Leadership can be defined in multiple accepted ways. However it is described, it encompasses the idea of the ability of some individual or group (usually the leader) to lead or influence others (the followers) to the attainment of certain goals and objectives.
The existence of leadership can only be confirmed by that of a followership and vice versa. A wide and significant academic literature with differing views on the nature of leadership is in existence and leadership styles have been identified to better define conditions under which behavior, transaction, transformation, or situation may be classified under a form of leadership.
Over time, leadership theories have emerged to help us with a better understanding of the nature and identification of leadership and its styles by identifiable variables such as situational factors. The “great man” theorists believe leaders are indeed born and they assume that the capacity for leadership is inbuilt. Gender issues were not on board when the “great man” theory was proposed because most leaders were male at the time.
Feature intellectuals accept without verification or proof the acquisition of certain personalities or behavioral qualities and traits that make them better suited for leadership. With an interest in the innovation of these features by a broad study of successful leaders, other people can become great leaders if they possess these characteristics. A problem with this theory and why it is difficult to use it to explain leadership is the inability to explain the non-leadership nature of people who possess those qualities but are not leaders.
Contingency theorists agree that there is no one best way of leading and that a leadership style that is effective in a certain situation may not be successful in others and that leaders who are very effective in a certain place and time may become ineffective when environmental variables are changed.
Human relational components like the perception of the followers tell on the nature of situational leadership which by definition suggests that the best action of the leader counts on a variety of situational reasons such as drive and ability of adherents and when an assessment is required, consequently, a successful leader does not only fall into a solitary favored technique. As far as this theory goes, the relationship between followers and the leader is another factor that affects both leaders’ and followers’ behaviors alike.
Yukl (1989) sought a combination of approaches by identification of constituent variables of a supportive follower’s efforts and proposed that leaders should work on the creation of an enabling environment that is accountable for successful followership so that the desired goals of the leadership can be achieved.
It is noted by Maier (1963) that leaders are usually directive in style for the fear of a failure of the follower’s rejection of a suggested command. Maier(1963) exclaimed that leaders should not only consider the likelihood of a follower accepting a suggestion but they should also adapt their leadership style to the follower development maturity based on the readiness and willingness of the followers to the execution of required tasks.
A big leap from the trait theory is the behavioral theory in its conceptualization that leadership qualities can be studied, understood, and practiced by leaders. Behavioral theories of leadership completely oppose the “great man” theory in its assumption that leaders are made, not born. The “great man” theory is built upon the assumption that leaders are born, not made.
In participative theories of leadership, the leader cautiously takes the effort of the adherents into consideration as they partake in the leadership. People are usually less competitive and more collaborative when they work on joint goals and when decisions are jointly made, the social commitment to one another is greater and followers’ commitment towards the attainment of group goals can be guaranteed by intuition. Whether or not the leader retains and uses this input, the followers feel more relevant and therefore committed to the decision-making process.
Also known to be democratic leadership, consultation, empowerment, participative leadership can acquire a fictitious redefinition when leaders ask for follower’s opinions and then ignore them. This leads to the loss of the sense of belonging which made the leadership style a participative one by definition. When any of these defining components of the leadership style is no longer feasible, the relationship between the leader and the followers gets a reevaluation and the understanding between both parties can no longer be said to be participative leadership.
Supervision and organization are some of the leader’s responsibility towards followers in managerial theories of leadership which is grounded on a method of compensations and retributions. This assumption is very similar to that of transactional leadership. I feel the relationship between these two styles of leadership can be said to be that of containment and I, therefore, conjecture that managerial leadership is a subset of transactional leadership. The difference may be the fact that managerial leadership is used mostly in business and it considers more of how motivation derived from the manager-subordinate relationship translates into results by inspired pulse direction from a non-pushy leader.
