LEADERSHIP THEORIES APPROACHES
LEADERSHIP THEORIES/ APPROACHES
Theoretical based: Theories always provided basis for the understanding of
different concepts. In this
lecture main focus ill be to understand theoretical concepts of Leadership.
These theories will also help
us to understand the behaviors and their relationship with the work environment.
Let’s discuss first the basic approaches/theories which will help us to
understand the other approaches
and theories directly related to leaderships.
Theory X and Theory-Y:
1. Theory X According to this theory, employees dislike work, are
lazy, seek to avoid
responsibility, and must be coerced to perform.
2. Theory Y the assumption is that employees are creative, seek
responsibility, and can
Theory X assumed that lower-order needs (Maslow’s) dominated individuals, and
Theory Y assumed
that higher-order needs dominated the individual behaviors.
Hawthorne experiments: The Hawthorne Studies were, without
question, the most important
contribution to the developing organizational behavior. These were series of
from 1924 to the early 1930s at Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne Works in
Cicero, Illinois. The
studies were initially devised as a scientific management experiment to assess
the impact of changes in
various physical environment variables on employee productivity. Other
experiments looked at
redesigning jobs, making changes in workday and workweek length, introducing
rest periods, and
introducing individual versus group wage plans.
The researchers concluded that social norms or group standards were the key
determinants of individual
work behavior. Although not without critics (of procedures, analyses of
findings, and the conclusions),
the Hawthorne studies did stimulate an interest in human behavior in
Leadership Theories/ Approaches
The above theoretical backgrounds and other similar studies provided basis
to develop leadership
Early studies were based on two theories:
1. Trait Theories (focuses on leader qualities/traits)
2. Behavior Theories (focuses on leader actions/behavior)
1. Trait Theory/Approach: the basic focus was on the traits of leaders.
Leaders are born with certain
traits which make them leaders. Common believes were that “Leaders are born, not
Leaders possess certain traits that make them leaders
Theories that attempt to isolate characteristics that differentiate leaders from
Attempts to identify traits consistently associated with leadership have been
Might be used as a basis for selecting the “right” people to assume formal
Some facts/basis about this trait theory is given bellow.
1. Qualities such as intelligence, charisma, decisiveness, enthusiasm, strength,
integrity, and self-confidence.
2. These responses represent, in essence, trait theories of leadership.
3. If the concept of traits were to prove valid, all leaders would have to
4. Research efforts at isolating these traits resulted in a number of dead ends.
5. Attempts failed to identify a set of traits that would always differentiate
6. However, attempts to identify traits consistently associated with leadership
have been more
7. Six traits on which leaders are seen to differ from non-leaders include
drive, the desire to
lead, honesty and integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, and job-relevant
8. Explanations based solely on traits ignore situational factors.
9. Possessing the appropriate traits only makes it more likely that an
individual will be an
10. He or she still has to take the right actions.
11. A major movement away from trait theories began as early as the 1940s.
Sir Francis Galton: One of the earliest leadership theorists Wrote
“Hereditary Genius” pub. 1869. He
believes “leadership qualities were genetic”. This theory assumes
physical and psychological
characteristics like basic intelligence, clear and strong values and high
personal energy that matters for
Edwin identified six traits for effective leadership:
1. Need for achievement
6. Supervisory ability
TRAIT APPROACH - People have special qualities that cause them to assume
leadership positions in
We can also observe following
common traits in the leaders which are very essential for the process of
• High energy level
• Task relevant knowledge
Behavioral Theories of Leadership:
According to this theory, there are behavioral determinants of leadership
which can be learned.
People can be trained to be effective leaders.
Some facts/basis about this behavior theory is given bellow.
1. It was hoped that the behavioral theories would provide more definitive
Personal Characteristics of Leaders
• Physical stamina
Intelligence and Ability
• Intelligence, cognitive ability
• Judgment, decisiveness
• Honesty and integrity
• Desire to lead
• Sociability, interpersonal skills
• Tact, diplomacy
• Drive, desire to excel
• Responsibility in pursuit of
• Persistence against obstacles,
a) If behavioral studies were correct, we could train people to be leaders.
