Lesson 5, Topic 4
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Leadership means the ability to lead or to influence the behaviour of other individuals/groups towards a common desired action or objective and should possess more knowledge than his followers.
It is a very unexplainable concept till date as everyday new features are added to its concept.

Let’s explore the theories associated with Leadership in order to understand it better.


1) GREATMEN THEORY: It states that leaders are born not made and they can be easily identified with their extraordinary powers and nature and environment bow down to them according them the relevant recognition as befitting a leader. The limitations of this theory is that it lacks practicality and explains only mythological characters.

2) TRAIT THEORY: It states the traits of leaders and how to identify them. Those traits are fairness,intelligence,general knowledge,understanding,emotional balance,communicative ability and technical competence.Its limitations are that mere possession of traits does not guarantee successful use of it for leadership purposes and it does not identify universal traits based on some studies.

3) BEHAVIOURAL THEORY: It stresses that strong leadership is the result of effective role and behaviour of a leader. The behavioural theories of leadership are – Ohio State Studies,Michigan studies and Managerial Grid.
a) Ohio State Studies: – Carried out by Lippit and White under Kurt Levin who set out to analyse the most successful manager style of they following types – Autocratic leaders (total obedience demanding) leader, Democratic leader who involves his employees,Laisez faire leader(who lets employees do as it suits them). Out of these they found that the Democratic leaders were the most successful and the least successful were the Laissez faire leaders. They identified two variables linked to leadership style in organisations –
i) Initiating structure – Leader’s behaviour in clearly outlining the relationship between himself and members of the work group and in endeavouring to establish well defined patterns of organisation , channels of communication,and methods of procedure.
ii) Consideration – Ability of a leader to establish rapport , mutual respect,and two way communication with employees.
They found that both the above variables were separate and a leader can have a mix of both

Criticism of the Ohio State Studies:
1)Researches ignored the impact of environmental variables on specific leadership behaviours.
2)Most people/managers will find it difficult to change their style for each situation they encounter.

b) Michigan Leadership studies: Researchers identified 2 concepts of leadership: 1) Employee orientation where a leader takes interest in everyone and each employee is valuable to him and 2) Production oriented who are task masters and view employees as tools to achieve organisational objectives.
The study favoured employee central leaders as it co related with higher group productivity and satisfaction.
Criticism it drew was that it also did not take into account environmental variables.

c) Managerial Grid: Blake and Mouton developed this conceptual framework for studying leadership and identified and used 2 variables – concern for people and concern for production. It describes five managerial styles : 1) Country club management- Thoughtful attention to people to lead to a satisfying and relaxed atmosphere. 2) Task management: Keeping human elements interference to a minimum by standardizing conditions of work. 3) Middle of the road or dampened pendulum- balancing work extractment with satisfactory moral of employees in place. 4) Team management: Work is accomplished through committed people and there is an Independence that is based on relationships of trust and respect.5) Impoverished management- Exertion of minimum effort to get required work done is appropriate to sustain organisational membership. According to them leadership is most effective when people and task management are both balanced.
The criticism they attracted was that they have little substantive evidence to prove their claims in all situations and the extreme positions explained by them are rarely found in organisations like impoverished management on one end and country club management on the other end.

These theories depend on the diagnosis of a situation,the group and the leader. These are also called Situational theories. The three major contingency theories are:
1) Fiedler’s Contingency Theory
2) House Path’s Goal Theory
3) Hershey and Blanchard’s Situational Theory

 1) Fiedler’s contingency model: It postulates that the leader’s effectiveness is based on ‘situational contingency’ which is a result of interaction of two factors: leadership style and situational favourableness (later called situational control).
Least preferred co-worker (LPC):
The leadership style of the leader, thus, fixed and measured by what he calls the least preferred co-worker (LPC) scale, an instrument for measuring an individual’s leadership orientation. The LPC scale asks a leader to think of all the people with whom they have ever worked and then describe the person with whom they have worked least well.
Situational favourableness:
According to Fiedler, there is no ideal leader. Both low-LPC (task-oriented) and high-LPC (relationship-oriented) leaders can be effective if their leadership orientation fits the situation. The contingency theory allows for predicting the characteristics of the appropriate situations for effectiveness. Three situational components determine the favourableness of situational control:

  1. Leader-Member Relations, referring to the degree of mutual trust, respect and confidence between the leader and the subordinates.
  2. Task Structure, referring to the extent to which group tasks are clear and structured.
  3. Leader Position Power, referring to the power inherent in the leader’s position itself.

When there is a good leader-member relation, a highly structured task, and high leader position power, the situation is considered a “favorable situation.” Fiedler found that low-LPC leaders are more effective in extremely favourable or unfavourable situations, whereas high-LPC leaders perform best in situations with intermediate favourability.

Leader-situation match and mismatch:
Since personality is relatively stable, the contingency model suggests that improving effectiveness requires changing the situation to fit the leader. This is called “job engineering.” The organization or the leader may increase or decrease task structure and position power, also training and group development may improve leader-member relations. In his 1976 book Improving Leadership Effectiveness: The Leader Match Concept Fiedler (with Martin Chemers and Linda Mahar) offers a self paced leadership training programme designed to help leaders alter the favourableness of the situation, or situational control.

