LEADERSHIP THEORIES: What Every Leader Needs To Know.

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Experts say that good leaders have strong moral convictions and high moral standards. Leadership theory is the study of how and why certain people become leaders. The focus is on qualities and actions that every person can take to improve their leadership skills. This article talks about transformational, situational, and contingency leadership theories and practices.

Leadership Theories and Practices

Scholars have come up with many theories to try to explain why some people are destined to be in charge. The focus is on leadership skills that can be taught to others. Leaders also think that having high moral standards and a strong sense of ethics is important for doing well in their jobs. Here are the following examples of leadership theories and practices below:

#1. The Functioning Theory

The functional theory of leadership looks at how an organization or workplace is run instead of focusing on who is in charge. Functional leadership also doesn’t depend on one person to get things done. Instead, it relies on the group as a whole.

#2. Integrated Theory of Psychology

Integrative leadership is a new type of leadership that aims to help people work together across traditional boundaries for the good of society as a whole. In this approach, ideas and practices about leadership from business, government, NGOs, the media, and the public realm are brought together.

#3. The Theory of Traits

The great man hypothesis is built on the trait theory of leadership, which says that successful leaders have a set of shared traits in their personalities and how they do their jobs. However, these qualities make them good leaders who can do well in many different situations. It supports the idea that some people are more likely to be leaders because of the way they are made. The interests and personality traits of productive people are very different from those of average people.

#4. The Leadership Theories of Situational

Like leadership contingency theories, this approach stresses the importance of context and says that a leader must change with the times in order to reach goals and make decisions. Some leaders are more open to change than others, and this is often because of how skilled and committed the team is as a whole.

#5. The Leadership Theories of Contingency

The contingency hypothesis says that there may not be a single best way to run a business. However, the balance between looking inward and outward is the best way to lead a company to success. According to the theory of contingencies, the best candidate is the one who fits the situation.

#6. The Leadership Theories of Transformational

The transformational theory of management says that the relationship between managers and those under them can be good for the company as a whole. Also, this way of thinking says that great leaders inspire their teams to do the best work they can. Leaders give their teams an end goal and motivate their people to work toward it.

Transformational leaders boost the morale and enthusiasm of their workers, which makes them more productive. However, managers who do a good job of leading by example motivate their teams by what they do, not by what they say. A popular type of management theory is transformational theory.

During the Industrial Revolution, the transactional theory was set up to help businesses make more money. It’s a way of running an organization that recognizes how important formal structures are for getting the most work done. 

Managers who value order and discipline tend to motivate their employees by making them follow strict rules. According to this idea, staff members get paid when they finish the tasks they were given. The idea is also based on the idea that employees are required to do what their boss tells them to do.

Transactional leaders keep a close eye on their teams and support them when it makes sense and correct them when they need to. But these top managers do nothing to help their companies grow. Instead, the organization puts a lot of weight on following its own rules and standards.

#7. The Behaviorist Theory

This theory says that a person’s leadership skills grow naturally over time. To be a good manager, you need a wide range of learning skills. The behavioral approach is different from the idea of leadership because it says that leaders can be made, not born. So, a person’s leadership skills don’t come from their natural traits, but rather from what they do. Anyone can be a leader if they have the right training and direction.

#8. Theory of Behavior

The behavioral leadership idea says that people can learn to follow a leader’s actions by watching them and doing the same things. Because design theory is so common, it suggests that, unlike natural leadership skills, teachable behaviors can be developed to make good leaders.

Behavioral theories of leadership put a lot of weight on a leader’s actions that can be seen by others. The idea behind this is that a leader’s actions are the best way to predict how successful they will be in the long run. The behavioral learning hypothesis says that actions are more important than traits. To do this, we can group different ways of acting into “leadership styles.” Leadership styles range from focusing on tasks to focusing on people to being bossy to keeping things the same.

