Theories and approaches to leadership

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Theories and approaches to leadership

Drawing on and referring to theories and approaches to leadership introduced in the module, explain what you learned about leadership from your experience at the Leadership Trust.

Researchers and practitioners have identified diverse categories of leadership theories and approaches. In this context formerly the most notable identification is that of Bass (1985) who identifies four approaches of transformational leadership, three approaches of transactional leadership, and a non-leadership approach of laissez-faire leadership (Bass, 1985). Regardless of Bass's (1985) model being acclaimed as making a foremost contribution to leadership, his theory has been criticised for a range of reasons and one notable criticism is that of Yukl(1999) arguing that Bass's model over emphasises the significance of one or two leadership approaches such as transactional omitting the classical approaches.

Freshly, Avery's (2004) leadership approach has become established as researchers and practitioners. Avery (2004) offers 13 pointers to differentiate between its four approaches: classical, transactional, visionary, and organic. Nine indexes included in the review of decisions, the range of staff's power, the power distance between manager and staff, a key player in the organization, the source of employees' obligations to staff's responsibility, the situation of leadership and leadership in the organization, the status of diversity in the organization and control of the situation in the organization. These nine criteria are considered more appropriate for distinguishing between the four leadership approaches that differ from the other four criteria. Each approach is discussed in turn, including the distinguishing characteristics of using the above nine criteria.

The classic leadership, almost certainly the oldest approach, with its origins in antiquity, and is still used in modern organizations (Avery, 2004). This approach reflects the prevailing view in the business literature until 1970, when the human relations movement has led to more focus on the followers and their environment. According to Avery (2004), the classic guide refers to the dominance of pre-eminent person or an elite group of people. This guide can be either coercive or benevolent, or a mixture of both. This is since the elite are a person or group of commands or other members of the maneuvers to work towards goals, which may or may not be clearly articulated. Other members of the society or organization usually follow directive elite leader who openly question their instructions, and execute orders mainly from fear of the consequences, does not, or out of respect for the leader, or both (Avery, 2004). Classic leadership has some limitations. The first takes place when a leader cannot command and control all activities, especially in situations become more complex and beyond the power of one person, or when the additional responsibilities of the followers need to get this to work, for example, in response to changing circumstances, or, when the idea of changing the leadership and followers not to accept the rule, or a follower commitment begins to decrease for other reasons. Another limitation is that this approach often relies on the idea of a great man, implying that only a select few are good enough to take the initiative, and that faith can help followers deskill themselves and the idealization of leaders. Followers then seek and retain enough power to leave the leader of responsibility for organizational results, and make relatively small contribution to this organization.

In accordance with Judge and Piccolo (2004), the three dimensions of transactional leadership are reliant reward, leadership by exception active and leadership by exception-passive. Contingent reward is the extent to which a leader creates a constructive transaction or exchange with followers. The leader clarifies expectations and set a reward for achieving these expectations. By and large, leadership by exception is the degree to which a leader takes corrective action based on the leader-follower transactions (Judge and Piccolo, 2004). The difference between the leadership by exception active and leadership by exception-passive is in the timing of the leader's intervention. Active control of the leaders follower behavior, foresee problems and take corrective actions before the behavior creates serious difficulties. A transformational leader to wait until the behavior creates a problem before making a decision.

In the past three decades, the visionary (transformational, charismatic) leadership has established mounting attention (Bass, 1985). She added a new measurement in organizational studies, namely the visionary aspects of leadership and emotional involvement of employees in the organization. Essential concepts that a visionary leader can create is the thought that he or she has a high level of competency and vision to attain success. Subordinates are anticipated to take action with enthusiasm and commitment to the leadership goals, and may be employed, because they share a vision. Bass (1985) developed a theory of transformational or visionary leadership in accordance with which the leader inspires and activates the subordinates to execute beyond normal expectations. According to Avery (2004), visionary leadership has its drawbacks, even with the current literature's extremely positive outlook on it. Impractical expectations of followers often make for great leaders can generate frustration if rather did not work. Followers can become dependent on the great leaders, believing that the leader has everything under control. In addition, innovation can be slowed if people are reluctant to agree to leader.

Fourth approach, organic leadership, is moderately new to organizational research. Recently introduced Drath (2001) and expanded by Avery (2004), organic leadership can shape the formal distinction between leaders and followers. This approach is based on the response in which team members work together in any roles, powers and authority, they may have, rather than depending on the position of power. Employees become interacting partners in determining what makes sense, how to acclimatize to change, and that such a useful direction. Instead of relying on one leader, organic organizations may have many leaders. Several leaders of the securities as people cope with heterogeneous and dynamic environment, knowledge and issues become too complex for just a few leaders understand (Avery, 2004). Organic guidelines permit people with different experiences on topical issues that arise and will be adopted by the Group as leaders. Apart from these , under the leadership of the organic, can be no formal leaders, and the interactions of all organizational members can act as a form of leadership held together by a common vision, values and culture support. Under this approach, when the organization has no formal governance structure, the role of integrator, you may receive an active link together various parts of the organization. Particular attention is paid to the new leadership, not the people appointed to position of leaders.

To put it precisely, classical leadership concerns to supremacy by a pre-eminent person or an elite group of people and therefore cannot command and control every action, predominantly as situations turn out to be more compound and away from the capacity of one person. Transaction leadership is management by exception is the degree to which the leader takes corrective action on the basis of results of leader-follower transactions, but such leaders wait until the behavior has created problems before taking action. For visionary leadership, the basic notion is that a visionary leader can create an impression that he or she has high competence and a vision to achieve success. Finally organic leadership allows for people with different degrees of expertise on current issues to emerge and be accepted by the group as leaders. Out of all these four approaches of leadership, transactional and visionary leadership appear comparatively more working and appealing, but visionary leadership tops all the four approaches.


Avery, G.C. (2004), Understanding Leadership: Approaches and Cases, Sage Publications, London.

Bass, B.M. (1985) Leadership & Performance Beyond Expectations, Free Press, New York.

Drath, W.H. (2001), The Deep Blue Sea: Rethinking the Source of Leadership, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA,

Judge, T.A. and Piccolo, R.F. (2004), "Transformational & transactional leadership: A meta-analytic test of their relative validity", Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 5, pp.755-768.

Yukl, G. (1999), "An evaluative essay on current conceptions of effective leadership", European Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology, 8, 1, pp.33-48.