Description and Analysis of Various Leadership Theories

The Trait Theory of leadership stipulates that leaders have inherited and learnable skills. This statement denotes that not everyone can become a leader because not all individuals are born with the required abilities. However, the research findings indicate that many, if not all, leadership skills can be learned by every person. That is why it is not surprising that the given leadership theory is not popular today since it underestimates the role of personal involvement.

The Path-Goal Theory of leadership has specific advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it is effective because it highlights how motivating subordinates can help achieve positive outcomes. Another strength is the provision of people with specific recommendations on how to lead others. On the other hand, the theory is weak because empirical research fails to support its suggestions. This approach ignores a social context, denoting that it does not rely on flexibility and adaptability.

In the Leader-Member Exchange Theory, an in-group represents subordinates that should receive the most time and attention from their leaders. The latter invest more time and resources in working with these individuals to mentor them and achieve better outcomes. An out-group consists of members who should be treated using minimal contractual obligations. Leaders should find an approach to use the lowest amount of resources to deal with out-group participants and avoid discriminating against these people.

The definition of conceptual skills explains their poor importance in lower-level management. These skills refer to strategic thinking as well as allow leaders to consider an organization as a whole and offer directions for future development. Individuals need these abilities to formulate a company’s vision and value. Since representatives of lower-level management do not deal with these tasks, they do not need to develop conceptual skills that are a significant component of the Skills Approach to leadership.

According to the article by Plachy, leadership and management are different concepts. In general, leaders are responsible for stating a company’s vision and creating excitement among subordinates to make the latter believe in this vision. Simultaneously, managers deal with developing and offering specific actions to bring the suggested vision to life and prepare entire organizations to meet new challenges. Consequently, successful outcomes are achieved if a person manages to combine leadership and management skills and responsibilities.

According to the Situational Leadership Model, people choose among different leadership styles. The four leadership styles include directing (provision of clear instructions), coaching (offering direction and support to followers), supporting (low levels of directive behaviors), and delegating (providing subordinates with relative freedom of action). The development levels are the enthusiastic beginner with low competence and high commitment, the disillusioned learner with reduced motivation and higher knowledge, and the capable but cautious contributor with high competence but reduced commitment and motivation. Finally, the self-reliant achiever can impress with the required skills and enthusiasm to complete tasks.

Generalized cognitive ability can be roughly referred to as a person’s intelligence. It represents an individual’s overall level of brain functioning and their ability to be creative and solve existing problems. Simultaneously, the crystallized cognitive ability stands for those abilities that have been acquired by a person throughout their life. It is reasonable to admit that people should invest in developing their crystallized cognitive ability to improve their leadership skills and outcomes within the given sphere.

The four transformational leadership factors are idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Idealized influence refers to a leader’s charisma, meaning that this person should effectively influence subordinates, while inspirational motivation denotes that leaders bring enthusiasm and optimism to their followers. Intellectual stimulation implies that managers promote creativity and critical thinking among subordinates, while individualized consideration stands for the necessity for a leader to have professional and personal qualities to lead others efficiently.

The situational leadership model implies that leadership behaviors should be a response to a specific situation. Managers should analyze the context and select a particular response. The approach stipulates that leaders can choose among delegating, supporting, coaching, and directing behaviors. It is impossible to state which option is the most optimal because any of them can result in positive outcomes under different conditions. That is why leaders should be able to identify the required leadership model.

The Style Theory is also known as the Behavioral one because it stipulates that specific behaviors distinguish leaders from ordinary individuals. Thus, a person should learn a few skills and implement particular behaviors to be a successful leader. The task is to maximize productivity, establish connections among group members, and navigate change processes. However, one should admit that it is impossible to guarantee that implementing specific behaviors and mastering particular skills will lead to effective leadership.

Path-Goal leadership implies that managers should select their behaviors based on their subordinates’ characteristic features, while the leading focus should be placed on the motivation of the latter. Managers should choose among different behaviors, including directive, supportive, participative, and achievement-oriented. This list demonstrates that the selected approach is similar to the situational leadership model. However, the difference between the two refers to the fact that the Path-Goal approach considers employee motivation a significant and determining factor.

The Skills Approach implies specific strengths and weaknesses that will be described below. This model is beneficial because representatives of all management levels can rely on it to lead others. Simultaneously, it is intuitively appealing and understandable, denoting that managers can easily comprehend how to implement it. The approach is also disadvantageous because it is broad and fails to describe how the approach works. The model does not make it clear why and how specific skills promote leadership.

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