Effective Leadership - Theories and Approaches

Theories/Approaches Contribution in Understanding of Effective Leadership


 aches Contribution IN of IN of leadership



Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction. 2

2.0 Leadership and its effectiveness. 2

3.0 Theories/Approaches. 3

3.1 Leader Behaviour Approach/Theory. 3

3.2 Contingency Approach/Theory. 6

4.0 Conclusion. 10




1.0 Introduction

There are the variety of theories that explain the practices of leadership. The essay will provide the overview of two critical leadership theories. It is significant to note that this submission tries to offer the overview of leadership theories (Scouller, 2011). Most of the theories had an opinion that leadership is based on three perspectives: leadership as the combination of personality characteristics or traits; leadership as the relationship or process, or leadership as the behaviour, as it’s commonly referred as leadership skills. All virtually all the dominant theories have the notion that to a certain extent, leadership is seen as a process, which creates influence on a group of people towards realizing their goals (Scouller, 2011). It is perceived that leadership is the dynamic as well as complex process, and whatever is written these days oversimplify this process. The thesis statement of the essay is to include two theories/approaches that are helpful in understanding the effectiveness of leadership. In this context, leadership behaviour approach and contingency theory are selected towards bringing efficiency in the leadership process.  

2.0 Leadership and its effectiveness

Leadership can be explained as the process through which individuals try to create influence on others for the purpose of attaining the group and organizational goals. There are three perspectives related to the definition of leadership that need to be emphasized. First, leadership is considered as social influence process. It is evident that leadership cannot exist without any leader or followers. Secondly, leadership provokes voluntary action on followers. Compliance voluntary nature often separates the leadership from other kinds of influence that are based on formal authority (Adeniyi, 2007). Finally, leadership outcome in the behaviour of followers is purposeful as well as goal-directed in specifically related settings. Not all, but many studies relate to leadership, which emphasize the leadership nature at the workplace.

Leadership theories often exhibit the evolution of thoughts and tries to develop the thinking process from one leadership dimension towards the other. Every leadership theory highlights certain aspects of it by ignoring others; these are considered as the characteristic of theories

(Adeniyi, 2007)

. The significant side of the theory is related to developing thoughts. In different theories, various aspects of leadership are discussed by experts. Working on leadership theories can support in hiring the right and talented person and make the best-expected team, which enables one to get the work done with fewer delays and errors. Project managers take advantage of leadership theory for enhancing their performance as a lead

(Hutchin, 2012)

. Theories offer the needed personal characteristic that relates to leadership, and otherwise, candidates might be discounted if they fail in possessing the particular traits. Present theories emphasize over what leaders do for getting their job done in right way. Selecting the leadership theories is all up to the project managers/leaders that could make sense for the company

(Hutchin, 2012)

. Through acquiring the working knowledge of modern leadership theories, one can select to apply the ideas that are appropriate for the particular situation

 (Graeff, 1993)


3.0 Theories/Approaches

3.1 Leader Behaviour Approach/Theory

As per behaviour theory leaders are considered as born, rather they are made. This theory tries to completely go against the traits theory (House, 1980). Trait theory mentions that the qualities of leadership comes at the time of birth, where else the classical leadership style just like the behavioural theory mentions that comes from the practice and not at the time of birth (House, 1997). The leadership style also mentions that any person can easily learn the qualities that is needed for the leader and can easily and successfully lead when there is any requirement (Jerald, 2000). Qualities of leadership can be easily adopted through viewing others. Perhaps the leaders can also easily adopt the right behaviour with the help of relevant training (George, 1993).

As per behavioural theory, the leader’s action for achieving the gaol is significant. It studies various types of behaviour, which might impact the subordinate’s performance of job and their satisfaction towards job (Fiedler, 1967).

