Leadership Theories

The concept of leadership has been defined in numerous contexts, in each of which the circumstances tend to determine the implications of leadership practice. It means that leadership is primarily described by the situation within which it is practiced. In some situations, the underlying concept is about finding solutions to the day-to-day problems faced by the organization. In others, leadership is about inspiring and motivating the people being led with regards to their specified roles and objectives within the firm or entity. From a more general perspective, it is a combination of activities and attitudes that help steer an organization in the right direction. It generally implies that a leader should be delineated by the circumstances under which he or she is operating. Leading a business, for example, requires a combination of technical and people skills, since, besides managing people, there is a need to meet the customer demand and quality standards. Without such considerations, the company at hand may have the best workforce but fail to generate sufficient revenues owing to poor quality or inadequacy in terms of meeting the existing market demand. According to the leadership theories proposed and discussed by Peter G Northouse in the seventh edition of Leadership: Theory and Practice, there are four particular theories that I find to be truly effective. They are the adaptive leadership, authentic leadership, transformational leadership and servant leadership. I, however, am more inclined to regard directive leadership as unappealing, which will be discussed later in the paper.


The Theories/Approaches Resonates with Me the Most

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leadership is based on the four definitive dimensions, including navigating, winning, self correcting and empathizing. According to Northouse (2015), becoming an adaptive leader is not just about being at the helm of an organization and practicing rigid philosophies on what a leader should or should not be doing. The whole concept of adaptive leadership is formulated based on the need for the leader to be fully aware of the environment within which he/she is working, and, thus, on growing at the same pace of relevance and efficiency in ones capacity as a leader. Navigating the business sphere is a concept meant to ensure that a leader understands the various environmental turbulences the and can come up with effective solutions that will enable the company in question to sail through them successfully. The business climate is constantly changing, so truly adaptive leaders should be able to notice these changes and adapt accordingly if they are to exercise the required leadership . Self-correction, in this case, is also a major requisite, as it enables a leader notice any need for adjustments in the approach and, subsequently, react to the situation and adjust it immediately and effectively. Empathizing makes it easier for a leader to understand how difficult the changes come for the people under his/her supervision, allowing for the introduction of a more humane and cordial treatment within the organization. Winning, in such a situation, is an attitude meant to assist leaders in focusing their positive energy on the task at hand with the aim of winning or attaining the set goals and objectives of the entity under consideration (Northouse, 2015). The concept of winning, is not, however, limited to a company only. An adaptive leader pushes for sustainability, and, in order to to achieve this, he or she has to keep in mind the external stakeholders as well. It implies a specified orientation towards the win-win solutions where all those involved get a good deal in the end.

Such particular style of leadership appeals to me, because it is by far the most effective one in the business world. Business organizations have to face new challenges on a regular basis, and, in most cases, the good old tricks will not work. To succeed, one ought to develop a consistent need to restructure ones mindset based on the known parameters of the problem at hand. When a business leader is stuck with a single leadership style, he/she, due to the fact that the problems faced cannot be tackled with an existing framework, tends to fail. The need to come up with the new strategies, which are outlined by the underlying issues, turns the successful business leadership into a challenging endeavor that requires numerous considerations dictated by relevance of the existing problems.

Authentic Leadership

There is a number of theories related to the relationship between authentic leadership and ethics or moral values. Authentic leadership is, essentially, a model that requires leaders to be true to their systems of value. The basic dimensions that define this type of leadership are self-awareness, openness, balanced processing and an internal moral construct used to view everything within the leaders scope. Self-awareness is about understanding ones values, strengths and weaknesses within the leadership position. This enables a leader to know what he or she is capable in various situations. Openness helps develop effective relationships built on trust and effective communication, thus making it easy for a leader to interact with the subordinates. A balanced processing allows coming up with the best solution when faced with opposing ideologies from the subordinates. Rationality, within such a context, is achieved through effective processing of the available information. An internal moral compass is what authorizes a leader to be considered as authentic, and builds an ethical foundation that dictates the his/her future actions and decisions within the underlying position of power.

I find this leadership style to be interesting and significant, because, first of all, a leader needs to have a foundation in terms of moral and ethical values. Without it, the exercised leadership will lack morality or ethics, making it inadequate in most situations. Secondly, an authentic leader needs to be open and honest. The most common challenge for leaders across the world is ensuring effective communication with their assistants. Undoubtedly, the choice of authentic leadership style could help many of them with their communication restraints kinds of circumstances.