With a focus on followers’ performance by the individual as well as group achievement, transformational leaders motivate and inspire followers by injecting passion, enthusiasm, and energy into them. Whether directly or indirectly, an individual uplifting, as well as group uplifting experience, starts from the care an individual gets in others goodwill and action towards the individual’s goal. To a very large extent, selflessness is implied by this leadership style and as the saying goes, one good turn deserves another, the followers devote all available resources under their reach to the fulfillment of the leadership contract (Evans, 1970).
At the core of the transformational leadership style is a social exchange relation brought about by the commitment to constantly sell a clearly developed vision by the leader to the followers. The personal integrity and trust of a transformational leader are a part of the attractiveness seen by followers before a conscious choice to buy into the leadership is taken. Transformational leaders lead the charge and connect to the center of their followership by their attitude and action while making a continued effort to motivate and rally their followers to achieve common goals. Eventually, they transform the followers.
Followers are therefore the product of the change brought about by transformational management and they consistently request to be transformed in some way to be the leader.
As good as it looks, transformational leadership does have a flaw and it does not function in all circumstances. Like, for example, in organizations where people are happy as they are, a transformational leader will be frustrated and useless.
Burns (1978) views transformational leadership as more effective than transactional leadership where the appeal is to more selfish concern. He explains that transformational leadership brings about social values that encourage people to collaborate rather than work as individuals and as a group.
To Bass (1990), charisma is necessary for leaders to provoke strong emotions and to bring about recognition of the devotees with the leader. This identification with the leader implies a signature and an understanding of a binding contract by the follower. Loyalty and the ability to make sacrosanct sacrifices are also imminent by the identification.
Also noted by Bass (1990) are the moral foundations under which authentic transformational leadership is well established. According to him, these components and moral aspects should breed authentic transformational leadership.
The result of the study conducted by Kouzes and Posner (2002) revealed that people preferred certain characteristics to be seen in transformational leaders. Characteristics like honesty, forward-looking attitude, competency, inspirational ability, intelligence, fairness, broad-mindedness, supportiveness, straightforwardness, dependability, cooperativeness, determination, imaginative ability, ambitiousness, courageousness, care, maturity, loyalty, self-control, and independence.
In transactional leadership, a key assumption is that the workers are aggravated by compensation and penalty. Here, when followers agree to do a job (a transaction), they surrender all authority to the leader, and to fulfill their duties, they do what their leader instructs. While punishments are not usually mentioned, the transactional leader works through creating a clear modus operandi to establish what is required of the followers and the rewards they receive by adhering to the terms and conditions of their contract (Shafritz, Ott, & Jang, 2005).
Usually, transactional leadership starts with a negotiation between the follower and the leader. The implication of this is that the leader acquires the authority to guide and lead the follower for the purpose of fulfilling goals for which the follower agreed. Thereon, the transactional leader delegates responsibilities for which the subordinate is considered to be fully responsible. At times when the follower defaults in the fulfillment of his responsibility, the leader usually extends a correction hand by a chastisement so that a repetition may not occur.
Unlike the leadership theories examined earlier, the motivation in the transactional leadership style is money and or other mediums of exchange and or standards of deferred value. It is a very popular style in most organizations as the main aim of existence is to make a profit and or to maximize shareholders worth. To achieve the desired ends, the followers and leaders alike exchange their labor for the money they earn.
Vroom and Yetton (1973) relates the success of leadership to decision acceptance by followers. The quality of the decision of a leader becomes important because it is subjected to scrutiny by followers before it is being accepted. A resulting benefit of the nature of this system is a natural promotion of a check and balance for effective administration and the visibility of followers participation in the decision making process. Participation has a way of absorbing followers into the ownership of the leadership so that destructive criticism is at its barest minimum because the decision made by the leadership is always vetted before its acceptance. A disadvantage however is that matters that need urgent attention may not be accepted in a timely fashion if a consensus is not reached.