Behavioural theory includes the styles and skills, which might be different from the traits as behaviour cannot be developed. In the starting of 1900s, behaviour was studied for the purpose of analysing how leaders can easily make effective decisions about the organizational problems. As per (House, 1980), leadership behaviour is highly composed of relational oriented behaviours, task-oriented behaviours, as well as change oriented behaviours. Task oriented behaviour includes the directives, contingent rewards and also help in initiating the structure. Relational oriented behaviour includes consideration, development, empowerment as well as help in enabling others (Jerald, 2000). Change oriented behaviour is considered as transformational and try to exhibit the charisma. Overall, behaviour theory includes a map for conducting the effective organizational behaviour. Behaviour theory includes examining the five exemplary leadership practices (Fiedler, 1967).

Previous research conducted on this theory was undertaken in the year 1950 by the Ohio state university researchers for the purpose of exploring two different types of leadership behaviour such as initiating and considering structure (George, 1993). Leaders who try to exhibit the considerate style of leadership often tend to emphasize over formulating the better relationship along with two way communication with the workplace subordinates, which exhibit towards initiating the structural behaviour, which emphasize over communication, planning and allocating task and then expect that is completed in assigned deadline and within specified standards (Graeff, 1993). Therefore, these task are focused over relations. Previous research that is carried out on two different types of behaviours depicts that considerate supervisors are quite more effective in context of minimizing the level of staff fewer grievances and voluntary turnover (Graeff, 1993). The opposite impact is observed for workplace supervisors that make use of initiating the behavioural structure, such as high voluntary turnover rates as well as high grievances volume. However, it is recommended that both kinds of behaviour, in which leaders nurture the staff and offer relevant structure for undertaking the task are considered as crucial for effective leadership (House, 1980).

Parallel research that was carried out by the Michigan University researchers explore various types of leadership behaviour such as orientation of employees that also emphasize over attentive and considerate the needs of staff and even overlap the considerate styles of leadership, which is discussed previously (House, 1997). It also stress over production orientation behaviour of leadership that share common with initiating structure related with leadership style, as the same focuses over behaviour to get the work done.

Various studies that were conducted o far attempts towards exploring the right combination of relationship and task oriented behaviour, which could be effective across various situations and therefore, help in generating universal leadership theory (Hutchin, 2012). However, the findings from different studies are consistent and inconclusive that relates with task as well as relationship oriented behaviour and results like employees satisfaction and employees performance, which is not set up (Hutchin, 2012).

Behavioural approaches holds various limitations. Firstly, the empirical facts related with effectiveness often tend towards inconclusive, as the studies failed in exploring the consistent relation existing among the task and work results and relationship behaviour like performance. Secondly, behavioural approaches recommends that most of the effective leaders are task as well as relationship oriented, which link with the high concern of meeting deadlines and production along with fulfilling the requirement of staff and their growth within the company (Jerald, 2000). However, it is also argued that high level at behaviour might not be requires relying over the task direction, as it needs to be attentive and supportive towards staff member. However, for task, which are simple or related with routine task leadership is not required (Podsakoff, 1993).

3.2 Contingency Approach/Theory

Contingency or situational leadership theories propose that work groups and organizational groups impact the extent to which leader behaviour will get effected. Contingency theories had gained prominence in the year 1960s and 70s (Jerald, 2000). There are four contingency theories which are, path-goal theory, Fiedler contingency theory, situational leadership theory, and Vroom-Yetton-Jago decision making leadership models. Fiedler contingency theory is responsible for specifying how the situational factors could communicate with leader’s behaviour or traits for the purpose of influencing the effectiveness of leadership. Theories recommends that situation favourability tries to determine the task and person-oriented leader behaviour effectiveness (House, 1980). Favourability is highly determined through the trust and respect that followers hold for their leaders; extent to which responsibilities of subordinates could be structured and performance could be measured, and leaders control over the rewards given to subordinates (Scouller, 2011). The situation is highly favourable when the followers give trust and respect to their leaders; task is structured, and leaders hold control over the punishments and rewards.

Fiedler research indicates that task oriented leaders are highly effective when the situation is highly unfavourable and favourable, but at the same time person oriented leaders are effective in both unfavourable and moderate favourable situation (Fiedler, 1967). The theory didn’t mentioned that leaders could adapt leadership styles in various situation, but at the same time leaders with various leadership style can be more impactful when they are placed in those situations that match with the preferred style.

