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Early Leadership Theory Relating to Tents-R-Us Case Study

Essay by   •  December 11, 2011  •  Case Study  •  2,417 Words (10 Pages)  •  3,226 Views

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1. Introduction

The following report was compiled to discuss early leadership theories relating to the case study Tents-R-Us, with citation to relevant literature throughout. The ones that are relevant include; the personality era which includes the great man and trait approach, also included is the influence era which includes power relations and the persuasive period. Within this report the background to early leadership theory will be outlined to give a basis of knowledge. The report is organised as follows; background to early leadership theories and the case study Tents-R-Us. The personality era discussing the concepts of the great man approach, which was based on that leaders were born to lead, Tents-R-Us will be linked to the literature. Trait approach which was a development on that of the great man, in which a group of traits were devised to determine what, is needed to be a leader. Once again Tents-R-Us will be linked to this area. The report will then delve into the influence era in which power relations and persuasion period will be discussed, Tents-R-Us will be correlated also to this literature. The report will then follow through to the strengths and weaknesses within the leadership style that has been connected to early leadership and determine whether or not there will be continued success and growth within Tents-R-Us.

2. Background

It has been generally noted that around the 1300's leadership was first known to exist, however the term only came into situ circa 1700's when the word leader was published in the Oxford dictionary. "Historical lines of thought on leadership have occurred within a relatively short time period...there is no recognition of dates when various eras' occurred" (Van Seters 1990). However it has been stated that there has been a natural order of occurrence and each era can be asserted to a specific time frame. Within the report early leadership theories are applied to the case study Tents-R-Us. Peter Ridge is an entrepreneur who owns Tent-R-Us and founded the company in 1999. The company originally hired tents out but now have branched out and grown the business further with packages. Peter Ridge is currently in the process of making a decision between two candidates to employ as a marketing executive. The two prospective candidates are Mhairi Kee an experienced marketeer within the hospitality industry and Susi Dome working within hospitality management. All three will be compared to the early leadership theories.

3. Personality Era

3.1 The Great Man Theory

In the mid nineteenth century leadership was first explored and the personality era born was that of "The Great Man Approach." The first writings known on this approach was that of Thomas Carlyle (1841) who discussed many great men in his book "heroes and hero-worship" such as Shakespeare and furthermore Galton s (1869) studied hereditary genius. Although Peter Ridge is indeed male and succeeded within his area of expertise which could be seen as great, there does not seem to be any relevance to the theory of the great man. As how can you effectively measure that Peter Ridge is within the concept of innate leadership. There is nothing within the case study that would state that his father or grandfather was a great entrepreneur. "Philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and William James firmly asserted that history would be different if a great man suddenly were incapacitated" (Van Wart 2003). This approach is consistent with great men changing, shaping and evolving history. A.O Bowden (1926) felt that the amount of personality credited to an individual should not be unjustly estimated by the degree of influence that he can exert upon his followers. Susi Dome has a consultative leadership style; she likes to incorporate not only her own ideas but also that of her fellow followers. With this supportive nature she will have a high degree of influence over employees.

Bass and Stogdill in their third edition book "The leadership handbook" discussed the hero worship of great men that myths and legends were important in developing a civilised society. That the greater the social injustice the greater the distorted vision of the leader. This is clearly apparent in an example of Sir William Wallace a great man whom changed history for Scotland and the Scottish people. He was fighting for a cause "Freedom" for the people. Myths and legends that were associated with him more reverent in the movie "Braveheart" claims such as being seven feet tall. Claims spread like wildfire from village to village about the amount of men he had indeed killed ranging from fifty to a hundred and so forth. Clanmcallister.org (accessed 30/10/2011 20:00) state William Wallace leadership qualities as extraordinary personal strength, undaunted courage, enterprising spirit, and dexterity.

Historically it was thought that individuals were innately born with the hereditary characteristics' of a leader. The theory was conceptualised from leaders already apparent within the world mainly leaders whom had birth right to lead. Herbert Spencer criticised the great man theory within his study of sociology effectively saying that he has to become a great man at the production of the society in which he lives and the influences within that society.

Although the early part of the personality era is important this was a building block that needed expansion, so personality traits were incorporated to expand on the great man theory.

3.2 Trait Theory

Trait theory is similar in nature to that of the great man approach in that traits of personality are considered to be inherent. Trait theory was explored in the early 20th century and was built on from the great man theory. Tead (1929) discussed trait theory as someone who held a specific group of traits that would evolve followers to complete a chosen task.

R. Bolden et al (2003) discussed that the trait approach stemmed from the great man approach and that trait approach was common within the military and is still used as a set criteria today to commission candidates. It's clear from the case study that Peter Ridge has quite a military style of leadership of command and control style. Bass (1981) stated that leadership is still classified as a critical factor in military success and has been continually recorded. Trait theories are qualities that are within a human being which constitutes a leader. Stogdill (1974) spoke about there being a list of leadership traits and related skills, he sees leaders as adaptable to situations, ambitious and achievement orientated, assertive, energetic, self-confident

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