Leadership for Organizations Term Paper

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Leadership for Organizations


The success of organizations and individuals' careers are influenced by the role of leaders. Nowadays firms seek leadership skills in individuals for all sorts of careers while recruiting. Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) believe that it has become critically important to nurture leadership approach at all levels of the organization (Lussier, Achua, 2009, p. 4).

The topic of leadership has been gaining tremendous attention of academic world and media (Bass, Riggio, 2006, p. 17). Many experts have written about leadership and the challenges related to it as the subject is highly valued and at the same time a complex phenomenon (Northouse, 2009, p. 1).

In today's world individuals need to develop skills and capabilities required in professional world through personal development. They need to assess their strengths, weaknesses, leadership competencies and goals in order to achieve leadership capabilities (Rothstein 2010).

Leaders need to possess a wide range of skills and capabilities in order to be able to establish themselves as leaders and lead their followers efficiently. Similarly, the role of followers is also very important in this process. Both leaders and followers are part of leadership process hence the needs and expectations of both of them must be understood clearly to establish a good relationship between them and run the process smoothly (Northouse, 2009, p. 8).

Research Question

The study is being conducted to find out about leadership and how one can imply leadership competencies to achieve personal and professional goals.

Literature Review

Leadership can be defined as experiences and chances of a person's life that bestow him with a vision and some goals, provide him with skills to communicate his vision and goals to win following, and use his competencies to identify means and unite and activate the followers to realize the vision and goals and derive outcomes from his and his followers' joint effort for the benefit of himself and his followers (Rejai, Philips, 2004).

Leadership has been the topic of discussion for years. Scholars and practitioners have developed several leadership theories based on different approaches. Here is a brief look at different approaches of leadership:

Trait Approach

This approach is one of the early developments of leadership theorization. The leadership traits were studied in twentieth century to identify what differentiate leaders from non-leaders. The theories developed as a result of this study were named as "great man" theories as they attempted to identify inborn qualities and traits held by great political, social and military leaders (Northouse, 2009, p. 15). It was believed that there are few characteristics that are possessed by a few people who stand out as leaders.

In the mid-20th century, researcher challenged the trait approach claiming that leadership is not conditioned with certain traits. Researchers believed that a person with certain qualities who was leader in one situation may not be a leader in other situation (Northouse, 2009, p. 15).

Skills Approach

The skills approach focuses on skills and abilities of an individual that can be learned and developed unlike traits and characteristics which are natural and inborn. The skills approach suggests that certain abilities and knowledge are required for effective leadership. The development of this approach is an attempt to transcend trait issues by addressing that leadership is not bound to certain traits only instead it can be developed (Northouse, 2009, p. 39). A leader who possesses ability to resolve complex organizational problems can turn out to be an effective leader.

Style Approach

The style approach places emphasis on the behavior undertaken by the leader. This approach is distinguished from trait approach and skills approach as it lays emphasis specifically on what leaders do and how they do. This approach incorporates the actions of leaders in relation to their sub-ordinates (Northouse, 2009, p. 69).

A number of researches have been conducted to explore style approach to strengthen the idea that it is needed to investigate further than just leaders' traits in leadership study (Northouse, 2009, p. 69)

Situational Approach

Situational approach is one of the widely known approaches to leadership, developed by Blanchard and Hersey in 1969 centered on 3-D management style theory of Reddin (1967). This approach has been revised and refined by many scholars and practitioners and has been used widely in the training and development of organizational leadership (Northouse, 2009, p. 89).

The situational approach centers leadership in situations. The approach suggests that different kinds of leadership are demanded in different situations. From this point-of-view, a person needs to adjust his style according to the demands of the situations (Northouse, 2009, p. 89).

Contingency Theory

Under this approach, the effectiveness of leader is determined by the interaction of leader's characteristics and the elements of a specific situation. The effectiveness of leader depends on the degree of his control over the situation.

Control depends on three factors; leader- follower relationship, the degree of task structure and the authority or position power held by the leader. A leader who is popular among his followers, who directs routine or highly structured tasks and who possesses higher degree of authority or power to enforce discipline have a higher degree of control over the situation (Duane, 2010, p. 100).

Path- Goal Theory

The path- goal theory of leadership entails types of behavior a leader uses to enable subordinates to achieve their goals. The theory suggests that leaders can modify subordinates' performance, motivation and job satisfaction by offering those rewards on achieving particular goals. The theory signifies that leaders can support employees to achieve personal and organizational goals by directing them the right path to follow and also providing them with the resources to achieve the goals (Duane, 2010, p. 100).

The theory suggests four different styles to attain employee goals, directive leadership, supportive leadership, participative leadership, and achievement leadership (Duane, 2010, pp. 100- 101).

Leader Member Exchange Theory

This leader member exchange model focuses on the ways in which leader- follower relationship influences the process of leadership. This model has been criticized for considering average leadership styles and overlooking individual differences amid subordinates. Scholars believe that each pair of leader and follower must be measured separately as leaders do not behave with each subordinate in same way (Duane, 2010, p. 101).

The conventional leadership scholars and their theories were more concerned with the peripheral elements of leadership such as personality characteristics, traits, greatness, born or made issues group facilitation, effectiveness, goodness, style, goal attainment, contingencies, situations and the most importantly the management of organizations (Rost, 1993, p. 3). They were also more interested in what they ought to know about a specific organization, profession or society. They were more focused on content of leading rather than the process of leading. This focus is reflected through seminars and workshops on the content of leadership as against process. The media, articles and journals, all focus more on content than on process (Rost, 1993, pp. 3- 4).

Leadership is a dynamic relationship between leaders and followers hence it must be studied in this context. The process of leadership should be discussed to achieve the purpose of leadership rather than associating it with peripheral elements (Rost, 1993, p. 4).

Since 1990s, scholars and practitioners have taken interest in studying leadership with less emphasis on the content and peripheral elements and more stress on its core nature (Rost p. 4).


Research methodology is selected on the basis of the type of research. The research philosophy in this study is positivist approach because secondary data has been used that has been analyzed through reasoning. This study is going to contribute to already existing information on the subject. The study would be helpful in clarifying and explaining ideas through observation and data utilized.

The research approach employed for this study is deductive approach. Using this approach, the implication of leadership skills in one's personal and professional life has been studied.

The study has been conducted using secondary data that has been acquired through various sources such as books, scholarly journals, online journals and reliable websites. No information has been obtained from any unauthentic source. The veracity of data has been checked through its originating sources to ensure authentic research.

Analysis / Discussion

Most of the leadership theories can be summed up in three concepts; transactional, transformational or transcendent.

Transactional Leadership

This style of leadership is based on the structure of reward-for-effort. In other words, it has been structured on the basis of the exchange of financial reward as against human output or production; the system of give and get motivates followers. This form of leadership can be implicated in the realm of everyday organizational operations (Zacko-Smith, 2010, pp. 2- 3) in order to increase the efficacy of established procedures and routines. This is effective where existing rules are to be followed rather than modifying the organizational structure (Duane, 2010, p. 104).

Leadership theories that can be shelled under this framework are leader- member exchange theory, trait leadership, path- goal leadership as none of these theories focuses on the leader- follower relationship instead they are concerned with personal attributes,…

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