Leadership Theories and Styles

Introduction

The role of leadership is very crucial as it provides a team, an organization, or an individual with a plan and the direction required as well as the timeline for accomplishing a given task. Leaders are expected to avoid the conflict of interests by prioritizing the aims and objectives of the group/organization that they head as opposed to their personal gains. Thus, sobriety is very crucial in the practice because the individual who assumes the role of a leader is regarded as the captain of the project; hence, the loss of direction in leadership implies failure of the institution under his/her management. Leadership is not a simple activity as it has theories as well as styles that need to be correctly applied on various contexts to achieve the desired goals, and the same are discussed in this essay.

Definition and Background

Leadership refers to skills that are practical in nature and that enable an individual or an organization to guide/lead other people or teams in the accomplishment of a common goal. The definitions vary across continents as well as countries, but the mutual agreement is that the people involved in the practice should be at the forefront during execution of given tasks. In the United States, the term is defined as influencing people socially in order to solicit for support/aid from the other individuals to successfully execute a collective task that has a common good (van Vugt & Ahuja, 2011). It draws inspiration from either community goals, an individual’s quest for power of controlling others or a combination of the two factors. Howell (2012) argues that a leader must possess either one of the attributes or a combination of several of them. These attributes are psycho-energetic leadership that entails intellectual capabilities, courage, determination, and motivation that are depicted through communication and behavior. There is also primal leadership characterized by physical power, control over others, superiority and awesomeness. In addition, there is micro-leadership/competency in running specialized tasks as well as macro-leadership/ability to manage the overall project. Spiritual leadership entails possession of rich values, morals and wisdom, and project leadership is epitomized by the ability to lead in the project implementation.

There also exist leadership theories that include traits theory, behavioral and style, situational and contingency theory as well as functional theory. The styles of leadership include authoritarian/autocratic, democratic/participatory, laissez-faire, task oriented and relationship-oriented style among others. Due to the complexity of leadership, the concerned individuals must make informed decisions especially on the approaches as the contexts may require different approaches. Leadership applies in many fields/careers, and the type of leadership may vary in different sectors.

Leadership Theories

Several theories are useful for leaders as their views shape the leadership skills of the person on the lead. The traits theory dwells on the inherent characteristics of a leader such as intelligence and others, and it states that leaders are born with leadership or they inherit it. Behavioral and style theory focuses on how the leader behaves, and thus, confidence, positive ego, strong personality, and high esteem are essential. Situation and contingency theory states that the situation/matter at hand creates a leader. Functional theory emphasizes on what a leader does to improve the performance of his/her organization. However, all these theories have flaws that make them weak; for instance, the proponents ignored the personal leadership level. To address the short fall, Scouller (2011) proposed three leadership levels, namely public leadership and private leadership, both of which dwell on the behavioral aspect, and the personal leadership that entails attitude towards other people, skills, and psychological expertise. The above levels gave birth to the integrated psychological theory that emphasizes on leadership presence that implies that a leader must possess the qualities of leadership as opposed to self-proclaimed leadership. Thus, the theory incorporates the trait, situational, functional and behavioral theories and goes further to strengthen them by entrenching the issue of leadership presence and the personal leadership (Scouller, 2014). The theory further emphasizes on the authenticity of leadership, whereby ethics, promotion of trust, and a good relationship with the followers are essential. Servant leadership is another component of the theory, and it entails sharing of power, valuing the interest of others, and perceiving oneself as a servant of the people as opposed to their master.

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The Best Theories for Leadership in Education and Health Management

In the field of health or education management, the characteristics, behavior, and contributions of a leader as well as situational leadership are essential; thus, most theories are crucial. However, the integrated psychological theory is the best alternative as it incorporates the assertions of the other theories and further strengthens them by addressing their flaws. Apart from possessing the above-mentioned attributes, the medical or academic director needs to know that he/she is a servant of the people, and thus, should value the subordinate employees and appreciate their effort of serving the public who are assumed the masters. The individual should additionally possess the required leadership skills necessary in the medical or education field, good attitude towards other people, and the psychological know how all of which are essential in dealing with the subordinate workers as well as different situations. The directors of education and health also need to be authentic by observing the work ethics, good work relationship, and promotion of trust as stated in the theory because the junior medical/teaching staff need to be on good terms with their leader to improve their output in the provision of medical services.

