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The Nature of Leadership

15 Feb 2017Psychology Essays

1. In your opinion, which theories are more useful—leader-centered theories or follower-centered theories? What does Yukl believe?

A basic distinction between leadership styles is the source of the decision about who will be the leader. In any of the two – leader-centered or follower-centered theories, the source of decision can be traced to a combination of any of the two. Generally, the answer to the question depends on the nature of the situation and the needs and characteristics of the followers. Some workers prefer to be told what to do and how to do it and would find it frustrating to operate in a participatory democracy where they would be required to make frequent decisions affecting their lives. Others could not tolerate an authoritarian organization (or society) where they would have no say in the important decisions that affect them.

Evidence in researches is usually one's basis in determining which direction a leader or organization should take in handling people or its organization. Studies show that participatory democracy is conducive to higher job satisfaction among a majority of employees. An analysis of studies comparing the two styles of leadership indicated that 60 percent found the democratic approach to be superior to the authoritarian approach, whereas 30 percent found no difference between the two. Only nine percent showed higher satisfaction with the authoritarian approach: there are, as we noted, some people who are happier when they are told what to do and who do not want to have any say about the nature of their work.

Essentially, leadership research yields only results and findings toward the leader-centered types rather than the follower-centered types. Hence, logic dictates that if I were to choose between the two - I think it would be best to go for the leader=centered theories since it has been proven that those at the helm make crucial decisions that impact the each person and the overall organization.

Gary Yukl comprehensively tackled most leadership and management concepts. I believe his was an integration of various important highlights pertaining to the leadership theories he evaluated (Yukl, 1989).

2. From your own experience, what leadership theory do you find most applicable?

Among the leadership theories that I believe I find most applicable is a combination of the path-goal theory and the charismatic type, although critiques are hurled in both directions and reasonably so. Many of the contemporary leadership theories have emerged in the last fifty years which were developed from corresponding emerging complex organizations. The path-goal theory is quite effective only when the leaders are able to take notice or recognize their followers' specific goals and they are able to find ways to help their followers arrive to these specific goals. The self-based theory of charismatic leadership is also attractive to a certain extent as the leaders in this type engage their followers' self-concepts. It is done by appealing to the values that are of immense significance to the followers. In this strategy of leadership, leaders are indeed given heavy responsibilities over the lives of their followers (Naidoo, 2005).

3. How are management and leadership theories related? How are they different?

Management and-- -leadership theories are intricately related to a degree. My understanding is that leaders should be able to manage in most ways while most managers are not necessarily leaders or do not automatically possess leadership traits or abilities. Hence management theories focus on acquiring leadership qualities while leadership theories focus on the technical aspects if and when leaders who hold the reins lack technical know-how. They are distinct from each other precisely because there are those elevated to managerial positions who lack people skills or traits that make them handle people better or effectively (Clement, 1981).

4. Are management and leadership tasks so different they have to reside in different people? Where do your views fit with this constant debate?

Management and leadership tasks are not that different that they can reside in one person. When a person develops managerial skills, he or she may not necessarily possess leadership abilities even with training. There are some who may develop abilities or acquire these characteristics important to governance for instance, and will still have to learn alongside the managerial competence (Clement, 1981).

5. In your opinion, what are the most important management traits?

These include the following (not necessarily in this order):

  • He/she must have the ability to inspire team members
  • He /she must know what the priorities are in his/her department
  • Has the ability to handle multiple tasks at the same time and constantly reprioritizes these tasks
  • Possesses a sense of humor
  • Can take all kinds of opinions and reactions hurled at him/her
  • Up-to-date technical skills
  • Has the ability to say 'no' mostly without making people angry
  • And more importantly, has a good sense of values of family, faith and country.

6. In your opinion, what are the most important leadership traits?-

Basically, the same as the management traits that must be possessed, since those in management are expected to influence people and are expected to lead. But as mentioned, these are traits, more naturally present in leaders per se, but are expected to be developed among those in the management levels.

  • He/she must have the ability to inspire team members
  • He /she must know what the priorities are in his/her department
  • Has the ability to handle multiple tasks at the same time and constantly reprioritizes these tasks
  • Possesses a sense of humor
  • Can take all kinds of opinions and reactions hurled at him/her
  • Up-to-date technical skills
  • Has the ability to say 'no' mostly without making people angry-
  • And more importantly, has a good sense of values of family, faith and country.

- Reference:

  • Clement, R.W. 1981. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Management training. Human Resources Management, Volume 20, pp.8-13.
  • Naidoo, Loren J. 2005. EFFECTS OF LEADERS ON FOLLOWER GOAL STRIVING PROCESSES: COGNITIVE AND EMOTIONAL SENSEMAKING MECHANISMS. Accessed October 31, 2007
  • Yukl, Gary. 1989. Managerial Leadership: A Review of theory and Research. Journal of Management, Vol. 15, No. 2, 251-289 (1989)DOI: 10.1177/014920638901500207© 1989 Southern Management Association

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