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Development of Leadership Theories: Analytical Analysis

All these theories can be put in four categories that evolved through time.

First, there are Personality theories that appeared during 1920’s, like Great man theory or trait theory. They assumed that people inherent many important qualities and were naturally better to lead people. Authors tried to define what qualities someone must naturally have to be a great leader (for example: physic, social environnement, intelligence, personality…). However, there are some obvious weaknesses in these theories. Most of these features are not inborn and it doesn't take account of the leader’s environment (followers and situational variables).

Next, there are Behavioural Theories (1950-1970) They assume, in contrast to personality theories that the leaders can be made: not all are born leaders but there are particular behaviors that can be learnt to become leaders. So, this would mean that people can be trained to become leaders.

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From this point of view, Rensis Likert described 4 patterns of leadership: Exploitive-authoritative (highly autocratic and decision-making is centralized), benevolent-authoritative (can ask some advices to his subordinates but won’t necessary follow them), consultive (the leader use subordinate’s ideas and opinions. Moreover, strategic decisions are made at the top and more specific decisions are made at lower levels), democratic (good communication between all levels of hierarchy and the leader listen to employees opinion on every matter).

There are situational theories (1970-1990) Four factors determine leadership behaviour: the leader himself (his features), his followers (their abilities and if they are invested in their work), the organisation (tasks and size), and the company’s environment. The best leader is the one who is able to adapt his leadership style according to these factors. He has the choice between 5 management styles: Directive, participative (he listens, analyses and provides advice), consensual (shares decision-making power), persuasive (debate ideas and explain the reasons and consequences of his decisions), delegating.

Finally, there are transformational theories (1990-). they are the most recents. In this approach the leader focus on a way to change in a positive way his followers. He wants other to support each other and the organisation and then workers are willing to work harder. To achieve his goal, the leader will have to influence four factors:

  • Inspirational motivation: the leader is able to give a vision and values to the workers of the organisation. They have a sense of meaning that will motivate them.
  • intellectual motivation: He encourages the workers to be innovative and creative.
  • Idealized influence: The followers will trust their leader only if he is better than them “a leader can influence followers only when he practices what he preaches” .
  • Idealized influence: The followers are treated differently according to their achievements, talents, and knowledge. They are rewards when they demonstrate their abilities.

To conclude this part, team leadership theories evolved through time according to mentalities of workers who are not motivated by the same factors depending on periods.

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