Gap Between Leadership Theory and Leadership Practice Essay

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Gap between Leadership Theory and Leadership Practice

Leadership gaps tend to fall within the realm of practice because it is in practice, rather than in theory, that the act of leadership is demonstrated, seen, felt and experienced. However, Middlehurst (2008) explains that the gaps are really between theory and practice, i.e., what is evident in theory is not being implemented in the practice of leadership. This makes sense, particularly as there are plenty of leadership theories and styles that can facilitate the development and act of leadership. Yet, because every leadership situation is unique and no two leaders or set of followers the same, there is a great deal of adjustment and adaptation that must take place in any event. This is why Franken, Edwards and Lambert (2009) note that there is always going to be the “difficult challenge faced by managers to balance the demands of successfully executing complex change programs with the demands of managing today’s business performance” (p. 50). Part of the difficulty, according to Middlehurst (2008) is that leadership is a skill that not all people possess; to have successful leaders, one needs to recruit well.

Ho, Yong, Ching and Boon (2009) argue that the ultimate problem is one of preference vs. perception. Followers tend to have leadership preferences, and their leaders often tend to try to satisfy those preferences by adopting multiple leadership styles. However, the perception does not always match the preference and leaders end up coming up short in terms of coming across as genuine. Ultimately what needs to be done is that leaders…

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…last longest on city council are the ones who do not attempt to appease all or various groups by altering their leadership style from one group to the next. Instead, they are the leaders who consistently demonstrate the same style, same principles, same outlook, mission and vision no matter what the situation or audience is. They do not change their appearance or their views based on the latest political trend or scandal. These leaders, and there are just a handful of them, are seen as the ones who really are most effective at leading the city and making sure the needs of the community are addressed. The others bumble their way along and never achieve anything other than promoting antagonism and anger throughout the community for what is perceived as their lack of authentic leadership.…

Sources Used in Documents:


Franken, A., Edwards, C., & Lambert, R. (2009). Executing strategic change. California Management Review, 51(3), 49-73.

Ho, J. S. Y., Yong, D., Ching, P. W., & Boon, K. (2009). Closing the leadership gaps: Preferred and perceived leadership style among life insurance agents. Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 3(3), 2437-2446.

Middlehurst, R. (2008). Not enough science or not enough learning? Exploring the gaps between leadership theory and practice. Higher Education Quarterly, 62(4), 322-339.

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