For reasons to be discussed later, limitations in their mathematical framework initially made the theory applicable only under special and limited conditions.
The first problem is that the early searchers after traits often assumed that there was a definite set of characteristics that made a leader — whatever the situation. In other words, they thought the same traits would work on a battlefield and in the staff room of a school.
They minimized the impact of the situation Sadler They, and later writers, also tended to mix some very different qualities. Like other lists of this nature it is quite long — so what happens when someone has some but not all of the qualities?
More recently people have tried looking at what combinations of traits might be good for a particular situation. There is some mileage in this.
It appears possible to link clusters of personality traits to success in different situations, as Stogdill has subsequently suggested Wright Wright goes on to explore modern trait theories in a separate chapter — However, it remains an inexact science!
When men and women are asked about each others characteristics and leadership qualities, some significant patterns emerge. Both tend to have difficulties in seeing women as leaders.
The attributes associated with leadership on these lists are often viewed as male.
However, whether the characteristics of leaders can be gendered is questionable. If it is next to impossible to make a list of leadership traits that stands up to questioning, then the same certainly applies to lists of gender specific leadership traits! Behaviours As the early researchers ran out of steam in their search for traits, they turned to what leaders did — how they behaved especially towards followers.
They moved from leaders to leadership — and this became the dominant way of approaching leadership within organizations in the s and early s.
Different patterns of behaviour were grouped together and labelled as styles.
Despite different names, the basic ideas were very similar. The four main styles that appear are: Here leaders emphasize the achievement of concrete objectives.
They look for high levels of productivity, and ways to organize people and activities in order to meet those objectives. In this style, leaders look upon their followers as people — their needs, interests, problems, development and so on.
They are not simply units of production or means to an end. This style is characterized by leaders taking decisions for others — and expecting followers or subordinates to follow instructions.
Here leaders try to share decision-making with others. If you have been on a teamwork or leadership development course then it is likely you will have come across some variant of this in an exercise or discussion.
Many of the early writers that looked to participative and people-centred leadership, argued that it brought about greater satisfaction amongst followers subordinates. There were lots of differences and inconsistencies between studies.
It was difficult to say style of leadership was significant in enabling one group to work better than another. Perhaps the main problem, though, was one shared with those who looked for traits Wright The researchers did not look properly at the context or setting in which the style was used.
Is it possible that the same style would work as well in a gang or group of friends, and in a hospital emergency room? The styles that leaders can adopt are far more affected by those they are working with, and the environment they are operating within, than had been originally thought.
Situations Researchers began to turn to the contexts in which leadership is exercised — and the idea that what is needed changes from situation to situation.
Some looked to the processes by which leaders emerge in different circumstances — for example at moments of great crisis or where there is a vacuum. Others turned to the ways in which leaders and followers viewed each other in various contexts — for example in the army, political parties and in companies.
The most extreme view was that just about everything was determined by the context. But most writers did not take this route. They brought the idea of style with them, believing that the style needed would change with the situation. Another way of putting this is that particular contexts would demand particular forms of leadership.
This placed a premium on people who were able to develop an ability to work in different ways, and could change their style to suit the situation. What began to develop was a contingency approach.I am a couple classes away from completing my MBA through Northcentral University.
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