#9. The Great Man Theory

One of the oldest ideas about leadership is that leadership qualities are innate. This idea says that leaders are born, not made and that they can’t be taught. This theory says that there are natural traits in people that make them good leaders, such as:

  • Glamour.
  • Decisive.
  • Wisdom.
  • Daring.
  • Assertiveness.
  • Appeal.

One of the most important ideas behind this method is that people can’t be taught to be good leaders. This trait is either present or absent. Some skills come naturally, so you can’t teach them or even get better at them by doing them more.

What Is a Leadership Style and Theory?

Leadership theory is all about what makes a good leader. Psychologists study and improve the theory of leadership, and academics look for patterns in how good leaders act. They think about many parts of being a leader, such as:

  • Actions that show who a person is.
  • Methods of Making Decisions About the Environment.
  • How information is taken in and when.

What Keeps People Together in Leadership?

The way a leader directs the work of the team is his or her leadership style. Each of these formalized ways of leading has its own unique features that came out of research into theories of good management. Here are some examples of different ways to lead:

  • A coach is someone who can help their clients figure out their strengths and weaknesses, help them set goals they can reach, and give them honest feedback.
  • A leader with a vision: makes the people they lead feel confident and excited.
  • People who are service-oriented put the happiness of their coworkers first.
  • Taking control of things, like in an autocratic or authoritarian government.
  • Leaves subordinates to their own devices, so they can do their jobs with little to no supervision.
  • Democratic: open to and interested in different points of view. In other words, he or she sets the pace and makes sure that strict criteria for results are met. Follows a strict chain of command and stresses that everyone on the team does things the same way.

Leadership Theories Situational 

Theories of leadership assume that the leadership practices that work best in different situations will change based on the situation. However, the effectiveness and success of a leader depend on his ability to change his approach and style based on what’s going on. 

The situational leadership theories popularized by Dr. Paul Hersey (author of “The Situational Leader”) and Kenneth Blanchard (author of “The One-Minute Manager”) is sometimes referred to as the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory.

Methods of Leadership Situational

Hersey and Blanchard say that there are basically only four ways to lead a group:

  • Statement 1 (S1): In this model, the leader tells the team what to do and how to do it.
  • In this type of sales approach, S2, the leader and the people they are trying to convince talk to each other more. Leaders must “sell” their ideas and messages to the group in order to get them to agree with their plans.
  • Approaching (S3): In this mode, group members are encouraged to be more involved in coming up with ideas and making decisions, and the leader has less control over them.
  • To Delegate (S4): Leaders who follow this style tend to be less active. Most of the time, it’s the people in the group who make decisions and take the most blame for what happens.

Different Stages of Growth in Leadership Situational

What makes a good leadership style depends a lot on the maturity level (i.e., the level of knowledge and skills) of the people or group being led. The theory of Hersey and Blanchard shows that there are four stages of development:

  • Assumption 1: No one in the group has what it takes to get the job done.
  • Group members want to do well, but they don’t have the skills to do so (M2).
  • Even though they know how to do the job and have the skills, group members are avoiding taking responsibility (H3).
  • Assumption 4: Everyone in the group is ready to do their part and has the right tools. 

Putting Differences and Skill Sets Together in a Leadership Situational

The way a team’s leader runs things can show how mature the team is. Also, based on the Hersey-Blanchard model, these types of leadership are recommended at these ages:

There are three stages of development, with telling (M1) being the first and participation (M3) being the last (S3), Very Old (M4)—Taking the Lead (S4).

The situational approach to leadership avoids the problems that come with a single style of leadership by recognizing that there is more than one way to solve a problem and that leaders need to be able to look at the situation and the maturity levels of their subordinates to figure out which way will work best at any given time.

So, situational theories focus more on how the different people in a given situation interact with each other.

Leadership Theories Transformational

Effective management literature says that leaders who are transformative can get their followers to work toward the same goals. However, under this idea, workers treat the company’s goals as if they were their own. 

This is very different from transactional leaders, whose main goal is to give people reasons to do certain things. Transformational leadership is based on getting people to grow personally and professionally and showing them that they can have faith in the group’s future.