1)Researchers often find that Fiedler’s contingency theory falls short on flexibility.
2)They also noticed that LPC scores can fail to reflect the personality traits they are supposed to reflect.
3)Fiedler’s contingency theory has drawn criticism because it implies that the only alternative for an unalterable mismatch of leader orientation and an unfavorable situation is changing the leader.
4)The model’s validity has also been disputed, despite many supportive tests (Bass 1990).
5)Other criticisms concern the methodology of measuring leadership style through the LPC inventory and the nature of the supporting evidence.Fiedler and his associates have provided decades of research to support and refine the contingency theory.
6)Cognitive Resource Theory (CRT) modifies Fiedler’s basic contingency model by adding traits of the leader. CRT tries to identify the conditions under which leaders and group members will use their intellectual resources, skills and knowledge effectively. While it has been generally assumed that more intelligent and more experienced leaders will perform better than those with less intelligence and experience, this assumption is not supported by Fiedler’s research.
7)The contingency model does not take into account the percentage of “intermediate favourability” situations vs. “extremely favourable or unfavourable situations”, hence, does not give a complete picture of the comparison between low-LPC leaders and high-LPC leaders.

To Fiedler, stress is a key determinant of leader effectiveness, and a distinction is made between stress related to the leader’s superior, and stress related to subordinates or the situation itself. In stressful situations, leaders dwell on the stressful relations with others and cannot focus their intellectual abilities on the job. Thus, intelligence is more effective and used more often in stress-free situations. Fiedler has found that experience impairs performance in low-stress conditions but contributes to performance under high-stress conditions. As with other situational factors, for stressful situations Fiedler recommends altering or engineering the leadership situation to capitalize on the leader’s strengths. Despite all the criticism, Fiedler’s contingency theory is an important theory because it established a brand new perspective for the study of leadership. Many approaches after Fiedler’s theory have adopted the contingency perspective.
Fred Fiedler’s situational contingency theory holds that group effectiveness depends on an appropriate match between a leader’s style (essentially a trait measure) and the demands of the situation. Fiedler considers situational control the extent to which a leader can determine what their group is going to do to be the primary contingency factor in determining the effectiveness of leader behavior.

The theory was developed by Robert House and has its roots in the expectancy theory of motivation. The theory is based on the premise that an employee’s perception of expectancies between his effort and performance is greatly affected by a leader’s behavior. The leaders help group members in attaining rewards by clarifying the paths to goals and removing obstacles to performance. They do so by providing the information, support, and other resources which are required by employees to complete the task.
House’s theory advocates servant leadership. As per servant leadership theory, leadership is not viewed as a position of power. Rather, leaders act as coaches and facilitators to their subordinates. According to House’s path-goal theory, a leader’s effectiveness depends on several employee and environmental contingent factors and certain leadership styles.


The four leadership styles are:
1) Directive: Here the leader provides guidelines, lets subordinates know what is expected of them, sets performance standards for them, and controls behavior when performance standards are not met. He makes judicious use of rewards and disciplinary action. The style is the same as task-oriented one.
2)Supportive: The leader is friendly towards subordinates and displays personal concern for their needs, welfare, and well-being. This style is the same as people-oriented leadership.
3) Participative: The leader believes in group decision-making and shares information with subordinates. He consults his subordinates on important decisions related to work, task goals, and paths to resolve goals.
4) Achievement-oriented: The leader sets challenging goals and encourages employees to reach their peak performance. The leader believes that employees are responsible enough to accomplish challenging goals. This is the same as goal-setting theory.
According to the theory, these leadership styles are not mutually exclusive and leaders are capable of selecting more than one kind of a style suited for a particular situation.

The theory states that each of these styles will be effective in some situations but not in others. It further states that the relationship between a leader’s style and effectiveness is dependent on the following variables:

1) Employee characteristics: These include factors such as employees’ needs, locus of control, experience, perceived ability, satisfaction, willingness to leave the organization, and anxiety. For example, if followers are high inability, a directive style of leadership may be unnecessary; instead a supportive approach may be preferable.

2)Characteristics of work environment: These include factors such as task structure and team dynamics that are outside the control of the employee. For example, for employees performing simple and routine tasks, a supportive style is much effective than a directive one. Similarly, the participative style works much better for non-routine tasks than routine ones.
When team cohesiveness is low, a supportive leadership style must be used whereas in a situation where performance-oriented team norms exist, a directive style or possibly an achievement-oriented style works better. Leaders should apply directive style to counteract team norms that oppose the team’s formal objectives.


The theory has been subjected to empirical testing in several studies and has received considerable research support. This theory consistently reminds the leaders that their main role as a leader is to assist the subordinates in defining their goals and then to assist them in accomplishing those goals in the most efficient and effective manner. This theory gives a guide map to the leaders about how to increase subordinates satisfaction and performance level.

