Compare and Contrast the Four Theories of Leadership
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Clawson (2006) states "Leadership has been widely studied over a long period of time, yet it remains an elusive phenomenon to understand and develop (appendix). A number of leadership theories have been developed with the goal of providing guidance and instruction to current and aspiring leaders. Clawson (2006) outlines six categories of leadership theories; "trait, behavior, power and influence, situational, charismatic, and transformational" (appendix). In addition to these six categories, moral leadership is a theory that is presented as leadership through a well defined set of morals. Leadership has definitions left open to interpretation however, according to Wren (1995), his definition of leadership is "a leader inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations-the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations-of both leaders and followers" (p.100). This essay will initially provide a basic definition of each leadership model; provide a comparison and dissimilarity of the transformational, charismatic, situational and moral leadership theories while outlining how each theory may address today's leadership issues and challenges. Transformational Leadership Transformational leadership is seen as a process in which leaders and followers inspire one another to elevated moral conduct (Clawson, 1996). Transformational leadership can be used to influence superiors and subordinates and when under the influence of this leadership, feel as though they are bettering themselves (Clawson, 1996). According to Avolio and Yammarino (2002), Transformational leadership has been shown to correlate positively with performance outcome measures ranging from growth in church membership (Onnen, 1987)
The charismatic leadership theory can be very useful for short-term projects for with this type of leadership, the group's success depends on the leader. Situational Leadership This type of leadership is based on the assumption that each situation is different and each requires a unique combination of followers, leaders, and leadership situations. Wren (1995) states "Situational leadership is an attempt to demonstrate the appropriate relationship between the leader's behavior and a particular aspect of the situation-the readiness level exhibited by the followers" (p.207). The leadership style varies from one individual to another depending on the follower's readiness level, competences, task areas, and their commitment to them. The situational leader's roles can be likened to a manager and parent at the same time. His leadership style changes when he is trying to influence and supervise someone. He can use any of the following leadership styles: directing, coaching, supporting, delegating depending on the situation that he is in. He can also use autocratic, participative or other leadership styles and techniques in order to succeed in the task. Moral Leadership Moral leadership is not just about preaching what is right or wrong or the insistence that one adhere to social conformity. Moral leadership emerges from a set of values. The idea behind moral leadership is to produce social change that will satisfy a follower's authentic needs. (Wren, 1995, p.483) A moral leader is cognizant of the impact of his leadership on those who follow.
Leadership Issues and Challenges Tichy & Devanna (1990) state "At an organizational level, we need to prepare our institutions to engage in the struggle for transformation. We must accept the challenge regardless of where we sit in the organization" (p.9). The primary challenge for an organization is to have the correct leader in place to achieve the organizational vision. This challenge is overcome by fully understanding the types of leadership, the qualities associated with each leadership type, and having the ability to see the leadership traits in the employees. Nahavandi (2006) states "Our past and our current knowledge base will guide us toward continued understanding of who leaders are, what makes them effective, and how we can all learn to lead better". History is cluttered with numerous scandals and corporate wrong doing due to ineffective leadership. When you have a charismatic leader leading an organization looking to transform into a global leader, the results may not be in line with what the organization envisioned. When looking at all the various leadership theories available, as an organization, it is imperative to fully understand the type of leader the organization needs. Perhaps the ultimate catch-all leader is a situational leader. Perhaps the ideal leader is full of charisma and brings life to a dead organization. Or further still, perhaps the organization is geared towards social upgrade and a moral leader is needed. No matter what type of leadership is needed, there is a theory designed to get the organization to achieve its goals.
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