Describe psychological theories of leadership

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Introduction

Describe psychological theories of leadership Leadership is the process whereby one individual influences other group members towards the attainment of defined group or organisational goals (Yukl & Vanfleet 1992). Often the leader of a group is the one who holds a particular title e.g. manager or head teacher. There are such things as informal leaders. Thus a group leader can emerge and be a person with no title or status. Those leaders emerge because they possess characteristics that the group members value. The Universalist Theories of Leadership all focus on one thing; that leaders have key characteristics in common. Psychologists believe people with these key traits will always emerge as leaders and be successful regardless of the situation. The Great Man- Woman theory is another explanation of leadership. This theory states that great leaders posses key traits that set them apart from most human beings. The theory also contends that these traits remain stable over time and across different groups. Therefore it suggests that all great leaders share these characteristics regardless of when or where they lived and their precise role. In the Trait Approach psychologists have tried to identify specific traits that leaders posses. Traits are consistent and involved identifying physical and personality attributes including height, appearance and energy levels. It was found that leaders tend to be slightly taller than their followers.

Middle

Fieldler 1967 contigency model of leadership states the effective leadership depends upon a match between behavioural style and the degree to which the work situation gives control and influence to the leader. Evaluate psychological theories of leadership The theories that I have looked at seem to only be theories and show very little evidence to support them. For example the Trait approach was finally concluded that there is no difference solid trait that is found in all leaders (Hollander 1985). Although Stogdill's identification of a number of leadership tendencies, they still conclude that no reliable or coherent pattern of characteristics can be identified. Also the Great Man- Woman theory failed to produce any solid evidence to support the theory. A great deal of research has been done on the two types of leadership style put forward and they are in agreement that leadership behaviours do fall into two categories Fieshman and Harris). These studies have also found that initiating structure is correlated to work performance, but is negatively correlated to job satisfaction, and leads to an increase in staff turnover. Consideration leaders tend to be positively correlated to job satisfaction, and negatively correlated to work performance. The contingency theory worked in practice in the laboratory but when put into practice didn't seem to have the same results. The reasons why they carried out the experiment in a laboratory is because it is very easy to manipulate the independent variable.

Conclusion

The leader selects the best approach by answering some questions about the situation. These relate from the quality of the decision to the acceptance of the decision. Using the trait approach the participant could be asked to list the qualities they believe are essential for their job, e.g. nursery teacher active, quick, skilful etc. Using these traits they could look at how to improve these traits and use them more in their work. I think once they are aware of the necessary traits they can try to use them more effectively. Also in job interviews if the interviewer knew what traits to look for in the applicant they could find a more effective employee. The behavioural theories could be used to educate people into the types of leadership categories of behaviour, initiating structure and consideration. If they were shown the benefits and flaws of each style and how there is a need for a mix of each style of behaviour, they could become more effective leaders. I think that leadership is something that people presume can't be taught it is something that is innate or that is learnt at a very young age. If people understand that there is ways of making their leadership a lot more productive I think they would try to learn. If they are shown the research done by psychologists they can at least think for themselves how to improve their own personal behaviour. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachel Adlard

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