Nature of Leadership Essay

703 Words May 20th, 2006 3 Pages
The large numbers of research papers and readings that exist on the nature of leadership theories underlines the importance that modern society ascribes to leadership. This paper will provide a brief overview of the significant contributions made to our understandings of the nature of leadership by theorists in the first half of the 20th century. The reasons as to how and why notions of leadership and management changed during this period will be reviewed.
A review of the literature indicates four main generations of theory. These are (i) Trait theories: there are certain attributes which make a great leader. (ii) Behaviour theories: great leadership is based on what someone does. (iii) Contingency theories: interaction between leader
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House, R.J. and Aditya, R.N 1997 (p410) note that researchers identified several studies in which traits were associated with measures of leader effectiveness. Such findings were seldom replicated in multiple studies. The relationships between leader and follower were ignored and the model does not explain how leaders influence others to achieve goals. Also the situational context not taken into account.
The Behavioral School of leadership assumes that leader behaviours are crucial for explaining performance and other organizational outcomes. This body of knowledge was influenced by behavioural research in psychology and grew as a response to better model leadership. On a conceptual level it focuses on tasks and relationships with others in the organisation This model resulted in the development of more leadership behaviour identification tools. eg Blake and Mouton developed leadership styles comparing and contrasting different levels of concern for people against concern for task.
Behavioural Models of leadership ignores interactions between leader and followers and proposes no explanation of the success of effective leaders in motivating groups of diverse people to work synergistically to achieve organisational goals.
Kotter, J. (1990) points to the development of leadership theories as a response to the emergence of large numbers of complex organization. He describes the necessity of good management to ensure

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