The theory of Fiedler’s contingency is highly criticised on both the methodological and conceptual grounds. However, empirical research has helped various propositions of the theory, and it exist as an important contribution in understanding or analysing the effectiveness of leadership (George, 1993).

The theory of path-goal proposes the characteristics of subordinates and work environment characteristics that determines which leader’s behaviour will be more effective. The main characteristics of subordinates explore through the theory is work experience, locus of control, requirement of affiliation, and ability (George, 1993). Significant characteristics of an environment named after the theory are considered as nature of the task, nature of work groups or system of formal authority. The theory also cover up four types of leadership behaviour such as participative leadership, directive leadership, supportive leadership along with achievement-oriented leadership (Adeniyi, 2007). As per the theory, behaviour of leaders need to minimize the goal attainment of subordinates and try to strengthen the expectancies of subordinates, whose improved performance will get them reward. The theory also offer coaching in order to make the path payoffs easily to subordinates. The theory of path goal recommends that the behaviour of leader might attain the task, which depends on environment and subordinate contingency factors (House, 1980).

The Vroom decision making model mainly stress over the extent subordinates participate in various situations. It also emphasize over the leaders decision making style. Vroom contingency theory is quite easy to use at workplace due to the fact that Vroom can develop different user-friendly models of decision making that could be used in the contingency software programs (House, 1997). The theory of Vroom contingency is also supportive in leadership decisions for the purpose to map the leadership styles, which are based on the feedback attained from contingency situation.

As per theory, the relevant styles are determined through the answers that are connected with contingency factors as problem structure, and help in exploring whether subordinates had enough data for taking quality decisions and to find the importance of subordinate commitment in taking decision (Adeniyi, 2007). The situational leadership theory recommends that the main contingency factors impacting the leaders choice of selecting any particular style is the subordinates task related maturity. Maturity of subordinates is explained in context of subordinate’s ability to accept the responsibility for their own task related behaviour (Hutchin, 2012). The theory categorizes the behaviour of leaders in two different classes of relationship oriented and task oriented behaviours. The key proposition related with situational leadership is that task and relationship oriented leadership effectiveness relies on the subordinates maturity (House, 1980).

Through applying the contingency approach, the company make sure that the project can access the people who are tailored completing the project as per the wish of client. Other benefits related with contingency theory is that it could be easily applied in both small and large scale organizations, whether they are able to offer the integrated solutions regardless of project scope (Adeniyi, 2007). The contingency theory downside is that it easily adapts and hire the strategic thinking, when it is required and precludes the ability towards reducing the potential risk through doing proper planning (Adeniyi, 2007).

The contingency approach is effective when the organization holds complete control on both the role and behaviour of employees. Through exerting the control, it can be ensured by company that the staff will remain focused on the previous roles, until and unless it’s required to adapt as per the circumstances (Fiedler, 1967). Most of the issues related with control comes under the project manager, who holds the responsibility of particular roles of employees and also make sure that project is completed successfully. Project managers are needed to understand and analyse the issues ongoing at workplace and solve them through matching the issues with staff who has appropriate skills (Podsakoff, 1993).

The contingency approach also enables the management to change role of employees in order to fulfil the requirements of projects. Sometimes highly tailored nature of the projects also enhances the chances of company having the correct people at correct place for completing the job that meet satisfaction of customers (Scouller, 2011). The contingency approach is also considered as the relative business management model. This implies personnel don’t plan ahead to reduce the project risks and develop the strategies that could solve the issues as required. This might result in the sudden lack of skilled person for fulfilling the project challenge (Scouller, 2011).

The contingency approach in business management includes single system that could be implemented on the ongoing challenges at workplace. Managerial personnel task determine particular solutions for the purpose of handling the workplace problems and satisfy the need of clients (Graeff, 1993). This implies assigning staff with the task based on appropriate skills, integrating the efforts for offering the complete realized plan action, and developing the situational strategies for meeting the deadline. Managers make use of contingency approach for dealing with issues when such type of situation occur in business (Hutchin, 2012).

