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There Is No Best Style Of Leadership

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"There Is No One Best Style Of Leadership".


This proposal will present what is actually meant by the term 'Leadership'. The historical perspectives of different styles of leadership. The positive aspects and drawbacks of different styles of leadership. How leadership has evolved over the years. What are the main determinants of a good leader? Why after so many years and after the evolution of so many approaches of leadership, there is still no one best style of leadership.


"The study of leadership rivals in age the emergence of civilisation, which shaped its leaders as much as it was shaped by them. From its infancy, the study of history has been the study of leaders -what they did and why they did it."

-B.M. Bass

There are a lot of different definitions of leadership, but the one that is quoted the most is as follows: "The process whereby one individual influences other group members towards the accomplishment of a set target or organisational goals." Leadership is basically a goal-directed activity in which the followers approve the path shown by their leader with the motive of achieving something. The important thing to consider here is why leadership is so important? Why are leaders always in the limelight? What personality traits are essential for being a good leader?

Leadership is one of the most examined phenomenons of social sciences. The importance given to leadership is not surprising at all, as all great revolutions have been started by strong charismatic individuals, which speaks volumes about the importance of leadership. Leadership is a complex and diverse field of knowledge and making sense of leadership research can become an intimidating endeavour. To understand the evolution of leadership, we need to understand the historical development that has taken place in this field. This can be done by explaining the major theories about leadership, which are as follows:

Great Man Theory

This theory explains that leaders are born, not made. You either have those leadership qualities in you or not. Only those men who are blessed with leadership qualities can ever emerge as leaders. Great leaders cannot be created, they arise whenever there is a need for them. A follower of this theory would be likely to study the Second World War, by studying the conflict between the big personalities like Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, etc. This theory lasted till the 1940s, as it did not take into account the human ability to think, learn and innovate.

Trait Theories

The scientific study of traits required for excelling in the field of leadership started at the turn of the 20th century. This theory emphasises on the importance of being inherited with leadership skills and choosing the right person for being a leader. For example, it is for a sales person if he/she is an extrovert because it can help him/her make useful contacts and be more helpful to the organisation. Although there are certain traits that are required to be a good leader, but in this case there is an over-emphasis on required traits. The list of traits of successful leaders is never ending and it is not essential to have similar traits for excelling. But overall this theory does give you a rough sketch of prerequisites skills for being a good leader.

Behavioural Theories

Pessimistic reviews for Trait theory gave way to Behavioural Theories in the 1950s. There were two major researches that were conducted. In the first research the focus was on the behaviour of leaders and how they treated their followers, is it autocratic or democratic or is it Laissez-Faire that is followed. This theory also emphasised on training people for leadership, i.e. influencing their behaviour. The second theory had two parts - the first part treated workers in a very harsh way, the workers were thought to lazy and stubborn, they had poor working habits and they were only motivated by money. The workers were to be given instructions and be controlled properly so that they did not go out of hand and they knew all the time who was the boss. The second part of this theory was politer, it took workers as human beings who worked hard, were very cooperative and had a positive approach towards work. Their goals should be incorporated in the group's goals. Both these theories have worked successfully over the period of time. But this theory gave a very one-sided view of things and did not explain properly the problems of leadership. Both the parts of this theory were two extremes, so you do not get a proper idea on what path to follow.

Contingency Theories

This theory explains that the leader's ability to lead is dependent upon various situational factors, including the leader's favoured style, the capabilities and behaviours of followers and various other situational factors. These theories also emphasise on the fact that there is no one best way of leading and that a leadership style that is effective in some situations may not be successful in others. This is explained by the saying that "Great war time leaders are normally worst peace time leaders." This explains how leaders who at times act like master of all trades and seem to possess to the 'Midas touch' suddenly appear to go off the boil and make very ineffective decisions.

Fiedler's Model

It is referred to as the LPC model. According to him, the best style of leadership is that which results in higher task performance by a group and this is said to be a product of two factors, The favoured behavioural style of the leader and related conditions in which the group operates. The three background variables that the appropriateness of a particular style are:

1) Leader-Member Relations 2) Task Structure 3) Leader Position Power

For example a manager might increase the number of people working in a particular process, it might result in greater output, but in another event it might have a negative impact. The problem with this theory is that it neglected the satisfaction of the team members (workers). The only criterion for the evaluation of the effectiveness of supervisor is the task. So this was a limited approach.

Hersey & Blanchard's Situational Theory

A leader should adjust his/her style according to the follower's eagerness



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