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Styles of Leadership that Are Beneficial to Education and Health Managers

Styles of leadership mean the manner in which the leading person motivates people, gives directions, or executes plans. The best style should cater for the interests of the whole group as well as those of the individuals. The approaches may differ in various situations; for instance, during emergencies, urgency may not allow room for discussions, and therefore, autocratic/dictatorial style may be the most appropriate one. Under the normal operations, the democratic style of leadership is suitable in the medical or education field as it calls for the participation of all the workers involved, decentralization of decisions, and the need for consensus. For the employees in both fields to execute their duties well, their opinions regarding the medical/academic situation in the field need to be considered to boost their morale. The task-oriented style is also suitable as it directs the focus of the leader on to the health/educational issues in question and further facilitates the formulation of a procedural solution to the issues and these may include treatment, prevention, and therapies. The style also considers the timelines set to deal with the issue as well as the target results. The relationship-oriented style is also crucial, as its aim is to create and maintain a team (Ebert & Griffin, 2010). Communication, satisfaction, and welfare of the members are important as per this style; thus, it is very crucial in the provision of medical/education services since such issues cannot be tackled single-handedly.

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How Directors Government Departments Affects the Performance of the City Manager

The practice of democratic leadership styles in the departments promotes participation, consensus, and decision-making through incorporation of various opinions. This boosts the morale of public servants, improving their productivity, which in return builds a reputation for the city manager. When decisions are made democratically, the implementation becomes simple because the majority of the workers are satisfied with the issues. Consequently, the city manager has an easy task of only overseeing the activities in his/her jurisdiction, which improves his/her performance.

The task-oriented approach emphasizes on the need to take care of the various aspects surrounding the problem in question, and these include procedural solution to the issue and results as well as strict adherence to the timeline. When these issues are addressed in the government departments, services are provided with ease and thus, the city manager is deemed a good performer due to the ease in solving problems in his/her geographical area of administration.

The relationship-oriented approach aims at creating and maintaining teams in organizations, with an environment that creates satisfaction and trust amongst the employees (Ebert & Griffin, 2010). When government departments adopt the approach, the workers are motivated to work hard, hence improvement of the provision of services. The style also minimizes workers’ grievances, boosting the image of the city manager in the eyes of the public.

Strategies for Overcoming Leadership Weaknesses

Having a vision, the person on the lead should figure out what he/she wants to achieve on behalf of the organization and thereafter draft a plan for realizing the dream. The plan helps in setting milestones that should be reached at given timelines, which will consequently improve the performance on the organization. The plan also allows room for improvement at various stages and promotes flexibility that improves results and boosts the image of the manager.

Forging friendship with the subordinate workers helps the manager to listen to their grievances as well as opinions as opposed to issuing orders only. The friendly relations improve the working environment by showing the managerial concern about the welfare and interests of the employees, which promotes productivity of the employees as well as minimizes grievances, thus boosting the competency of their leader.

Conclusion

In conclusion, all the theories of leadership are important but the integrated psychological theory holds more significance as it incorporates other theories such as trait, situational, functional, and behavioral theories and seals their loopholes of the other theories as well as strengthens them. Among the strengths of the theory are inner qualities of a leader that entail skills, attitude, and psychological expertise. Apart from that, the theory emphasizes on authentic leadership and servant leadership that entail legitimacy of the manager as a public. As per the theory, the leader must possess the leadership qualities that define his/her leadership capabilities. The choice of the styles of leadership that includes authoritarian, democratic, laissez-faire, task-oriented, and relationship-oriented styles varies in different contexts and situations but democratic style and the task-oriented style are the best ones as they promote participation and focus on the problem.

 

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