In the early research, leadership was studied as a collection of personal traits or characteristics of those identified as leaders. Later, research emphasised on leadership as a series of acts, or a behavioural repertoire, designed to help a group achieve its objectives. Since the mid-1960s, attention has been directed toward developing "contingency" theories of leadership. According to Hersey et al. 1996 cited Tabassi et al 2010, p.246, one of the significant parameters of organisations in order to fulfil their goals is an understanding of the relationship between leaders and followers. Therefore quality can be achieved if management and workers believe in achieving successful leadership within an organisation.
Trait theory is based on the belief that leaders have different personality characteristics or traits than other people. Trait theory assumes that a leader is born with specific traits that make him or her good leader.
In order to achieve total quality leadership, leaders must firstly focus on the internal and external customers or who value his employees. There should be a culture of future improvement in the leader itself and must be able to see what can be done beforehand. Moreover leaders must be able to empower subordinates, encourage collaboration, committed to quality, train and coach, improve communication, encourage and recognise team effort.
Juran and Gruna (1993 cited Ehigie & Akpan 2004, p.25) opined that without the human mind, tools alone cannot help quality management to work and therefore organisations should focus on identifying true leadership traits. However every year new traits are added to personality, physical characteristics, and intelligence. Therefore it might be difficult in identifying the true leadership traits.
Behavioral Approaches to leadership
As the questions about how to measure traits continued to challenge trait theory, researchers began thinking about measuring behavior. According Tosi et al (1994, p.509) there are two classes of behavior: decision influence behaviors and task and social behaviors.
In the distribution of decision influence, leader behavior was described by Lewin et al (1939 cited Bhatti 2012, p. 193) in the following terms: Autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire leadership.
Autocratic leader makes all decisions and allows the subordinates no influence in the decision-making process. Autocratic leaders decrease morale of the employees and do not believe in empowering their employees. While democratic leaders involved followers in decisions and delegated much more responsibility to the group. The main key to attaining sustainable quality within an organisation is to motivate employees through empowerment to dedicate themselves to their work. Lewin et al (1939) concluded that democratic style of leadership is the most effective, but Smith and Peterson (1988) pointed that the effectiveness of group leaders is dependent on the criterion which was being used to assess leadership. Thus, if leadership is assessed in terms of productivity, then autocratic style is most efficient but if the role is seen as maintaining good morale and a steady level of work, democratic style is effective.
In laissez-faire leadership a supervisor allow their group to have a complete autonomy freedom and has no particular way of attaining goals. Deluga (1992 cited Limsila, & Ogunlana 2008, p. 166) stated that this style is associated with dissatisfaction, unproductiveness and ineffectiveness. Hence, it does not contribute much to quality because of its low emphasis on people and performance.
Task and Social Behaviors of leaders
Two very important programs of research on leader's behavior took place at Ohio State University and the University of Michigan in the late 1940s and 1950s. These studies identified two key behavioural categories - orientation toward task and orientation toward people.
The Ohio State and Michigan studies focusing almost exclusively on subordinates, deals with task- and relationship-oriented behaviours which may or may not be inherently customer-focused (House & Aditya, 1997 cited Lakshman 2006, p. 49). Thus leaders need to focus on all groups of customer (internal and external) and their satisfaction to achieve total quality.
Contingency Theories to Leadership
According to Yukl (2002 cited Yun et al 2006, p.375) a contingency theory "describes some aspect of leadership that applies to some situation but not to others [. . .] contingency theory may explain how leader behaviour typically varies from one situation to another". He provides an excellent review of contingency theory such as:
Fiedler's contingency Theory
The basis of Fiedler's theory is the extent to which the leader's style is concerned with relationship or concerned with task. The people-oriented leader is the one who, in order to comply with effectiveness and efficiency, supports, trains and develops his personnel, increasing job satisfaction and genuine interest to do a good job while the task-oriented leader focuses on the job, and concentrates on the specific tasks assigned to each employee to reach goal accomplishment.
This model is a decision-based theory of leadership. It holds that organisational decision should be of high quality. The model says that there are five different ways, range from autocratic, through consultative, to group focused, that the leader can make decision. Many total quality organisations are trying to develop the decision-making and problem-solving styles of subordinates. Thus more organisations are recognising the need for more participative decision-making styles. Hence the Vroom-Yetton model has some promise in that it can describe that trend.
This theory focuses on leadership from the viewpoint of motivating subordinates. The Path-Goal theory of leadership tries to explain leadership effectiveness as a function of the situation. It also stresses the leader's role in clarifying for subordinates how they can achieve desired rewards through job performance. The leader determines individuals' desired rewards (valence). Their role is to increase the subordinate's motivation to attain personal and organisational goals and hence to maintain quality.
Hersey-Blanchard Situational Theory
This theory tries to match the leadership style to the maturity of the followers. As the maturity of the followers increases, leadership should be more relationship-motivated than task-motivated. The leadership style should involve as follows:
Highly Immature Highly Mature
Telling Selling Participating Delegating
followers what to do ideas to followers with follower to followers
Transformational - Transactional Leadership
The transformational leader identifies the higher needs and motivations of their followers and initiates behaviours that focus on motivating their followers to perform at higher levels (Burns 1978 cited Laohavichien et al 2011, p.1050). Transformational leaders attempt to increase their subordinates' awareness of the importance of achieving certain outcomes and encourage their followers to go beyond their own self-interest for the sake of the larger group. Moreover transformational leaders engage their followers in developing their own capabilities and pursuing goals and objectives based on their own intrinsic motivation and hence lead to employee satisfaction. While transactional leaders view leadership as the exchange of one thing for another (i.e. transactional leadership is based on the exchange of rewards for effort).
Dean et al (1994 cited Laohavichien et al 2011, p.1050) found that several theoretical studies have suggested that transformational leadership is the type of leadership which Deming and others would consider to be the visionary leadership necessary for an effective QM program. Furthermore, these QM researchers also suggest that transactional leadership is not relevant for QM. Waldman (1994 cited Laohavichien et al 2011, p.1050) argues that transactional leadership may encourage short-term thinking, which would be detrimental to continuous improvement, while transformational leadership may stimulate teamwork and continuous improvement. Transactional leadership has not been found to be of significance in quality improvement primarily because this type of leadership is associated with rewards and punishment, and hence an exchange. Meanwhile, transformational leadership could impact quality management practices because top management or leaders play the role of motivators who guide subordinates.