Trait and Behavioral Approaches to Term Paper

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unsuccessful leaders in modern society, one will notice modern leaders considered successful are those that embrace change and work to empower subordinates and followers in a non-threatening manner, and in a manner that is consistent with other's ideologies and spiritual beliefs (Siegel, 2001). This confirms the theory of transformational leadership where leaders work to enable change in an uncomplicated and organized fashion. This theory of leadership is possible and logical today because so much of our time is invested in change, whether it is technological in nature (Couillard & Lapierre, 2003) or strategically based.

Complicating matters are modern notions of "transactional leadership" which suggest leaders, especially those working in an organizational context, must work to motivate people using an exact system. This system would reward and punish those who accomplished or failed to accomplish their goals (Gerzon, 2003). This seems illogical however, if one considers how far leadership has come or grown since early theories began to develop describing what constituted successful vs. unsuccessful leadership. While the transformational definition of leadership certainly makes more sense than the transactional style, there are still many that believe systems work best when a hierarchical chain or system is followed where a leader providers subordinates with duties, tasks or roles they must fulfill. Transactional leadership however is only marginally accepted however (Barnett & Shubert, 2002) because it suggests that when things are running as expected no change needs to be made. While this may seem logical, it does not make much sense because it does not provide leaders and subordinates an opportunity to account for the unexpected. Transformational leadership on the other hand, is something that will prepare leaders, subordinates and followers for anything they expect or do not expect because it focuses on change and managing change.


Early leadership theory suggested leaders were or were not successful largely based on certain traits they possessed or certain behaviors they demonstrated. Early theories suggested that most people were "born" leaders or furthered their education to adopt the traits they would need to succeed as leaders in society. Modern approaches to leadership however correctly note that leaders are successful when they embrace changes and demonstrate a wide selection of traits and behaviors. A leader may have to behave in different ways and may have to adopt or embrace different skill sets that coincide with diverse organizations or the diverse populations, cultures and people they plan to work with. What makes a leader successful is their ability to embrace multiple tactics, skills and behaviors and work with subordinates and followers in a way that empowers their followers or subordinates. This type of situation is more a win-win situation where the leader, subordinate and follower all benefit. There are however, logical and illogical aspects of the contemporary leader. This however, is not something that one should perceive as negative. Gerzon (2003) quotes James Macgregor Burns, noting leadership is above all else, something that is among "the most observed and least understood phenomenon on earth" (Burns, p.2). Part of the problems leaders have to day coincide with the lack of "common language" among leaders (Gerzon, 2003; Lederach, 2001; Kellerman, 1999).


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