Leadership Theories

Leadership theories are broad and different in their approach to leading people. On the whole there are principles which transcend all of these theories and leadership lime focus primarily more on leadership characteristics. These leadership characteristics flow through all of leadership but we must be aware of different leadership ideologies and ideals.




Why do we need know these theories? Well, there are different situations for us leaders and we must have many techniques and styles in our arsenal. Flexibility is important for leadership and to be able to achieve more in our lives we should study these leadership templates. For further investigation read through out situational leadership theory page which encompasses the purpose for this. Situational leadership theory utilizes these ways of leading (theories) and shows how practical they really are.


Important Opportunity: Have you ever wondered what your primary leadership style is? We have created a tool which may help you discover your natural leading style. Our Leadership test will give you some direction to learn where you naturally fit and give you the information that you need to understand why you lead the way you do.

Theories and Styles

Participative/Democratic Leadership

This leadership style is self-explanatory as it focuses on more equality and participation of team members. Although you still have the final decision the team members believe that their voice actually makes a difference in the overall results.

Pros: High Job satisfaction, more productive, skills development and better quality of work.

Cons: Slow decision making, loss of efficiency and time wasting.


Task Driven Leadership

This theory focuses almost completely on the task which needs to be achieved. These leaders monitor the processes and systems while almost entirely putting value on accomplishment of the task.

Pros: Deadlines are met, development of time wasting team members and shows capability of leader.

Cons: Motivational problems, less value on team members and severe boundaries which limit innovation.


Autocratic Leadership

Throughout these theories Autocratic Leadership is probably the most infamous and often rejected. There are definitely situations where this is needed, although few and far between. Autocratic leadership is basically you as the leader having complete power over your team/people. Often abused in history, which I guess is why it is infamous!

Pros: incredible efficiency, work gets done and decisions are made quickly.

Cons: Resentment of team members, high staff turn over and absenteeism.


Bureaucratic Leadership

This leadership style is often misinterpreted and disgusted by leaders. Bureaucratic Leaders follow the rules to the max and make sure everyone else follows every little procedure that the book has in it. This is often used in environments where breaking a rule or making a mistake can cause a lot of damage and/or serious injury.

Pros: Great for routine tasks, stopping workplace injuries and in workplaces that deal with large amounts of money.

Cons: Ineffective in most teams, refuses innovation and creativity, and makes flexibility a sin.


Charismatic Leadership

This is one of the most effective and most used leadership traits in modern teams. Often used in transformational leadership it is often positive and people building. These leaders use charisma and energy to lead others.

Pros: Transform organisations, energetic and motivating and encourages creativity and innovation.

Cons: The focus can be on themselves, large risks, often teams fall apart when leader leaves and false self belief.


Laissez Faire Leadership

This theory is quite contemporary in that its almost completely hands-off on the side of the team leader. The leader focuses primarily on the leadership theory and vision behind the team rather than actually 'leading' or 'managing' the team directly.

Pros: There is a lot of trust involved throughout the team, the effectiveness hasn't been totally explored so there is a lot of potential.

Cons: Lack of 'ideal' leading, not very people orientated and usually doesn't get good results.


Great Man Theory

Great man theory is a historical challenge to people in order to explain the role of leadership through history and sociology. Although mostly disregarded since the 19th century there are still interesting narratives and lessons to be learnt through this structure.

Pros: It is a theory that exemplifies courage and shows the power of the single person.

Cons: Mostly disregarded by all leadership since the 19th century, it lacks the power to look forward and set a structure for leadership today, but rather focuses on the past.


Trait Theory of Leadership

This leadership theory focuses on the idea that leaders are born and not made. However, it doesn't stop at that controversial statement but then realizes the ability to develop leadership skills and qualities throughout the life of any leader.

Pros: The focus on development and capability hand in hand shows the important journey of leaders and organizations.

Cons: This theory is based on leaders being born rather than 'made' and this can disqualify some people from its development plan.

These are five of the most prominent theories. We'll definately develop these in the future and show more detail in how they respond to situations. These leadership theories are essential for team leadership as you must know how to lead in different circumstances. In your leadership-lifetime you'll need to assimilate a few of these.

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