Paradigms of Leadership in Management.

Subject: Leadership Styles
Pages: 6
Words: 2193
Reading time:
8 min
Study level: PhD

Leadership is the art of influencing people in the manner desired by the leader towards the accomplishment of some common objectives and direct the organization to make it more cohesive and coherent. For the leadership to be effective the following factors or any combination of them must be put into consideration; the leader, the follower, the situation and communication.

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What makes leaders act the way they do can well be understood if we closely examine different types of leadership models.

Transactional Leadership

The assumptions of transactional leadership models are:

  • Reward and punishment make people to act responsibly.
  • With a clear and distinguished chain of command then it has been noted that social systems work well.
  • The manager is the supervisor when people have agreed to do a job and makes sure it is well attended to.
  • The role of a supporting staff is to do what they are directed by their managers without compromising.

In this model employees are given incentives which may include increase in status or pay raises in exchange for their efforts and performance (James McGregor Burns, 1970). The followers are provided by tangible or intangible support and resources by their leaders.

The model was first described by Max Weber in 1947 and later reviewed by Bernard M. Bass in 1981.Bass suggested that followers are motivated through a system of rewards and punishment. This has the implication that good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds punished.

Max Weber recognized transactional leaders as consisting of opinion leaders, group leaders, executive leaders, governmental/ party leaders and legislative leaders.

James McGregor reasoned that moral values were important to leadership. The transforming leaders dwell so much on ends but transactional leaders were more interested over the means. He suggests that only moral leaders can be transformational or transactional leader and this supports that moral leaders are dedicated to work while transactional leaders have the moral means to lead and transformational leaders are the most efficient and effective. Transformational leaders inspire and encourage the followers to exercise their own opinions and interests for the good of the group or organization regardless of culture. Both Bass and McGregor have unique ideas in that both they recognize that followers need to be motivated by rewards or else punished by not performing their task well. (James and Boas, 2007)

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Transformational Leadership

Effective leadership according to Bennis and Nanus can move organization from current to future states, identify potential opportunities for organization, instill within employees commitment to change and instill new cultures and strategies in organization that help the organization to achieve its mission, vision and objectives. (James and Boas, 2007).

Assumptions of transformational leadership are:

  • A person who inspires others is likely to be followed by people.
  • Great things are achievable only if one has vision and passion.
  • Injecting enthusiasm and energy in people will help in getting things done.

Roger (2006) asserts that leaders in general directly influence the organizations culture by demonstrating five behavior mechanism what they pay attention to measure and control; reactions to critical incidents within the organization, their role modeling, teaching and coaching, criteria for allocation of rewards, criteria used for recruitment, selection promotion and retirement.

According to Roger (2006) culture is a phenomenon that surrounds us all. To understand how leadership is created, developed managed and changed then culture cannot be ignored.. For one to understand the organization he/she must understand the culture.

Situational Leadership

Assumptions of situational leadership are:

  • Readiness and willingness of the follower to perform required tasks help the leader to adapt their style.
  • Four combinations of high/low readiness and willingness match the four leadership styles.

The four styles suggest that leaders should focus on the task in hand and/ or the relationship between the leader and follower is determined by how decisions are made.

A situational leader is one who can adopt different leadership styles depending with the situation. Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey created a model for situational leadership in the late 1960’s which was in the form of a grid. The leader should adopt the leadership style in terms of direction and support that he/she gives to his or her followers. The styles include Directing, Coaching, Supporting and Delegating. Effective leaders should be able to move around the grid for there is no one right style but also they should recognize which one fits them.

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For the situational leadership to work, one needs to go through a training programme to learn about how to operate effectively in all the leadership styles and how to determine the development level of others. The strengths or benefits of situational leadership is that it is easy to understand and easy to use. (James and Boas, 2007).

Leadership Theories

Leadership theories dwell on the qualities that exist and distinguish between leaders and followers as well as looking at situational factors and skill level between them. The theory can be classified as:

Great man theory

  • Assumptions: Great leaders are born but not made that is the capacity for leadership is inherent.
  • Description: Great leaders were regarded as hero and they were destined to rise to leadership when needed. It was noted that a few individuals from lower classes had the opportunity to lead.
  • Discussion: Most leaders were male and gender issues were not addressed when the great man theory was proposed. Most researchers were also male and the thought of a great woman was generally in areas other than leadership. (Mary and Paul, 1993)

Contingency theory

  • Assumption: The ability of leaders to lead is dependent upon various situational factors, which include; the preferred style, ability and behavior of followers and also other situational factors.
  • Discussion: As noted by Roger (2006) Hersey and Blanchard maintain that leaders should focus on variables related to the surroundings that determine which style of leadership is best suited for the situation. It was noted that no leadership style is best in all situations; success depends upon a number of variables including the leadership styles, qualities of the followers and aspects of the situation.

Behavioral theory

  • Assumption: It is believed that great leaders are not born but they are made.
  • Description: The theory focuses on the actions of leaders but not on internal states or mental qualities. It is believed that through teaching and observation, people can become effective leaders.
  • Discussion: It is easy to develop if both leadership success the actions of leaders are assessed.. Leaders should relate significant behaviors with success and also identify behaviors which contribute to failure. (Mary and Paul, 1993).

Trait theory

  • Assumption: It is assumed that good leaders inherit traits and certain qualities that contribute or make them become effective leaders.
  • Description: There was need to scrutinize and identify key behavioral characteristics or personality shared by prominent leaders in the society. However, the theory cannot be fully supported because there are people who possess such qualities of leadership but there are not leaders.
  • Discussion: Situational factors were regarded to be one contributing to people achieving and acquiring leadership positions as opposed to inherited traits. Through learning, people can acquire leadership skills. (Mary and Paul, 1993).

