What happens to a person who is thrusted into a leadership position or a person who decides he/she wants to lead others? Would this person have to or need to take leadership classes in order to become a “good” leader or is this something that needs to be learned and nurtured by a mentor? According to Clawson (2006), “leadership is about managing energy, first in yourself and then in those around you” (p. 3). Clawson (2006) further adds that people have good ideas and believe in them but their energy is very low, therefore, they cannot effectively generate enough energy to lead others. This paper will examine four leadership theories, compare and contrast them, and examine how these theories can address contemporary leadership issues and challenges.
In the following table is a brief look at the four theories that will be highlighted in this paper and how they compare to each other:
Trait Approach: earliest used to study leadership, emphasizing the personal traits of leaders; the assumption is that certain people possess certain innate characteristics that make them better leaders than others.
Situational Approach: this approach is more focused on the contextual factors such as, nature of work performed by the leader’s unit, individual characteristics of the followers, or more specifically the nature of the work environment.
Transformational Approach: this approach is viewed as a process by which leaders and followers inspire one another to elevated moral conduct; feeling of betterment within each individual under this influence.
Fiedler’s Contingency Model: this approach states that effectiveness depends on two factors: the personal style of the leader and the degree to which the situation give the leader power, control, and influence over the situation.
Avolio & Yammarino, 2007, pp. 379-387
Looking carefully at these leadership theories, one could safely assume that the trait approach is likening to Fiedler’s Contingency Model because of similarities of the personal trait and personal style. Could we say that style and trait are synonymous? Style as defined by Encarta (n.d.) a way of doing something, especially a way regarded as expressing a particular attitude. Encarta (n.d.) defines trait as individual characteristic: a characteristic or quality that distinguishes somebody. For example: Leader X always approach problems with the attitude, “this is not as bad as it may seem”. Leader X’s style is calm and composed. Leader X’s trait is one of assurance that everything will be okay. If you look at the definitions and examples, these two approaches can be used synonymously.
On the other hand, the trait approach is on the other end of the spectrum from transformational approach. A leader who uses the Trait Approach may not always have the energy to inspire others as well as the energy to inspire oneself (Clawson, 2006). Trait leadership may or may not have the traits to be morally correct, which is what Transformational leadership is...