Have you ever wondered why some people go on to become inspiring leaders while others live their entire lives being a follower? Researchers have come up with leadership theories try to address this question by mainly focusing on the characteristics of a leader. These theories reveal behaviors that you can adopt to polish your skills and become an effective leader.
In this age, when there’s a shortage of good leadership it becomes essential to understand these philosophies and that is exactly what we are going to do in this article. Continue reading and learn about seven leadership theories that will help you blossom into the most effective leader you thought you could never be.
Top 7 Leadership Theories You Should Learn To Become a Great Leader
1. Management Theories
Popularly known as transactional theories, management theory lays a lot of emphasis on supervision, organization and teamwork. The management theory establishes a system of reward and punishment, which means if you do well, you will be rewarded and if you don’t, you will be penalized.
A task management software like TaskQue can help you in implementing this system by letting you track task progress and hold your employees accountable for their action.
2. Relationship Theories
Relationship theory is also known as transformational leadership theories. It revolves around the bond between leader and follower. The stronger the bond the better will be the results. Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their followers and keep them on the same page.
Such leaders usually have high ethical and moral values and would never compromise on these values irrespective of what the situation might be. They want to achieve their goal but also want each member of their team to contribute and perform at the potential.
3. Behavioral Theories
When it comes to leadership, the world is divided into two different camps. One thinks that leaders are made, while other camp believes that leaders are born. Behavioral theory sides with the people in the former camp and challenges the notion that leaders are born. As a result, it completely ignores all the qualities that set natural leaders apart from their trained counterparts. This theory puts its weight behind actions of leaders and advocates the fact that people can learn from their experience, observation and teachings to transform into a good leader.
4. Participative Theories
Leaders can be divided into two broad categories. One that follows the autocratic leadership style and makes decisions on their own. On the other end of the spectrum are those leaders who take input from others. Participatory theory backs the approach of the latter.
Leaders who follow participative theory welcome suggestions from team members and encourages them to speak up. As a result, the team members think that they have their say in the decision-making process. Although, the leader reserve the right to stop taking input but in most cases, they don’t exercise that right.
5. Trait Theories
As the name suggests, leaders inherit certain qualities and traits that make them stand out from the crowd. These qualities propel them to leadership status. The trait theory focuses on these personality traits. For instance, commitment, integrity and confidence are characteristics that are usually associated with a great leader.
By linking certain qualities with leadership, you are literally limiting its scope. What about people who possess these qualities but are not leaders. On the other hand, there are many examples of leaders who don’t possess these qualities but still lead the team well. Ronald Reagan summed it up brilliantly when he said, “The greatest leader is not one who does greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do greatest things.”
6. Situational Theories
Situational leadership theories encourages leaders to act by critically analyzing the situation. It argues that instead of following a single leadership style, you should change leadership styles based on the situation. For instance, there is a situation where a leader is the most knowledgeable and experienced, they should opt for an authoritarian style of leadership and take a decision on their own. On the flip side, they should let team members handle the situation if they are subject matter experts by following a democratic leadership style.
7. Contingency Theories
Contingency theory takes things to the next level and proposes leaders to take action based on certain variables instead of looking at the situation as a whole. Take all the variables influencing the situation into account before choosing a course of action.
According to leadership experts White and Hodgson, “Effective leadership is about striking the right balance between needs, context and behavior.” Great leaders focus on the needs of the followers, analyze the situation and tweak their behavior accordingly. Success in leadership hinges on multiple factors such as leadership style, relationship with followers and the situation.
I hope that this summary of leadership theories might have helped you in developing a better understanding about leadership. Which leadership theories do you use? Let us know in the comments section below.