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Leadership is the art or process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically toward the achievement of group goals. It involves establishing goals and motivating people to achieve them. The key elements of leadership are power, a fundamental understanding of people, the ability to inspire followers, and the style of the leader and the work climate he or she creates. There are four broad categories of leadership theories: trait theory, behavioral theory, situational or contingency theory, and transformational theory. The trait theory was the result of an attempt to identify the traits that leaders possess. According to this theory, the traits that are generally related to leadership ability are: leadership motivation, drive, honesty and integrity, self-confidence, cognitive ability, and so on. When it became evident that effective leaders did not seem to have a particular set of distinguishing traits, researchers tried to study the behavioral aspects of effective leaders. This give rise to several behavioral theories of leadership, which include: (1) the Iowa and Michigan studies, (2) the Ohio State studies, (3) Likert's four systems of management, and (4) the Managerial Grid. All these have been discussed in detail in the chapter.
The use of the trait and behavioral approaches to leadership showed that effective leadership also depended on many variables such as organizational culture and the nature of the tasks. No one trait or style was common to all effective leaders. Researchers, therefore, began trying to identify those factors in each situation that influenced the effectiveness of a particular leadership style. This resulted in the formulation of different situational (or contingency) theories of leadership. These are important for practicing managers, who must consider the situation when they design an environment for performance. The four popular situational theories of leadership are: (1) Fiedler's contingency approach to leadership, (2) the path-goal theory (3) the Vroom-Yetton model, and (4) Hersey and Blanchard's situational leadership model.
The last leadership theory discussed in the chapter was the transformational theory of leadership. A transformational leader is one who motivates individuals to perform beyond normal expectations. Such leaders inspire subordinates to focus on goals above their self-interest and to use their abilities to perform extraordinarily well. According to Bernard M. Bass, a transformational leader displays three qualities: (1) charismatic leadership, (2) individualized consideration, and (3) intellectual stimulation.
Definition and Meaning of Leadership
Key Elements of Leadership
Trait Theory of Leadership
Situational or Contingency Theories
Transformational Leadership Theory