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Fundamental of Leadership

Essay by   •  April 15, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,046 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,415 Views

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Leadership is a concept that at times can be vague and ambiguous. And is not an easy subject to explain. Various interpretations of leadership exist, each providing a insight in Leadership (Gill 2009). So what is the exact make-up of leadership? It has been described as a concept that means different things to different people so can be applied in many different ways (Sternberg and Vroom 2002). So to generalise leadership consist of power relationship between a leader and followers and leadership can be view as "a process whereby an individual influence a group of individual to achieve a common goal". (Northouse 2010)

Over the years various theories have emerged which help give a clearer insight into Leadership. One of the earliest models to emerge was the trait theory known as "The Great Man Theory" which suggests that certain individuals are born leaders due to personality traits. Stogdill (1948, 1974) cited in Northouse (2010) conducted several researches into this concept and identified that traits were positively associated to leadership and identified several characteristics, these included intelligence, alertness, insight, responsibility and self-confidence to name a few. The "Great man Theory" due to centuries of empirical research, has shown how important major characteristics are used towards effective leadership. Nevertheless, one major criticism is the lack of application, as individual personal attributes are relatively stable; hence traits are not transferable, so this theory is not considered useful in the training and development of leadership (Northouse 2010).

Another leadership approach which is widely used as a training tool is the style approach. This concept suggests that a leader portrays two types of behaviours, that being "task behaviour" where an approach to leadership focuses on supervision of group members to obtain consistent work method and accomplishment of the job and the alternative being "relationship behaviour" which focuses on the social and emotional needs of the individual within the group. (Blosi et al 2007 pp. 654) The style approach proposed to explain how leaders could apply both behaviours to influence individuals towards a common goal. A popular explanation can be found in Blake and Mouton (1964).Leadership Grid (Figure 1)

(Figure 1)

One of the major fault of the style approach is that it is not seen a refined theory providing a neatly organized set of perception for leadership behaviour. Some have suggested that it is more a framework used as an indication for a particular leadership style. (Northouse 2010)

Another leadership approach gaining greater popularity than the management grid is the situation approach which focuses on the leader in the situation (Gill 2009). A popular model pioneered by Hersey and Blanchard (1969) which relates four leadership styles - directing, coaching, supporting and delegating. The model fits between leaders' characteristics, followers' attitudes and behaviour and situations in terms of task. The crucial factor being that the style of the leader and the work group situation can be matched (Gill 2009). Leadership style are measured via a set of questionnaires which asses the leader ability and is a useful tool in helping leaders learn different style across different situation. However critiques have deemed the questionnaire biased in favour

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