Theories of leadership and management style

Some researchers say leaders are born and not made, another school of thought regard leadership as a skill that can be developed and learned. Leaders are persons who direct and motivate others. The achievement of an organisation is to a great extent controlled by its leaders. As stated by Brooks I (2006 p. 152) “Leaders aim to influence and guide others into pursuing particular objectives or visions of the future and to stimulate them into wanting to follow”.

Howard Gardner (1995 cited in Gill 2006) regarded leaders as those who by word and/or personal example markedly influence the behaviours, thoughts and/or feelings of a significant number of their fellow human beings. A key difficulty is that not many people get it right, those who are capable of getting across the obstacles to leadership and stay alert on doing more than expand strong organisations are effective leaders. “The common characteristic of these leaders is their ability to inspire and stimulate others to achieve worthwhile goals. The people who can accomplish these important deeds practice leadership” (Dubrin et al.

2006, p. 3). The meaning of leadership has been explained in numerous ways. Leadership is about getting things done through other people, by stirring them to be accountable and perform their duties diligently. “Mobilizing people to face adaptive challenges” (Gary 2005, p. 34). The definition of leadership by Ralph Stogdill (1950 cited in Huczynski and Buchanan 2007) reflects the concept as an influencing process aimed at goal achievement. Leadership may be considered as the process of influencing leaders and followers to achieve organisational objectives through change (Lussier and Achua, 2004).

Drucker (2001)’s philosophy is that the foundation of effective leadership is thinking through the organisation’s mission, defining and establishing it clearly and visibly. Maxwell (2005, p. 5), added that ”leadership is strictly influence”. He is of the opinion that there are five levels of leadership, each level stands upon the preceding one and will collapse if the lesser level is abandoned. As the leader progresses in the levels, the deeper and more concrete his leadership will be with a person or group of people. Level 1, position, the influence the leader has comes with a designation.

People follow because they have to. Level 2, permission, is established on relationships. People follow because they desire to. Level 3, production, is interested in results. People follow because of the leader’s achievements in the organisation. Level 4, people development, is specified by reproduction in other words, people follow as a result of what the leader has accomplished for them. Level 5, personhood, emerges from respect. This is the maximum achievable level. People follow as a result of who the leader is and what they exhibit.

Maxwell’s leadership illustration describes a continuous growth, each level building upon the previous. The more advanced the leader goes; the less difficult it is to lead and the better the level of dedication from the followers. Lussier and Achua (2004) agreed that Influence is the essence of leadership. Kirst-Ashman (2008) also added that leadership is an act of exerting influence on other group members to direct their behavior, activities, attitudes or interaction. Usually, managers in organisations think that their rank makes them leaders; leadership is not essentially a function of rank in the organisational hierarchy.

Illustrating this is the case of a Nigerian Bank, Zenith Bank Plc, Oba Akran Branch where most employees would rather discuss their operational concerns with an Assistant Manager rather than discuss it with the Branch Head who is more senior. It was believed that the Assistant Manager develops interpersonal relationships with the staff members; hence earning their respect. On the other hand, the Branch Head is seen as an autocratic leader, focusing strictly on tasks and how to get them done with little or no time for ‘small talk’.

According to Maxwell (2005, p. 1), Ninety nine percent of all leadership occurs not from the top but from the middle of an organisation, you can lead others from any level within the organisation; ”Leadership is a choice you make, not a place you sit”. “Leadership is not about position or title. It’s about relationships, credibility, and what you do. “(Kouzes and Posner, 2002, p. 383). There are many leadership theories that have formed our recent perception of leadership. This essay looks at some of the most common theories and leadership styles.

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