Within the scope of leadership, trait theory has had a significant place among theorists and practitioners. The crucial characteristic of this approach is the recognition that a leader’s traits cannot be gained by training and learning, unlike other theories assume. True leaders are to possess specific features from their birth. According to the mentioned theory, followers should adhere to the rulings of the leader firmly, given he or she knows better how to deal with a particular situation. The application of this approach is appropriate when a company is facing tough conditions and the leader is recognized among employees. This leader may use McClelland’s needs theory to motivate the staff, as strict leadership implies the need for achievement and power.
Path-Goal theory contrasts the one above as it belongs to the kinds of behavioral approaches. Leaders here can be trained and develop their professional traits. This specific theory involves the provision of goals to followers, as well as paths to achieving them. It is proper when a team has notable professionals but lacks experience within a specific situation. Vroom’s expectancy technique seems the best here to motivate employees because expectancy (the belief that more effort leads to results), instrumentality (the idea that there is a connection between activities – or paths – and goals), and valence (the extent to which rewards are valued) equal motivation, which aligns with Path-Goal theory.
Then, according to Scandura, “LMX (leader-member exchange) is defined as the quality of the working relationship developed with each follower and is characterized by more delegation of authority to those with high-quality LMX.” Hence, this theory implies a greater degree of interaction between a leader and followers. It may be applied when a leader has been working with a team for an expedient period and perceives and assesses its performance accordingly. McClelland’s motivation theory may also be useful here, as the leader still has substantial power and authority.
In transactional leadership, followers get motivated through rewards and corrective actions. It should be stressed that this theory’s primary difference from the ones above is that it takes into account the fact that employees are not a static element of the management system; they have needs that are to be satisfied. For instance, transactional leadership may be applied when an employee makes mistakes continuously, and there is always a leader who helps to correct them. The reinforcement theory of motivation seems appropriate in the given context as it assumes that awards are the best way to push personnel to great performance.
The fifth approach is called transformational leadership; the latter might be determined as behaviors that utilize considerable effort from a follower by making an emphasis on changes through formulating a new vision for a company. It seems visible that this theory can be used during the unstable market – or any other important – conditions when the mentioned changes are needed constantly. A noticeable extent of flexibility is a distinctive feature in the framework of the abovementioned theories. An integrated element of this approach is treating everyone within a team equally; thus, Adam’s equity concept of motivation will be useful here.
Finally, servant leadership is an approach that puts employees’ interests are the main elements of a management system. This is a good option for a company that follows the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility to the greatest degree. It is the most democratic and employee-orientated model of the discussed ones; hence, Adam’s equity and reinforcement motivation theories fit in this context.