By a glance at the name, path-goal theory, one could suppose the meaning to be a leadership style where the leader sets the path to help the followers achieve the goal. A notable component of this leadership style is the sale of motivation by the leaders to the followers in the form of encouragement and support so that they can achieve the goals of the leadership. I see this leadership style to be very common in so many sectors of the academic world, from the teachings in class to the coaching on the field. The leaders (professors, coaches and other members of the administration) instruct the students so that the course objectives can be met. In addition, the leaders remove barriers that may stop the followers from achieving these set goals and they are also involved in increasing the rewards along the route in the form of grades and or promotion and or a future acceptance of followers’ requests for recommendation at the time they seek advancement into (other higher) levels of learning.
House and Mitchell (1974) described some more styles of leadership to add to our existing body of knowledge. In my view, they made an inquiry into the kinds of leadership style that are most commonly practiced by formal authorities like our government ministries. These government ministries consider our needs as followers of the administration and show concern for our welfare by creating a healthy, friendly and safe environment to live in.
Most people have what they perceive as the role of leaders, and they communicate these expectations to leaders when consultations and conversations are established. Leaders are influenced by these communications and conversation most especially if these messages are sensitive to the surrounding people. The communication of expected role of leaders in most cases helps leaders shape their expectation and behaviors around leadership.
After all these leadership theories have been considered in detail, a wise decision for a leader seeking to practice a leadership theory may either be to stick to one of these existing leadership theories or to formulate a new one from a combination of two or more of these already existing theories.
Theory of ‘Trabahsittra”
By my ranking of these leadership theories with a consideration of the morals and qualities they present, I will select the transformational theory as the first, followed by behavioral, then situational and transactional. Intuition suggest that we all seek improvements in one form or the other and whenever given the chance, we like to see ourselves transformed into better people so that we may later use the experience and power vested upon us by the transformation process to take responsibility in our families, our career and our nation with minimum discrimination, prejudice or hatred. Therefore, by the first three letters of the transformational, behavioural, situational and transactional leadership theories, I name my theory to be “trabahsittra” to imply a synthesis of the core foundational and moral values embedded in the definitions of these leadership theories.
In my leadership theory, the leader will call a (prospective) follower to a follower decision table to discuss expectations from both the leader and the follower as regards benefits and costs of belonging to the leadership and a leadership contract is signed by both the leader and the follower (Tannenbaum, and Schmitt, 1958).
After signing this agreement, an initiation ceremony is fixed to mark the swearing in and the empowerment of the follower. During the initiation exercise, the rules, regulations and leadership agreement is read out loud for the new follower’s hearing while the rest of the followers are witnesses. At this stage, the follower is provided with all necessary tools for him or her to serve the leadership without any form of discrimination, prejudice or hatred.
Under the trabahsittra leadership theory, consultation occurs periodically and followers can either accept or reject a decision made by the leader in a vote. The majority will always be the winner in any one election. All discussions will be concluded on the same day they are presented and deferrals shall not be permitted. During the periodic consultation, a reminder will be served on the state and nature of the leadership contract to serve as a reminder of the goals and objectives of the organization to the followers.
Collectively, followers can replace and regulate leadership and the conduct of this should be in a democratic manner whereby motions will be raised in consultation meetings and the majority in support of a motion gains the ground. Fines will be imposed on people who do not abide by certain rules and regulations and punishments will be imposed in the form of excommunication. Also, there will be the existence of a disciplinary and law enforcement committee to ensure that the leadership contract is abided by, and anyone found wanting in the fulfillment of her or his role should be reminded of the terms and conditions of his contract. The disciplinary and law enforcement committee will make timely decisions independent of the general consultation assembly by a discussion within its members. Ascension to the disciplinary and law enforcement committee will be from a vote by the general consultation assembly and this committee becomes independent afterwards. Decisions made by this committee will be final and may not be ratified by the general consultation assembly. Wherever necessary, they will impose a permanent contract disengagement of any member with the organization for unlawful engagements with and or within the organization.
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