Background on Theories Transformational Leadership

James MacGregor Burns, a presidential biographer, and expert on leadership, is credited with coming up with the idea of transformative leadership for the first time. Burns says that when transformational leadership is in place, “leaders and followers push each other to a higher level of morale and motivation.”

Later, researcher Bernard M. Bass built on Burns’s work to make what is now known as his Transformational Leadership Theory. Bass says that the most important part of defining transformational leadership is how a leader affects the people who follow them. However, Bass says that people who follow transformational leaders trust, respect, and admire them.

Techniques of Transformational Leaders

Transformational executives usually use one of four different skill sets or approaches to get their teams to work toward the goals of the company.

  • Magnetism is being able to get and keep people’s attention and respect.
  • A leader can get people to follow him or her by coming up with a compelling vision.
  • Challenges to the mind: The leader pushes the team to think outside the box, which sometimes goes against the way things have always been done.
  • Personal Interest: The leader is interested in the subordinate as a person.

Leadership Theories Contingency

Contingency theories of leadership take into account both the leader and the situation in which he or she acts. Several theories of leadership look at situations to see if a certain approach will work or not. When a leader changes how he manages based on the specifics of the situation, he is able to have the most impact. A certain amount of flexibility is needed to be a leader in a contingent.

The contingency theory of leadership says that different types of leadership work better in different situations. Fred Fiedler, a psychologist who was born in Austria and taught at the Universities of Illinois and Washington, is thought to be the founder of the current theory of leadership based on circumstances. Here are the following important parts of the hypothesis:

#1. Having a Wide Variety of Leadership Skills

The contingency theory of leadership says that businesses do well when the people in charge take on different roles, which lets a variety of leadership styles thrive.

#2. It Comes Naturally to Reach Goals and Show a Strong Sense of Leadership

The contingency theory says that companies shouldn’t put pressure on leaders to change their strategies all the time based on new information, because this could make the leader’s style fixed and hard to change. Instead, companies should put their leaders in jobs where they can do well.

#3. Habits Are Built Into the Way the Brain Works

Fiedler says that the success of great leaders depends on having the right conditions. In other words, the strengths and weaknesses of a leader may be shown depending on the situation. Fiedler’s contingency theory says that things that need a leader who is good at delegating power should be given to a leader who is good at that.

Why You Should Think About Your Leadership Style

When you think about how you lead now, you can find out what you do well and what you could do better. Think about the good things about you and the things you could improve. Think about the principles of leadership that you most agree with and that you would like to follow. 

You can learn how to improve as a leader by taking stock of your strengths and weaknesses. Also, different situations call for different ways to lead and different ways to think about leading. However, you can focus on one method or try a combination of methods to see what works best for you.


If you work with or manage other people a lot, it might help you to understand the different theories and styles of leadership. During the interview process, potential employers may also try to figure out how good a leader you are, so it’s helpful to know how you like to lead.

Leadership Theories FAQs

What do theories about leadership mean?

Theories of leadership seek to explain the conditions under which certain people develop into leaders. People’s leadership potential can be developed by adopting certain traits and behaviors.

Who came up with the idea of being a leader?

Bennis, an American professor, consultant, and author is widely recognized as an early innovator in the study of leadership in the modern era.

What are the advantages of theories of leadership?

  • Ability to grow and nurture future leaders.
  • Modes of behavior can be molded to fit different situations.
  • Modifiable actions that can be quantified.
  • Flexibility in dealing with variety.
  1. SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP: Models and Qualities
  2. LEADERSHIP STYLES: 7 Most Effective Styles 2023
  3. LEADERSHIP TRAITS: Top 7 Qualities of an Effective Leader
  4. Yield Curve Theories: Understanding the Yield Curve Theories
  5. HOW TO BE A LEADER: Becoming the Leader of Your Dreams
  6. HUMAN RELATIONS: Meaning, Theory, Workplace, Commission & Importance.


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