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Opposite to the trait approach, contingency theory stresses on the degree to which the leader’s style fits the situation.
Leadership theories are usually developed in their own contexts.
Cultures could affect the leadership styles to some extent.
In terms of the situations, three factors are addressed, including leader-member relations, task structure and position power.
Leader-member relations includes the group atmosphere, loyalty, confidence and attraction; the task structure refers to the extent to which the task is clear and spelled out; position power stands for the authority a leader has to reward or punish his followers (Northouse, 2013).
Contingency theory was developed in the 1960s while the transformational leadership theory was raised in the 1980s.
Their emphases and the ways they work are distinct, their strengths and weakness also differ.
In a historical view, the main theories of leadership can be divided into several groups: trait theory, innate qualities and ‘great man theories’; behavioral theories which are task related or relationship related; situational and contingency theory, repertoire of style and expectancy theory; exchange and path-goal models; transformational leadership, charismatic and visionary leadership, ‘new leadership’; constitutive theory; leadership within learning organizations; and post- charismatic and post- transformational leadership theory (Storey, 2004).
In this essay, three leadership theories will be introduced and compared, involving the trait approach, contingency theory and transformational leadership theory.
However, since 1980s, globalization has been a growing important factor in the world’s economy.
With the rapid development of transnational industries, leaders are required to have a cross-cultural awareness (Northouse, 2013). New elements that have been added to the leadership theories will be explored.