The development of leadership theories has been present for decades and has integrated the works of researchers, philosophers, and cognitive experts. These professionals introduced key concepts that would train people to become good leaders in their organizations. This essay focuses on five main leadership theories that have been implemented to solve various leadership issues in numerous organizations. These leadership theories include transformational leadership, leadership theory, behavioral theory, transactional theory, and situational contingency theory. These theories will be analyzed based on a given case study that would then reflect their applicability.
Transformational leadership theory entails a leader’s approach to changing people and the social systems surrounding them. The theory creates a positive and valuable change among those who practice and encourages its followers to accomplish a common goal. This concept is essential in business organizations, especially when struggling to motivate their employees. For instance, a given organization might see a high rate of staff demotivation in its operations. The increased demotivation might be a factor of boredom, lack of training or career progressions, unfavorable working environment, or even low confidence in executing various operations. In this case, leaders need to assume transformational theory, which will change the mindset of their employees before implementing programs such as training sessions (Heyler & Martin, 2018). With the transformational theory in practice in such a business context, the leaders will establish an attractive and appealing vision, formulate achievable challenging aims, encourage employee confidence, and stress the importance of the spirit of expected values. When transformational theory is applied, the ultimate result is the creation of a positive corporate environment that unequivocally raises employee motivation.
Contingency theory entails the application of various leadership styles based on the context of a situation. According to supporters of contingency theory, an effective leader is defined by their ability to determine the proper equilibrium of context, needs, and behavior. Effective leaders need to understand that variables exist that affect various situations and require a specific approach to solving them. For example, in a given organization, an employee may complain that the supervisor or the manager does not like working with them because of various things. The employee complains about being assigned low-quality work compared to others and believes that they are constantly being paired with more competent workers (Guhr et al., 2019). The situation is unique, requiring the supervisor to apply contingency theory to solve the underlying problem.
One of the contingency approaches that the supervisor might use is Fiedler’s contingency approach which applies the least preferred co-worker (LPC) scale to determine the employee that a leader least likes working with. This scale can gauge the supervisor’s leadership method as either relationship-oriented or task-oriented (Guhr et al., 2019). When the former is indicated, the complainant is deemed valid and necessary measures are implemented to correct the relationship between the staff and supervisor.
Transactional leadership theory involves the leadership exchange theories that underlie organization, supervision, and teamwork. The theory highlights the essence of punishments and rewards as the foundation of leadership traits. According to the theory of preponement, an employee should be rewarded when they perform quality work, such as high levels of accuracy, increased thoroughness, and competency in operations. Conversely, an employee who fails to meet the organization’s codes, such as attire and time management, is entitled to punishment. In a case example, Manchester United’s coach, Ralf Rangnick, motivates his players by promoting the reward the team will accrue in case they win various games. The coach instills a high commitment to the players, making the players aspire to risk injury and pain to obtain the best results.
In most cases, transactional theory cherishes monetary compensation, especially in the business context. The theory proposes that employees are not self-motivated, meaning they need something that would boost their inspiration. In that case, most businesses use money as the inspiring factor. They increase the salaries of the best performers or give them daily tips when the sales are beyond what the organization had targeted (Kanat-Maymon et al., 2020). Generally, the transactional theory states that workers should be compensated with rewards when they perform top-notch work and should be punished when they work contrary to the organization’s expectations.
Behavioral theory acknowledges the traits and qualities of leaders in controlling their employees’ actions. The theory proposes that most leaders’ traits are acquired from learning them from other people who have succeeded in their leadership roles. This theory is imperative as it gives leaders a chance to explore the various actions that can be adapted to make them the leaders they aspire to be. For instance, the theory increases flexibility and adaptability capacities, allowing them to solve problems under various circumstances, such as when the business is facing massive losses or when the supply chain system has been affected adversely by tariffs and taxes (Siangchokyoo et al., 2020). Behavioral theory focuses on actions more than the quality of leaders. Additionally, this theory presents styles that are adaptable by other leaders, thus gaining the name style theory.
Some of the leadership methods offered by this theory include people-oriented and task-oriented leadership approaches. These leadership styles acquire their names based on the actions that leaders adopt in solving problems. For example, when a problem arises in the marketing department, such as infringement of a customer’s privacy, a task-oriented leader will focus on the activity to see if there is a need to alter it to solve the concern. Conversely, a people-oriented leader will focus on the individuals, such as the product promotion team, and approach them to ask what the issues are and what might be done to solve the problem. Country club leadership offers a 90% high concern for people but a 10% low concern for production (Thompson & Glaso, 2018). Nevertheless, various behavioral theory styles have varying concerns for production and people.
Situational Leadership Theory
This theory entails adopting differing leadership methods based on the situation and the level of development of the organization’s staff. Additionally, it integrates four methods of leadership, namely, directing, coaching, supporting, and delegation, when the theory is applied in an organizational context. Based on follower maturity levels, directing involves 25%, coaching 50%, supporting 75%, and deleting 100% of employee maturity levels (Wang, 2018). Directing involves a one-way street where the leader controls the subjects, with the latter offering little input. Directing is common when leaders give step-by-step instructions guiding employees on how a task should be done and when it should be completed. Coaching is applied when the subjects are highly motivated and need much guidance.
Supporting leadership style is used when the employees or subjects have skills in performing a task but lack sufficient confidence to execute it. For instance, a bank account may show anxiety working in the corporate section as they fear making huge losses due to dealing with large amounts of money. The leader might approach this worker and offer average amounts of direction. Lastly, delegating leadership style applies to employees who have high confidence, motivation, and ability to perform tasks (Wang, 2018). The leader only assigns tasks without many explanations and directions.
Leadership theories enhance the development of good leadership skills essential in handling various business scenarios. Transformational leadership is imperative in increasing staff motivation, contingency theory in determining relationship- or task-oriented leadership, and behavioral approach in encouraging employees to meet their goals. By understanding leadership theories, these cases, such as staff demotivation, will be handled from the top-management perspective before implementing motivating factors. Generally, leadership theories equip leaders with skills to handle varying business problems.
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Heyler, S. G., & Martin, J. A. (2018). Servant leadership theory: Opportunities for additional theoretical integration. Journal of Managerial Issues, 230-243.
Kanat-Maymon, Y., Elimelech, M., & Roth, G. (2020). Work motivations as antecedents and outcomes of leadership: Integrating self-determination theory and the full-range leadership theory. European Management Journal, 38(4), 555-564.
Siangchokyoo, N., Klinger, R. L., & Campion, E. D. (2020). Follower transformation as the linchpin of transformational leadership theory: A systematic review and future research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 31(1), 101341.
Thompson, G., & Glaso, L. (2018). Situational leadership theory: a test from a leader-follower congruence approach. Leadership & Organization Development Journal.
Wang, F. (2018). Social justice leadership—theory and practice: A case of Ontario. Educational Administration Quarterly, 54(3), 470-498.