What Leadership Means Essay

1577 words - 6 pages

What Leadership Means

Leadership is 'the behaviour of an individual when he is directing the
activities of a group towards a shared goal'. (Hemphill and Coons,
1957, p.7)

A leader is interpreted as someone who sets direction in an effort and
influences people to follow that direction. How they set that
direction and influence people depends on a variety of factors. To
really comprehend the 'territory' of leadership, one should briefly
scan some of the major theories, notice various styles of leadership
and review some of the suggested traits and characteristics that
leaders should have.

There are many leadership theories. Arthur G. Jago (1982) proposed a
framework that organizes leadership theories based on each theory's
focus and approach.

"Focus" refers to whether leadership is viewed as a set of traits or
as a set of actions.

Focus on Traits: Theories with such a focus see leaders as having
certain innate or inherent personality traits that distinguish them
from non-leaders. These personality traits are supposed to be
relatively stable and enduring.

Focus on Behaviour: Theories with this type of focus see leadership as
observable actions of the leader instead of personality traits.

"Approach" is concerned with whether a particular theory or model of
leadership takes a universal or a contingent perspective.

Universal Approach: This approach believes that there is a universal
formula of traits or behaviour for an effective leader. In other
words, the universal approach assumes that there is "one best way" to
lead in all situations.

Contingent Approach: Contrary to the universal approach, the
contingent approach does not believe the "one best way" formula. It
believes that effective leadership depends on the specific situation.

I am going to analyse two theories in detail, which according to me
appear contradictory are Blake and Mouton?s Managerial Grid Theory
(1978) under the head behaviour theories and Fiedler?s Contingency
theories under the head contingencies theory.

Behavioural Theories

For over 20 years, a major thrust in leadership research has focused
on the various behavioural patterns or styles used by different
leaders and the functions fulfilled by these individuals. This
research examined the impact that leadership behaviour had on the
performance and satisfaction of followers. From these studies, two
dimensions of leadership behaviour emerged.

Consideration: Consideration, also known as employee-centred
behaviour, refers to leadership behaviour that is aimed at meeting the
social and emotional needs of individuals and group members.

Initiating structure: Initiating structure, also known as job-oriented
behaviour, refers to leadership behaviour that is aimed at careful
supervision of employee work methods and performance levels.

Some research indicates that those leaders that were high in
consideration would be more effective than those who were high in

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