The fundamental underpinning of the situational leadership theory is that there is no single “best” style of leadership. Effective leadership is task-relevant, and the most successful leaders are those that adapt their leadership style to the maturity (“the capacity to set high but attainable goals, willingness and ability to take responsibility for the task, and relevant education and/or experience of an individual or a group for the task”) of the individual or group they are attempting to lead or influence. Effective leadership varies, not only with the person or group that is being influenced, but it also depends on the task, job or function that needs to be accomplished.
Leadership styles
Hersey and Blanchard characterized leadership style in terms of the amount of Task Behavior and Relationship Behavior that the leader provides to their followers. They categorized all leadership styles into four behavior types, which they named S1 to S4:
S1: Telling – is characterized by one-way communication in which the leader defines the roles of the individual or group and provides the what, how, why, when and where to do the task;
S2: Selling – while the leader is still providing the direction, he or she is now using two-way communication and providing the socio-emotional support that will allow the individual or group being influenced to buy into the process;
S3: Participating – this is how shared decision-making about aspects of how the task is accomplished and the leader is providing less task behaviours while maintaining high relationship behavior;
S4: Delegating – the leader is still involved in decisions; however, the process and responsibility has been passed to the individual or group. The leader stays involved to monitor progress.
Of these, no one style is considered optimal for all leaders to use all the time. Effective leaders need to be flexible, and must adapt themselves according to the situation.

The right leadership style will depend on the person or group being led. The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory identified four levels of Maturity M1 through M4:
M1 – They are unable to take on responsibility for the task being done; however, they are willing to work at the task. They are novice but enthusiastic.
M2 – They still lack the specific skills required for the job in hand and are unable and unwilling to do or to take responsibility for this job or task. (According to Ken Blanchard “The honeymoon is over”)
M3 – They are experienced and able to do the task but lack the confidence or the willingness to take on responsibility.
M4 – They are experienced at the task, and comfortable with their own ability to do it well. They are able and willing to not only do the task, but to take responsibility for the task.
Maturity Levels are also task-specific. A person might be generally skilled, confident and motivated in their job, but would still have a maturity level M1 when asked to perform a task requiring skills they don’t possess.
A good leader develops “the competence and commitment of their people so they’re self-motivated rather than dependent on others for direction and guidance.” According to Hersey’s “the situational book,” the leader’s high, realistic expectation causes high performance of followers; the leader’s low expectations lead to low performance of followers. According to Ken Blanchard, “Four combinations of competence and commitment make up what we call ‘development level.'”
D1 – Low competence and high commitment
D2 – Low competence and low commitment
D3 – High competence and low/variable commitment
D4 – High competence and high commitment

In order to make an effective cycle, a leader needs to motivate followers properly.

The aim of this model is to enhance both the quality of decisions of the leader and its acceptability to the subordinates. According to this model, a leader should be both autocratic and participatory varying his style according to various situations and the factors affecting it.

Communication between a leader and subordinate plays a major part in effective leadership. It has been observed that a leader many a times would be more communicative with certain members and rare with others in the group as a result an inner group gets formed who are closer to the leader and this group will show more commitment to the goals of the leaders as compared to the other group and extract most of the benefits and rewards. Therefore,this approach recommends that a leader maintain sufficient communication and exchanges with all levels to avoid such unfeasible situations.

6) SITUATIONAL CONTINUUM THEORY : Tannenbaum and Schmidt suggest here that there are certain ‘forces’ that determine effective leadership and those are:
1) The Leader : His value systems,personality,attitude to delegations and confidence in subordinates and reactions in crisis situations as well as his natural inclination towards an autocratic or democratic style of functioning.
2) The Follower: Their ability to learn skills needed for the organisation,willingness to take on responsibility,personal aspirations and expectations from organisation and capacity to share in decision making implementation.
3) The Situation:Organisational structure whether centralised or decentralised , organisational culture,character of work groups whether co-operative or hostile,working conditions and environment,etc.
The researchers preferred a subordinated leadership style in general but also suggested a mix and match of the above as per the situation and the task of the leader is to integrate all of these and chalk out a plan of action accordingly to achieve organisational goals.


1) Charismatic leadership approach : Theorists of this approach/method support such a happening of leadership where influence operating on sub ordinates is seen as a function of some qualities which sub ordinates have made in their leader or a sub ordinate has assumed in his mind as a charismatic trait and has found that in his leader and so follows him. The leader has somehow manged to promise the employee of a bright future in the organisation and secured job satisfaction through his integrity.
The charismatic leadership theory has the following aspects:
1) Transformational Leadership approach – Such leaders help and guide their subordinate to work for the realisation of their full potential and not just limited to the completion of tasks assigned.
2) Moral Leadership approach: Such leaders exercise their influence through their behaviour or ideals or values where subordinates see him as an idealist and try to follow him/her.
3) Cross Cultural Leadership Approach: Leaders who have the capacity to influence people from different cultures and backgrounds equally and who by the leader’s behaviour of non-partiality,high intelligence,sincerity,honesty,truthfulness get influenced and follow him/her.
4) Team Leadership Approach: An arrangement where the leader by his own performance sets examples and encourages the subordinates to achieve their potential and function in a similar manner that eventually reinforces everybody’s work mutually.