second is supportive leader behavior - being friendly and approachable, showing concern for subordinate welfare, and treating members as equals. Third is participative leader behavior - consulting subordinates, soliciting suggestions, and allowing participation in decision making. Fourth is achievement-oriented behavior - setting challenging goals, expecting subordinates to perform at high levels, encouraging subordinates and showing confidence in subordinates' abilities.
Contemporary theories: In contemporary theories the whole concept of leadership has been evolved. Leadership of twentieth mostly focused on directive and autocratic leadership. Now new concepts related to leadership has emerged. Charismatic Leadership: All research done on traits of leadership forgot one main trait present in all leaders: leaders are charismatic people. A charismatic leader is an enthusiastic and self-confident leader whose personality and actions influence people to behave in certain ways. They don’t force people to follow them. People follow them because they want to do so. They inspire people to act like them and to follow them. Transformational Leadership: All the leadership theories studied in the past focused on transactional leaders-who guide or motivate their followers in the direction of established goals by clarifying role and task requirements. Another type of leadership has also been recognized as transformational leadership. Leadership is a process that changes and transforms individuals and groups. Transformational leaders provide individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation and posses' charisma which will transform the followers. Transformational leaders are also innovative and open-minded people. Participative Leadership: Now leaders make decisions only after some consultation from followers who would be affected by leadership. Leader has to focus on each follower. Leaders don’t only have to direct or guide but they also have to facilitate. Some people even think that the term “directive” will totally become obsolete for leadership by 2010. New terms for leadership will be persuasion, negotiation, stimulating, and high levels of networking. People will look to leaders as specialists who can aggregate widely diverse resources who can they collaborate to produce results.
Team Leadership: Leaders now make teams and become their team leader. As a team leader they perform the major functions which are 1) to help the group determine which goals and tasks it wants to achieve; 2) help create enabling processes and direct the group so that it achieves performs the tasks and achieves the goals; 3) keep the group supplied with the right resources, training and supplies; 4) set standards for behavior, success and ethics; 4) diagnose and remedy group deficiencies; 5) forecast impending environmental changes to help steer the group; 6) help maintain and defend the group by organizing it and insuring its proper internal functioning.
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