You are on page 1of 28

Governance and Leadership

Theories of Leadership

Yonas T.

Department of Governance and Development Studies

Jimma University

J. M. Burns’ book on political leadership marked major transition in the development of leadership theory.

He was the first to conceptualize leadership as a social process involving leaders and followers with common

goals. His work focused on “transforming leadership”.

His theory elevated the significance of followers and the leader-follower relationship in the leadership equation.

Other subsequent theories are largely influenced by the works of Burns.

Six major theories:

1)Transforming Leadership 2)Transformational Leadership 3)Transactional Leadership



1) Transforming Leadership

According to Burns (1978), transforming leadership occurs when:

-“one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to

higher levels of motivation and morality”.

Although initially separate, the purposes and goals of both leaders and followers become fused.

Leaders play a major role in shaping the relationship with followers.

Burns believed that leaders are commonly more skillful in:

  • - “evaluating followers’ motives, anticipating their responses to an initiative”, and

  • - “estimating their power base”.

Transforming leadership, in the end, is a moral process because leaders engage with followers based on shared motives, values and goals.

Burns asserts that only followers can ultimately define their needs.

This implies that followers must maintain freedom of choice between real alternatives.

Transforming leaders operate at the highest stages of moral development.

Burns asserted that transforming leaders are “guided by near-universal ethical principles of justice…”.

-including human rights and respect for individual dignity.

Nevertheless transforming leadership is grounded in conflict.

Conflict is often compelling, because it galvanizes and motivates people.

Leaders don’t shun conflict; they embrace it by both shaping and mediating conflict.

2) Transformational Leadership

Developed by Bass (1996) built upon Burns’ original idea of transforming leadership.

Bass began by empirically examining Burns’ theory and calling his revised theory “transformational theory”.

The terms may seem nearly identical. Nonetheless, there is an important distinction:

(a)Burns’ theory focuses more on societal reform by moral elevation of followers’ values and needs;

(b)Bass’ transformational leadership focuses on attaining practical organizational objectives.

Bass (1985) said that transformational leaders are able to achieve three things:

(a)make followers aware of the importance of task outcomes

(b)induce followers to transcend personal interests for the sake of the team or organization, and

(c)move followers toward higher-order needs.

As a result, followers feel more confidence in the leader and report feeling great trust, loyalty, and respect.

The most commonly accepted transformational leader behaviors comprise four categories:

(a)idealized influence;

(b)individualized consideration;

(c) inspirational motivation; and

(d) intellectual stimulation

3) Transactional Leadership

Transforming and transformational leadership do contrast with transactional leadership.

In transactional leadership, the leadership relationship is limited to the leader’s ability to appeal to followers’ self- interest.

The appeal is for the purpose of an exchange of valued things.

Transactional leadership behavior refer to activities that help clarify expectation for direct reports.

It helps direct reports achieve desired rewards and avoid punishments, and help facilitate desired outcomes.

Transactional leader behaviors commonly comprise three categories:

(a)contingent reward;

(b)management by exception(active);

(c)management by exception(passive).

Although transformational and transactional leader behaviors are distinct, they are not necessarily mutually


Bass asserted that effective leaders make use of both types of leadership.

Transformational leader behaviors enlist enthusiasm and commitment.

Transactional behaviors achieve compliance with leader requests.

Recent versions of transformational and transactional theory include third category leadership: laissez-faire.

This category represents an absence of effective leadership and the type of leader who is passive or indifferent to direct report.




Idealized Influence

Leaders serve as outstanding models.

values and connect them with organizational goals and

They display conviction, emphasize important personal


ethical consequences of decisions.



Leaders articulate an appealing vision of the future and

challenge followers’ high standards and expectations.

Leaders provide encouragement, optimism, and purpose for what needs to be done.


Leaders question old assumptions and stimulate new


perspectives and innovative ways of doing things. They encourage followers to think creatively to address current and future challenges.


Leaders provide a supportive environment and carefully


listen to followers’ needs.

Leaders also advise, teach, or coach their followers with


the intention of advancing follower development.




Contingent Reward

Leaders offer followers rewards in exchange for desired efforts.

Behaviors in this category revolve around clarifying

expectations and exchange of promises.

Management by

Leaders observe follower behavior and take corrective


action when followers deviate from expected



Management by

Leaders choose not to, or fail to, intervene until a


problem becomes serious.


In essence, leaders do not intervene until a problem is brought to their attention.






