Leadership has been a topic of interest over time since the dawn f man. Leadership approaches, for instance, has undergone evolution with a prominent shift from the autocratic and a more directive type of leadership in the 19th and 20th century to a more democratic style of the current generation. The evolution of leadership can be linked to a combination of various issues which involve a shift in peoples perception as well as advancement of technology in the contemporary society. There has been a need for leaders across the globe including human resource managers in planning and adopting the new evolution trends related to technological advancement and approaches to achieve the best outcomes for the organizations (Barman, 2009). From 1990 to present time, there has been a transformation in leadership from an authoritarian type of leadership that believed in top-down management approach, strict rules and regulations and exact orders to more individualized thinking leaders and individual ownership over various tasks in an organization. As a result of this, leadership has camouflaged to a participative leadership which is now the most common leadership approach in the contemporary society. During this period, there have been numerous theories formulated by scholars that highlight on the evolution of leadership styles.
Great Man and Trait Theory
Leadership studies during the 20th century highlighted on the great man and the trait theories. This theory proposes that some people were born to lead and when crises emerged, the men stepped up to effectively manage and lead the organizations to greater heights (Acemoglu & Jackson, 2014). The trait theory suggests that it is only men with the inborn attributes that can make successful leaders in all organizations and the search for the best combination will lead to an effective organization. Through a meta-analysis of various studies conducted in relation to effective organization leadership, there are specific traits that show good leaders. These traits include the individual drive for responsibility and task completion, self-confidence, sense of personal identity, willingness to tolerate various situations in the organization among other attributes that can lead to organization success.
Lewin's Leadership Styles
Lewin collaborated with colleagues Lippett and White in 1939 to write a publication on the leadership approaches used in an organization setting. This leadership approaches included autocratic, democratic and Laissez-faire style of leadership. According to them, authoritarian leaders are those who made decisions in the organization without making intensive consultation with the stakeholders or the low-level employees (Billig, 2015). The democratic style of leadership involves all members of the organization in the decision-making process. Laissez-faire on the other end focused on leaders who played a minimum role in the organization decision-making process.
Max Weber later came up with the charismatic authority and describes this form of leadership as special personality attributes that provides leaders with unique powers that result in a person being perceived as a leader. These types of leaders have a strong urge to influence others in the organization and deliver results, are self-confident with their decisions and also have a strong sense of moral values. They motivate change initiatives in the global environment regardless of the issues attributed to technological advancement.
This mode was proposed by Dr. Hersey and Dr. Blanchard who chose decided on this style based on the maturity or the developmental degree of the followers. It developed four quadrant sections which were based on equal amounts of directive and supportive approach to give the workforce the urge to fulfill their assigned tasks in the organization (Blanchard, Zigarmi & Zigarmi, 2013). These sections were labeled according to the respective leadership styles which were related to each other:
Directing: This targeted the least mature employees in the organization and targeted used directive words only to motivate them.
Coaching: According to this, the leaders-supervisors applied both the supportive and directive behavior during their interaction with the employees.
Supporting: the leaders under this aspect focused majorly on the supportive attribute to improve the employee's self-confidence and morale at work.
Delegating: this approach is whereby the leader supervisor needed not to provide neither supportive not directive behavior since the employees were mature, confident and competent.
This was widely applied between the years 1980 to 2011 and involves a process whereby individuals engage amongst themselves to create a link that raises motivation levels. This style also enhances the morality in both the top leadership and the followers hence leading to a positive change process (Northouse, 2010). The leadership style aims at motivating the workforce to do more through enhancing their level of consciousness on the importance of organization values, getting them to understand their individual self-interest for the sake of the organization and moving them to have high aspirations. Later in 1985, the transformational leadership was integrated into four concepts which include idealized influence, inspiration motivation, intellectual stimulation and the leader's individualized consideration. This method of leadership helped transformed various organizations during the 1980s and can be seen up to now.
This is one of the most recent forms of leadership on the global environment. This style of leadership draws upon and enhances both the positive and psychological capacities and promotes an ethical climate in the organization hence creating great self-awareness, a balanced information processing and transparency in the organization management (Leroy et al., 2015). Authentic leadership can be divided into self-awareness, balanced processing, management moral perspective, and transparency.
In a nutshell, leadership has undergone a significant transformation over the years. Different theories have been formulated by scholars across the globe to describe the various approaches to effective leadership that can help transform organizations. Leadership transformation has been seen across the world as organizations seek to access global capital markets. This is expected to continue as they move towards professional managers who are supposed to utilize leadership styles similar to those now applied to the leading companies regarding financial success and domination of the business environment. The participative approach of leadership style which focuses on the decision-making process and not the leader independently need to be used across all organizations to create a motivated and satisfied workforce. The current work environment has become more flexible, and the leaders now feel at ease in relation to drawing an understanding of the experienced followers. The participatory leadership focuses on a more collaborative approach, and indeed if you make an inquiry, leaders will point their close collaborator and mentors as being part of their leadership hence the need to stress on it more.
There is a need to invest more in leadership development to adapt to the emerging trends.
Organization leaders need to motivate employees with potential to grow as leaders continually.
Take into consideration changes in leadership skills that the organization might use for future growth.
Help establish an organization culture that fosters creativity, innovation, and collaboration.
Acemoglu, D., & Jackson, M. O. (2014). History, expectations, and leadership in the evolution of social norms. The Review of Economic Studies, rdu039.
Barman, K. (2009). Leadership Management: Achieving breakthroughs. New Delhi: Global India Pub.
Billig, M. (2015). Kurt Lewin's Leadership Studies and His Legacy to Social Psychology: Is There Nothing as Practical as a Good Theory?. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 45(4), 440-460.
Blanchard, K. H., Zigarmi, D., & Zigarmi, P. (2013). Leadership and the one minute manager: Increasing effectiveness through situational leadership II.
Leroy, H., Anseel, F., Gardner, W. L., & Sels, L. (2015). Authentic leadership, authentic followership, basic need satisfaction, and work role performance: A cross-level study. Journal of Management, 41(6), 1677-1697.
Northouse, P. G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
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