2. We shall briefly reviewed during our lecture three of the most popular
a) Kurt Lewin’s studies at the University of Iowa.
Explored three leadership styles
• autocratic - leader dictated work methods
• democratic - involved employees in decision making
– used feedback to coach employees
• laissez-faire - gave the group complete freedom
– satisfaction higher with democratic leader
b) The Ohio State group.
• identified two dimensions of leadership
– Initiating structure
c) The University of Michigan studies.
– Studied leaders’ behaviors related to worker motivation and group
– Identified two dimensions of behavior:
• Job centered (Initiating Structure)
• Employee centered (Showing Consideration)
Are There Identifiable Leadership Behaviors?
1. One of the first studies; Kurt Lewin and his associates at the University
of Iowa. Three
leadership behaviors or styles: autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire.
2. An autocratic style tends to centralize authority, dictate work methods, etc.
3. The democratic style tends to involve employees in decision making, delegates
encourages participation in deciding work methods, and uses feedback to coach
a) Further classified: consultative and participative.
b) A democratic-consultative leader seeks input but makes the final decision.
c) A democratic-participative leader often allows employees to have a “say.”
4. The laissez-faire leader generally gives employees complete freedom.
5. Which one of the three leadership styles was most effective?
a) The laissez-faire style was ineffective on every performance criterion.
b) Democratic leadership style could contribute to both quantity and high
quality of work.
c) Later studies of autocratic and democratic styles of leadership showed mixed
d) Group members’ satisfaction levels were generally higher under a democratic
6. Tannenbaum and Schmidt developed a continuum of leader behaviors.
7. Tannenbaum and Schmidt proposed that managers look at forces within
within the employees, and forces within the situation when choosing their style.
8. Suggested that managers should move toward more employee-centered styles in
a) Such behaviors would increase employees’ motivation, decision quality,
morale, and development.
Why Were the Ohio State Studies Important?
1. The most comprehensive and replicated of the behavioral theories.
2. These studies sought to identify independent dimensions of leader behavior.
3. Beginning with over 1,000 dimensions, they eventually narrowed the list down
categories: initiating structure and consideration.
a) Initiating structure refers to the extent to which a leader is likely to
define and structure
his or her role and those of employees in the search for goal attainment.
b) Consideration is defined as the extent to which a leader has job
characterized by mutual trust and respect for employees’ ideas and feelings.
4. Research found that a leader high in initiating structure and consideration
employee performance and satisfaction more frequently than one who rated low on
consideration, initiating structure, or both.
5. However, leader behavior characterized as high on initiating structure led to
greater rates of
grievances, absenteeism, and turnover etc., for workers performing routine
Other studies found that high consideration was negatively related to
performance ratings of the
leader by his or her manager.
Leadership Dimensions of the University of Michigan Studies:
1. Two dimensions of leadership behavior, employee oriented and production
a) Employee-oriented leaders emphasized interpersonal relations, took a personal
in employees’ needs, and accepted individual differences among members.
b) The production-oriented leaders emphasized the technical aspects of the job,
on accomplishing their group’s tasks, and regarded group members as a means to
2. The Michigan researchers strongly favored leaders who were employee oriented.
What Did the Behavioral Theories Teach Us about Leadership?
1. Behavioral researchers have had very little success in identifying
between patterns of leadership behavior and successful performance.
2. What was missing, consideration of the situational factors that influence
success or failure?
Robert Blake and Jane Mouton
– Developed a managerial grid reflecting Ohio and Michigan dimensions
– The ideal leader has high concern for both production and people
1. A two-dimensional view of leadership style
developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton.
a) Based on the styles of “concern for people” and
“concern for production.”
b) Essentially represent the Ohio State dimensions of
consideration and initiating structure
and the Michigan dimensions of employee orientation and production orientation.
2. The grid depicted has nine possible positions along
each axis, creating 81 different positions
into which a leader’s style may fall.
3. The grid shows the dominating factors in a leader’s
thinking in regard to getting results.
a) The five key positions are focused on the four
corners of the grid and a middle-ground
4. Blake and Mouton concluded that managers perform
best using a 9,9 style.
5. The grid offers only a framework for
conceptualizing leadership style—it offers no answers
to the question of what makes an effective leader.