The Wider Literature on Leadership
Leadership refers to the ability of an individual to inspire people, motivate, influence and even guiding them towards achieving a common goal, whether in an organization or an institution. Even though leadership and management have a common goal of working towards achievement of the set goals in an organization, management involves directing and controlling people towards harmonized and coordinated efforts for achievements. Academics distinguish management from leadership, though a good manager is considered to incorporate good leadership. Some distinctive features of Trait, Behavioral Style and Contingency Theories define the respective importance and flaws in their approach to leadership.
Trait theories assume that leaders are known by characters, which implies that people who have leadership qualities, behaviors and traits are able to perform as leaders. In trait theories, most emphasizes on leadership qualities are based on characteristics such as personality and behavior. The theory also believes that leaders are naturally born with leadership traits and personalities. Considering some traits linked to quality leadership like self confidence, courage, intelligence and the extraversion traits, the trait theory points them as outstanding characters which define a leader. This theory is contravened by lack of clarity when considering similar leadership traits which are common among people who are not leaders while others do not even aspire for the leadership position. This challenges the Trait theory on its bases that leaders are known by characters, from inheritance or being born not created.
The Behavioral style theory of leadership states that great leaders are made but not born as contradicted in the Traits theory of leadership. This theory emphasizes that people can learn how to become prominent leaders, with an aspect of full application of the knowledge acquired. Application of the learned leadership values indicates the real basis of this theory where actions of a leader are valued in determining how excellent the leader is. Other values like the mental ability, internal states or even past qualities do not evaluate leadership according to this behavioral theory.
Contingency theories of leadership concentrate on environmental structure, which specifically determines the coordination between the leader’s behavior and the style applicable at that specific situation. Since the trait theory failed to provide specific leaders’ traits from the occurrences of similar traits in people who were not leaders, the contingency approach defines leadership from the environmental context where leadership takes place. Therefore, contingency theory approaches leadership as universal behaviors and traits which fit in any environmental situation. Significantly, the best leadership style is determined by maturity, needs and togetherness of the followers as supported in contingency theories.
General corporate model of strategic leadership dictates the coordination between the external environment where leadership is to be enforced through vision, mission, strategy and their mode of implementation. The corporate model provides direction in which vision is to be transformed into action with a mechanism of achieving organizational goals and targets. In the model, vision refers to the future expectations or guide of an organization, which make employees ambitious in their work performance. Mission thus refers to the organizational core values and reasons of existence, which is implied by daily performances in an organization. In the general corporate model, a strategy combines the mission of company to the motivating vision meant to be achieved in a certain period.
Cooperative strategic leadership differs from that of the corporate model since it involves serious resource allocation with respect to the environment to ensure organizational goals are achieved. Unlike corporate model, cooperative strategic leadership changes to maintain the main the focus of achieving the best in an organization. Therefore, strategic actions are more effective when linked to the organization’s vision and therefore, strategic leaders create competent strategies which create value to their target customers.
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