Leaders avoid accepting responsibility and delay or even fail to follow up on requests.

This type of leader behavior also includes little

or no effort to address followers’ needs.

It is essentially an absence of leadership.

4. Followership

Researchers have proposed this as a theory that describe the leadership capacities of followers.

It aims to raise the importance of the role of followers in the leadership process.

This by no means minimizes the relevance of leaders but rather enhances the understanding of the vital roles that followers play in the leadership relationship.

Hence, the theory gives due recognition to the role of followers in leadership.

Effective Followership

Kelly (1988) asserted that what differentiated effective from ineffective followers are their enthusiasm,

intelligence, and self-reliant participation.

He described a two-dimensional model that explained follower behavior:

a)The degree to which followers exercise independent and critical thinking;

b)The second ranks them on a passive-active scale.

Based on the two dimensions, four categories of followers emerge.

Independent, Critical Thinking

Alienated Followers

Effective Followers



“Yes” people

Dependent, Uncritical Thinking

  • a) Sheep: are passive and generally unwilling to accept


-They typically complete tasks given to them but rarely demonstrate initiative beyond tasks.

  • b) “Yes” People: are more involved but are equally

unwilling to demonstrate innovation or creativity.

  • c) Alienated followers: express critical and independent

thinking but are passive.

-Although they rarely openly oppose the leader, they are often cynical and disgruntled.

  • d) Effective followers: think for themselves in carrying

out tasks and bring energy and enthusiasm while

demonstrating initiative and assertiveness.

At the center of the diagram are survivors who tend to adapt and survive change well but live by the slogan

“better safe than sorry”.

Four Qualities Shared By Effective Followers:

a)they manage themselves well;

b)they are committed to the organization or purpose outside themselves;

c)they build their competence; and, d)they are courageous, credible and honest.

Effective followers openly disagree with the leader and are not intimidated by hierarchy.

Because they demonstrate initiative, they rarely need elaborate supervisory systems.

5. Servant Leadership It is first proposed by Greenleaf in his 1977 work.

For him, the primary responsibility of leaders is to provide services to others.

Spears (1995:2-5) asserted that the servant leader emphasizes:

-service to others; -a holistic approach to work; -a sense of community; and -shared decision making power.

For the servant leader, taking care of other people’s needs takes highest priority.

Servant leadership, in essence, is a philosophic approach to life and work.

It is a way of being that has the potential to create positive change throughout society.

Characteristics of a Servant leader a)Listening to others;

b)Empathy: accepting people for their talents, spirits, etc;

c)Healing: mending broken spirits;

d)Self-awareness: aides and strengthens the leader;

e)Persuasion: convince rather than coerce; f)Conceptualization: capacity to “dream great dreams”;

g)Foresight: using past and present experiences to determine future decisions;

h)Stewardship: affecting greater good of society; i)Commitment to growth of people; and,

j)Building community in a giving work institution.

Comparison with other models

Source: Graham (1991).




Servant Leadership




Source of Charisma

Divine Gift

Leader Training and Skills

Humility, spiritual insight

Situational Context


Unilateral or

Relational (mutual)

distress of Followers

Hierarchical power


Nature of Charismatic Gift

Visionary solutions to distress

Vision for organization: Adept at HRm

Vision and practice of a way of life focused on service

Response of

Recognition of


Emulation of leader’s


genuine divine gist


service orientation

Consequence of

Followers’ material

Leader or

Autonomy and moral


well-being improved

organizational goals met

development of followers:.


Other theories: Highlights

1)Great Man Theory

It assumes that the capacity for leadership is inherent that great leaders are born, not made.

These theory often portrays great leaders as heroic, mythic and destined to rise to leadership when needed.

The term "Great Man" was used because leadership was thought of primarily as a male quality, especially in terms of political-military leadership.

The great man theory of leadership became popular during the 19th-century.

2) Trait Theory Similar in some ways to "Great Man" theory.

It assumes that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership.

Trait theory often identifies particular personality or behavioral characteristics shared by leaders.

The scientific study of leadership began with a focus on the traits of effective leaders.

This theory postulates that people are either born or not born with the qualities that predispose them to success in leadership roles.

That is, that certain inherited qualities, such as personality and cognitive ability, are what underlie effective


There have been hundreds of studies to determine the most important leadership traits.

While there is always going to be some disagreement, intelligence, sociability, and drive (aka determination) are consistently cited as key qualities.

End of Session!