Leadership theories are making a buzz in light of recent and trending corporate scandals.

The Internet and social networking platforms are expressing both outrage and disbelief after the United Airlines customer service gaff.

As such, experts and the general population are scrutinising the concept of authentic leadership, citing that rank does not always denote capability.

Here are five major leadership theories that have made an appearance in both contemporary and historical times.

Leadership theories: different interpretations of great leaders

Transformational theory

One of the most popular and emerging of leadership theories, researchers also refer to transformational theory as relationship theory.

Leaders of this discipline focus on group performance, and motivate individual members of their teams to reach their true potential. Furthermore, these leaders characteristically have high moral standards.

Participative theory

Similarly, participative theory focuses on a leader taking into account the ideas and perspectives of surrounding parties. Group contributions motivate them, as opposed to making all the decisions independently.

Pundits believe that this leadership style results in higher commitment from followers. Thus, leaders of this discipline tend to contribute to an organisation’s overall success.

Management/ transactional theory

However, this leadership model focuses on the premise of rewards and punishments. This is a prevalent and traditional leading style where supervisors or managers establish clear tasks that employees need to accomplish.

When followers achieve these tasks to standard, they receive positive reinforcement. Should they fail, they are reprimanded.

Great man theory

Created in the 19 century, great man theory supports that leaders are born and not made. As such, it suggests that the qualities required to guide others are inherent traits, and part of an individual’s genetics.
As a product of its time, advocates reasoned that most great leaders were male. This outdated model also identified leaders as being imbued with mythical, heroic powers.

Behavioural theory

Conversely, behavioural theory proposes that effective leaders are made, as opposed to born. Learning the qualities that make up a great leader is the foundation for this perspective.

Furthermore, behavioural theory compares the methods of autocratic and democratic leadership methods to compare their respective achievements.

Research suggests that groups governed by an autocratic style will succeed as long as the leader is present. However, autocratic leadership tends to breed hostility.

On the other hand, democratic guidance fosters the same level of success as autocratic. Furthermore, group members express a higher level of positivity than their counterparts, and function efficiently when their leader is absent.


Read more:

What is leadership? We’re all scratching our heads