Comparing and Contrasting Four Leadership Theories of Leadership

Subject: Leadership Styles
Pages: 5
Words: 1278
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: PhD

The trait theory

This theory was more used or pronounced in the 20th century. The writers Thomas and Carlo in their writings have explained the characteristics of a leader. Leaders have different characteristics from the people who are not leaders. These characteristics are inborn. People inherit the personality and character of which someone may be a leader or not. Individuals who come from the family where the parents are leaders will most of the times be a leader as well. These characteristics may include intelligence. A leader is a person who is intelligent; he or she can make sound decisions diligently. A leader is one also who is persistent. A person cannot stop insisting on something that he or she thinks is right. One who has the dominant characteristics, someone who can say something and the other people are willing to follow. He should have the winning image. However, someone who may be a leader in one field might not a good leader in another field. Different people have different leadership characteristics. People emerge as good leaders in different areas.

Although the trait theory is nice it also has shortcomings. It centers on a minute set of personal characteristics and features. It does not take the cognitive ability of an individual into consideration. Other people may not have the leadership characteristics but they can easily recognize or know what best to do when a matter arises. Other individuals may have the expertise in a certain area but do not have the perfect leadership characteristics. Leaders should have high problem-solving skills. Any company or organization requires a leader who can help in problem-solving (Nahavandi, 2006).

Management theory

This theory is also known as the transaction theory. It explains that a leader should have good management skills. The manager or the leader in an organization should be able to lead the others well. They should be kind of motivation to the other employees. Employees should be treated well so that they can be more productive in the work place. The employees should be rewarded when they do something good. Rewarding employees can be done financially or none financially. Employees on the other hand when they fail they can be punished so that they may repeat the same mistake another time. However this should be done well in a way that will not demoralize the employees. The leader should however reward the employees or the juniors fairly or justly (Avolio & Yammarino, 2007).

There should be no favoritism in rewarding the employees. The manager who is the leader is expected to play a big role in supervision and management of others. Supervision should be done as it will enable the leader to know the productivity of others. Supervision should also be well planned so that the people being supervised would not feel like they are being mistreated. The leader is also given an authority to train other individual on the new tasks or when they feel they are not performing well. The employees are expected to be trained in a good way that will encourage them to learn more.

A leader should have good communication skills. Good communication between the leader and the other employees will bring understanding among themselves. The leader should encourage others to air their views concerning any decision that is to be made. The leader should at most of the times having a positive mood. He should be able to transmit this positive mood to the team members. He should also have the affective tone. The leader who has a positive mood will definitely have the group affective tone. The way the leader operates will bring the impact on the productivity of the juniors. The leaders are the people who shape the work place. The management or the transitional theory is similar to the trait theory in that both explain that the characteristics of a leader are important to any leadership (Gilkey, 2008).

Behavioral or style theory

This leadership theory focuses on the behavior of the leader. After the trait theory, the research was done on the on the behavior of the individuals who were believed to have good leadership skills. The research found out that a leader is one who has a strong positive ego. Positive ego will result to a positive self esteem. Leader with a positive self esteem will be able to lead as he will have less doubt in himself. The behavior of a leader determines the behavior and the productivity of the juniors in an organization (Wren, 2006).

According to Fleishman, the juniors observe the behavior of the leader in two perspectives. One is the consideration structure. With this the leader will behave in a way that shows his or her supportiveness to the other employees. He will also show concern to them. When an employee’s has a problem, the leader will show concern to him encouraging them to be strong. Another perspective is initiating structure. Leader who works in this perspective focuses on the accomplishment of the task given to each worker. The junior must work hard to ensure that the task is accomplished within a specified period of time (Luftman, 2004).

The leader will therefore encourage the other employees to set a target. He may as well set a target himself for the employees. This will encourage them to work even harder. The employees who meet the set target should be rewarded and those who do not meet the target should be punished or motivated to work harder. The role of each employee should be clarified. The employees would work hard if their duties are clarified as they would not feel being depended on by others. The employees should be hold accountable for everything that takes place within his or her field. This will give the leader an easy way on supervision and monitoring of the employees. The initiating type of a leader is preferred to the consideration type as it encourages the employees to work hard thus becoming more productive to their employer. The behavioral theory is more similar to the trait theory since it outlines the characteristics of a leader.

Relationship theory

It is also known as the transformational theory. This theory focuses on the relationship between the leader and the juniors. Clawson (2006), explains that the way the leader relates with his team members has a great impact on the productivity of the group. A leader should have good communication skills so that he may communicate well with the team members thus bringing a good understanding between them. Members of the may have different traits therefore it is the work of the leader to understand each of them thus encouraging and motivating them to work even harder. The transformational type of a leader focuses much on the performance. He is interested on the way each person does his work.

The leader has a duty of motivating and encouraging the other team members to work harder so as to meet the set target. He should also encourage the team members and give them space to unleash their full potential. Each person should be given some freedom to work hard however; the leader should ensure that the freedom given to them is not misused. The behavioral type of a leader has been proven to have high standards of moral values.


Leaders are believed to be born and no made this is according to Carlyle1917. Leaders have certain traits and characteristics that distinguish them from the non leaders. Good leaders should be able to motivate their juniors so that they may meet the company’s objective. They should have good communication skills some that they may understand the team members.


  1. Avolio, B. J., & Yammarino, F. J. (2007). Transformational and charismatic leadership: The road ahead. New York: Elsevier
  2. Clawson, J. G. (2006). Level three leadership: Getting below the surface. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson
  3. Gilkey, R. W. (2008). The 21st century health care leader. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
  4. Luftman, J. N. (2004). Managing the information technology resource: Leadership in the information age. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall
  5. Nahavandi, A. (2006). The art and science of leadership. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson
  6. Wren, J. T. (2006). The leader’s companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York: The Free Press