Leadership Theories

For managers to be successful in their role, they need to have leadership skills. And for leaders to lead successfully, they must be able to manage their peers, employees, and stakeholders well. Leadership and management are not the same, but they go hand in hand with each other. In this blog, we’ll discuss the leadership theories that every manager should master in 2021. It is essential that a manager helps their peers feel empowered, inspired, and engaged. Thus, knowing these leadership theories will help sharpen leadership skills and create an environment that fosters productivity and increases engagement. 

Key Leadership Theories

There have been several studies conducted that focus on leadership, and this has led to an increase in leadership theories as well. Most of these theories are put forth by researchers, philosophers, and cognitive experts who study what goes into making a successful leader. With the help of these theories, you will understand the traits and behaviours that may help an individual develop their leadership skills and manage their team in a better way. 

With that being said, let us now move on to learn more about the leadership theories that every manager needs to know.

1. Contingency Theory 

The contingency theory proposes that there is no single management style and leadership that can be applied to every situation. This theory recognises that several different variables can influence a situation. A leader must be able to choose the right path of action after considering all these variables. 

In regards to this, researchers Hodgson and White stated that leadership’s effectiveness depends on striking the perfect balance between context, needs, and behaviour. Successful leaders are the ones who not only possess the right traits but also have the ability to assess the needs of their followers, the ability to analyse particular situations depending on the variables and to act accordingly. 

2. Situational Leadership Theory

Similar to the Contingency Theory, this theory focuses on the importance of situational factors and variables. It does not consider any particular leadership style to be better than the other. Paul Hersey, a US professor and leadership guru, Ken Blanchard, feel that the situational theory comprises two main factors – the maturity level of the followers and the leadership style. The situational leadership theory suggests that different situations call for different leadership styles and decision-making styles. A leader should be able to act by judging the situation that they are put into. 

Leadership Theories

3. Transformational Leadership Theory

Also known as Relationship theory, the transformational leadership theory mainly focuses on the relationship built between the leader and followers. It talks about the kind of inspirational leader and encourages followers to become better at their tasks. They are charismatic and transform their followers to perform better. 

These leaders are the ones who are motivated to show their followers that there is a greater good involved in performing a certain activity. They also want to make their followers understand the significance of a particular task. A transformational leader is now only focused on team performance and gives the individuals in the team a chance to reach their potential. It will help them sharpen their leadership skills. 

4. Transactional Theories

Also known as Management theories or exchange theories of leadership, transactional theories mainly revolve around supervision, teamwork, and organisation. In this theory, the basis of leadership is rewards and punishment. It is often used in businesses, and rewards are given to the employees to motivate them to perform better. 

5. Great Man Theory of Leadership

One of the earliest forms of leadership, the Great Man Theory of Leadership, assumes that a leader has inborn skills and is not made. They are born. The theory suggests that a person capable of leading a group of people has certain personality traits such as confidence, intellect, charm, communication skills, and social aptitude. The theory believed that these skills are present within a leader from birth and thus sets them apart. 

This theory presumes that you already possess the leadership qualities from birth and cannot be learned. This may sound quite discouraging if you want to learn the ropes of leadership, but you must know that several modern theorists dismiss this practice. The Great Man Theory is an interesting take on leadership and highlights the qualities of leadership that have remained unchanged over a period of time.     

6. Behavioral Theory

In behavioural theory, the emphasis is placed on the leaders’ behaviour and actions as opposed to their traits or qualities. This theory is in sharp contrast to the Great Man Theory and considers effective leadership to be a result of learning various skills or acquiring skills over time. An individual can learn how to be a leader. This theory is often known as the best leadership theory. 

7. Trait Theory of Leadership

Walking in the footsteps of the Great Man theory, the trait theory assumes that most leaders are born with the traits that make them suitable for leadership when compared to others who are born without these natural leadership traits. The trait theory of leadership pinpoints certain traits or qualities such as accountability, intelligence, a sense of responsibility, creativity, and more. These qualities allow an individual to excel in leadership. The biggest flaw of this theory is not offering a conclusive list of traits that are considered to be leadership traits. However, it showcases the significance of traits that are supported by the particular research and helps you improve your leadership skills. 

Conclusion

This brings us to the end of the blog on the top leadership theories that every manager must master in 2021. These theories are based on different ways of thinking. While some of these theories are based on qualities and traits, some focus on situational aspects that may influence a leaders behaviour. Leadership is multidimensional. Several factors go into becoming a successful leader. In the business world, leadership will always remain one of the most important skills. If you wish to learn more about leadership and management, join Great Learning’s PG Program in Management today. The course will enable you to learn the top managerial skills required to build a rewarding career. 

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