The job of assigning the particular work role to the staff is an important element in job description of managers within contingency approach model. This enhances the pressure on the mangers for making sure about success of project (House, 1980). As personnel assignments are responsible for it. If the project gets fail, ownership can look towards decision of manager in assigning the job task as the key reason behind completion of slow projects, outright of project failure, and missed deadlines. It is noted that failure of projects could quickly place the position of managers in the company within jeopardy (Jerald, 2000).

Management of contingency approach is used widely for creating process of effective planning that adapts with huge range of external factors. While one cannot reduce the environment uncertainty; therefore, planning for contingency situations is helpful for both individuals and organizations (Jerald, 2000). It is again important that to educate the staff about the core principles related with contingency theory before applying this theory at workplace. While many tools related with using the contingency model looks straightforward, one can have better outcomes for implementing the new way of thinking about both decision making and planning, if everyone is on board and can easily analyse the basics (House, 1997).

4.0 Conclusion

Although behavioural and contingency theories have contributed much in the analysis of leadership, but none of the theories have offered complete satisfaction that could clearly explain the leadership as well as effectiveness of leadership. Since 1970, various other alternative theoretical framework is developed for understanding or studying the leadership, like transformational leadership theory, servant leadership philosophy, leader-member exchange theory, and substitutes of leadership approach.

It can be concluded that organizational leaders often build traits in the staff members like, teamwork, trust, fairness, respect and outcomes, which creates the everlasting effect. They believe that employees need to be remained in their assigned task in order to make their contribution more clear. Various qualities related to different level is discussed in the paper such as win the employees with diversity, hire employees from variant cultures, as it could benefit them in understanding what is accepted by various cultures and although it could be useful in attaining new ideas for enhancing the process. It is depicted that transformational leaders need to invest their time in formulating the trust and trying to convince the followers, so that they could believe in shared vision.  It is expected that organizations should also  place instant outcomes through initiating the leaders, but the same is time consuming process and can offer instant outcomes. Managers can even raise the level of skill through listening others, instead of speaking on their own.

This is the only way that can support the manager in exploring what’s exactly going on within the company. In order to overcome the change, each staff is provided with lectures with an aim to analyse the new production method. This process is undertaken, so that employees could put their efforts for attaining the goal of organizations effectively, efficiency without any waste. For enhancing the performance of company, leaders need to treat the employees equally without being partial while implementing the change. If the managers failed to do so, or employees don’t resist the change, then for the wrong behaviour of staff, managers in the company have to suffer. Therefore, as per situation it is expected that managers should adopt various leadership style.



Adeniyi, A., 2007. Effective Leadership Management: An Integration of Styles, Skills & Character for Today's CEOs. AuthorHouse.

Fiedler, F., 1967. A Theory of Leadership Effectiveness. New York: McGraw-Hill.

George, G., 1993. Leader-Member Agreement: A Vertical Dyad Linkage Approach". Journal of Applied Psychology , pp. 63, 206–212.

Graeff, C., 1993. "The Situational Leadership Theory: A Critical View". Academy of Management Review , Issue 8, pp. 285-291.

House, R., 1980. "A Path-Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness". Administrative Science Quarterly , pp. 16, 321–339.

House, R., 1997. "The Social Scientific Study of Leadership: Quo Vadis?". Journal of Management , pp. 23, 409–473.

Hutchin, T., 2012. The Right Choice: Using Theory of Constraints for Effective Leadership. CRC Press.

Jerald, G. a. B. R. A., 2000. Behavior in Organizations: Understanding and Managing the Human Side of Work. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Podsakoff, P. M., 1993. "Do Substitutes for Leadership Really Substitute for Leadership? An Empirical Examination of Kerr and Jermier's Situational Leadership Model". Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes , pp. 54, 1–44.

Scouller, J., 2011. The Three Levels of Leadership: How to Develop Your Leadership Presence, Knowhow and Skill.Management Books.




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