Participative theory

  • Assumption: Decisions of many people are better than that of one person alone. Where people are involved in relevant decision making they tend to be committed to actions.
  • Style: It has been suggested that leaders need to take the input and more so opinion of others into account if they want the leadership style to be effective. They should encourage contribution and participation from other members and help them feel more worth when it comes to decision making. However, the leader retains the right to allow what others contribute to the organization.
  • Discussion: Participative leadership can be ineffective especially when leaders ask for opinions from group members and then ignore them. This may lead to the members feeling betrayed and neglected. (Mary and Paul, 1993).

Management theories/transactional theory

  • Assumption: The theory assumes that people are motivated by reward and punishment. The social system will be effective or wok best where chains of command are clearly stipulated.
  • Style: Leadership is based on a system of reward and punishment. The focus here should be on the role of organization, supervision and performance of the others. Employees are rewarded when they perform or else punished in case of a failure.
  • Discussion: Performance is usually enhanced by reward and punishment. People will be dedicated to work in order to earn rewards and also avoid being punished. The limitation is that this is not always the case, the belief that all people are motivated by money or simple reward does not apply to all people.

Relationship theories / transactional theories

The theory focuses on the relationship formed between leaders and followers. Both they should work in harmony to achieve the results. The leaders however should motivate and inspire people if they expect good results from the task given. They normally emphasize on group performance but also put into consideration the individual attention as far as performance is concerned. More often than not they are regarded to have high ethical and moral standards.

Situational theories

  • Assumption: The theory assumes that the leaders’ action depends on a range of situational factors.
  • Style: Capability and motivation of the followers are the factors that affect situational decisions. Leaders therefore should not adopt a single style when making decision. Mutual relationship should exist between leader and the follower. Performance may be affected by how leaders perceive the follower and the situation as well as leaders perception of themselves.
  • Discussion: “Maier (1963) noted that leaders not only consider the likelihood of a follower accepting a suggestion but also the overall importance of performing tasks. Thus in critical situations, a leader is more likely to be directive in style simply because of the implications of failure.” The three forces that led to the leaders’ action were identified by Tannebaum and Schmidt in 1958 and they include: the forces in the situation, the forces in the follower and the forces in the leader.

Leadership styles

At one time consciously or subconsciously leaders use some of the leadership styles discussed below. In order to become more flexible, better leader then they needs to understand the leadership styles and their impact. The most frequently featured leadership styles are:

Charismatic leadership

Here, the leader exercises and injects enthusiasm into the team and is very energetic in driving the team to achieve the objectives. However, a charismatic leader sometimes can tend to believe in them than in their team. (Tony, 2002)This can consequently create a risk that can make a project or entire organization to collapse if the leader were to leave. There is a belief that for the organization to be successful, then charismatic leader must be present. Great responsibility is carried by leaders and therefore there is need for long-term commitment to the organization.

Democratic leadership/participative leadership

In an organization, democratic leaders make the final decision but they invite other team members to contribute in decision making process. This is very vital in that it enhances job satisfaction and develops skills of the employees. (Tony, 2002) Employees feel that they are in control of their task and therefore they are motivated to work hard. The advantage is that the end result is better and this contributes to improve in quality as well as dominating in the market.

Autocratic leadership

This is where leaders exercise high levels of power over their employees or team members. It is regarded as a form of transactional leadership. Team members are given few opportunities if any for making decision. (Tony, 2002) This affects the organization negatively in that it leads to high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover among employees. Creativity and experience of all team members does not benefit the organization and therefore many of the benefits of teamwork get lost. However, for the routine and unskilled jobs, this style can remain effective if it is planned and implemented well.

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Relations-oriented leadership

The responsibility of the leader is purely organizing, supporting and developing the people in the leaders’ team. Where people participate fully in decision making then it leads to good teamwork and creative collaboration. However if abused it can lead to failure to achieve the team’s goals especially when taken to extremes. (Tony, 2002) Both people oriented and task-oriented styles of leadership are mostly used by leaders.

Consideration or Initiation

In this style, the whole team is involved in decision making. Bearing in mind that values are increasingly important in which leaders achieve power on the basis of their values and ideals then the style proves to be important. However, leaders using other leadership styles have left behind people practicing these methods.

Action or Inaction

In this style, leaders emphasize only on getting the job done and consequently they can be autocratic. Their responsibility is to define the work and roles required, put structures in place, plan, organize and monitor the activities of the group members. Leaders are advised to put in consideration the well-being of their team if they expect good returns. (Tony, 2002)The style can suffer many problems of autocratic leadership with difficult in motivating or retaining staff members if leaders are not keen enough.


James R. and Boas, S. (2007). Follower-centered Perspectives on Leadership. New York, McGraw-Hill.

Mary, B. and Paul, S. (1993). Leadership Theories: A Critique and Its Implications for Management Education. New York, Prentice Hall.

Peter, H. and Nancy, R. (2007). Making a Difference: Leadership and Academic Libraries. London, Cambridge University Press.

Roger, G. (2006).Theory and Practice of Leadership. New York, Prentice Hall.

Tim Hatcher, Timothy, Gary Hatcher (2002).Ethics and HRD: A New Approach to Leading Responsible Organizations. London, Cambridge University Press.

Tony, K. (2002). Leadership Styles. London, Macmillan.