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Transformational Leadership

A few years ago, transformational leadership was lauded as the most effective leadership style within an organizational context. Before transformational leadership theories came around, the transactional leadership style was causing a high turnover rate and very low productivity of organizations. Transformational leadership changed this by encouraging the leaders to interact with, empower and inspire the people that they are administrating and guiding (Northouse, 2015). Transformational leaders work together with their subordinates rather than just giving them orders and waiting for the results. They foster pleasurable working relationships aimed at ensuring that the underlings are comfortable and happy in their respective positions. Such circumstance allow the employees focus on their work, subsequently improving the overall productivity. The fact that transformational leaders inspire and motivate their employees, then, is the rationale behind the lower turnover rates.

While there are other effective leadership frameworks such as authentic and adaptive ones, as discussed above, transformational leadership remains one of the most relevant theories when it comes to dealing with employees. It means that such an approach is mandatory within organizational contexts, where a leader has to constantly interact with employees in one way or another. Transformational leaders are very close to their subordinates; they have a relatively high emotional intelligence. The only difference lies in the fact that they simply know how to get things done by inspiring and motivating their subordinate within the operational environment . It is the kind of leadership that sets an organization apart, especially when it comes to customer relations being a critical success factor.

Servant Leadership

Servant leadership is considered as more of a philosophical than a leadership theory. It assumes a set of practices that are aimed at improving the experiences of individuals, the society and, eventually, the whole world. Such intentions imply that a servant leader is not constrained to small goals and objectives, but rather works tirelessly for assembling a bigger picture, which in most cases is the betterment of the world. A servant leader also removes the concept of selfishness or personal interests and strives to make others comfortable and happy in the first place. It suggests treating others as one would like to be treated, without waiting to receive the good attitude first. Most other leaders may be motivated by hefty pay packages, fame or respect, while servant leaders thrive on success. They enjoy their contribution towards a better individual, a better society and, ultimately, a better world. The best example of servant leadership can be seen in the late Nelson Mandela, who was selfless in terms of his leadership to the very end. He spent decades in prison fighting for the independence and democracy of the South African nation, and later stepped down to allow for democratic elections and a new president in line with the nations constitution. Rather than staying to enjoy the products of his sacrifices, he let go of his position as a countrys president to show an example to his people and promote the spirit of democracy.

It is probably the rarest kind of leadership in practice. In theory, this philosophy depicts an ideal situation, considering that servant leaders are likely to achieve the best results within any context. They lead by example, they are not afraid of making sacrifices for the greater good and they never lose focus of their goals, regardless of the challenges that they have to face. Such a framework is effective, challenging and inspiring all at the same time. It is exactly the kind of leadership I would like to practice someday.

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A Theory that Does Not Appeal to Me

Directive Leadership

The leadership style in question involves setting goals and objectives, in line with the strict rules that have to be followed. Despite being considered as a rather modern leadership theory, directive leadership fits well in the category of transactional framework, where a leader is practically obsessed with results and tasks and, hence, pays no specific attention to the people within the organization. Directive leaders give orders and expect them to be followed. They barely have much to say to their subordinates, except for giving strict instructions that must be adhered to the letter. I find directive leadership ineffective, because it limits the subordinates in terms of their participation and contribution within the business processes of an organization, as well as their growth, considering that the tasks at hand are not crafted to align the needs of these individuals. The leaders who practice this sort of framework often keep a distance from their subordinates and, therefore, do not have a solid relationship with the people that they work with. As a result, the employees are treated like machines - taking commands and delivering results. They are not inspired, motivated or even challenged in any significant or effective way.


Leaders may be defined by their circumstances, but the leadership theories that they subscribe to often determine their outcomes. There are many different leadership approaches which are relatively effective within an organizational context, and a good leader should be able to practice a combination of these. Leaders have to be able to deliver impressive performances of their respective organizations, but it is prudent that they do not focus too much on tasks and forget to pay attention to the people within their operating environment. It is mostly so because the effective leadership is not just about accomplishing tasks successfully. It also entails nurturing the personnel inside the organization, keeping the people happy and ensuring that they attain their personal and career goals as well. Leadership is, thus, not just about taking charge of the organization, but also about empowering, helping and nurturing the subordinates along the way.

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