Leadership Models and Theories


Fiedler's Contingency Model.

Leadership Traits

Leadership theories that attempt to identify the common traits possessed by successful leaders.  These traits included:

·         Adaptable to situations

·         Alert to social environment

·         Ambitious and achievement oriented

·         Assertive

·         Cooperative

·         Decisive

·         Dependable

·         Dominant (desire to influence others)

·         Energetic (high activity level)

·         Persistent

·         Self-confident

·         Tolerant of stress

·         Willing to assume responsibility


However the list is ever growing and no definitive list is possible


Leadership Styles and Behaviours

A different perspective to trait theory for leadership is to consider what leaders actually do as opposed to their underlying characteristics.  A number of models and theories have been put forward to explore this.


T. McGregor (1906-1964) postulated that managers tend to make two different assumptions about human nature.  These views he explored in his theory X and theory Y:




Theory X

1.       The average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if he or she can.

2.       Because of this human characteristic, most people must be coerced, controlled, directed, and threatened with punishment to get them to put forth adequate effort toward the achievement of organisational objectives.

3.       The average human being prefers to be directed, wishes to avoid responsibility, has relatively little ambition, and wants security above all.

Theory Y

1.       The expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest.

2.       External control and threat of punishment are not the only means for brining about effort toward organisational objectives.  People will exercise self-direction and self-control in the service of objectives to which they are committed.

3.       Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement.

4.       The average human being learns, under proper conditions, not only to accept responsibility but to seek it.

5.       The capacity to exercise a relatively high degree of imagination. Ingenuity, and creativity in the solution of organisational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed I the population.

6.       Under the conditions of modern industrial life, the intellectual potentialities of the average human being are only partially utilised.



Other studies were carried out to identify successful leadership behaviours, including studies at Ohio State University and Michigan University, following on from this research two studies of particular note were by Gary M. Yukl and by Robert Blake and Jane Mounton.


Ohio State University Research


A series of studies at the University indicated that two behavioural dimensions play a significant role in successful leadership.  Those dimensions are:

Consideration – (friendship, mutual trust, respect and warmth)

Initiating Structure – (organises and defines relationships or roles, establishes well-defined patterns of organisation, channels of communication, and ways of getting jobs done.)



University of Michigan Research 

Studies carried at the university revealed two similar aspects of leadership style that correlate with effectiveness:

Employee Orientation – (the human-relations aspect, in which employees are viewed as human beings with individual, personal needs)

Production Orientation – (Stress on production and the technical aspects of the job, with employees viewed as the means of getting the work done.


Gary M. Yukl felt that there was a void in existing descriptions of leader behaviour.  They did not provide specific guidelines for behaviour in varying situations.  He and his colleagues isolated eleven leadership behaviours which fall into four broad categories:



Building Relationships

1.       Networking

2.       Supporting

3.       Managing conflict


Influencing People

4.       Motivating

5.       Recognising and rewarding


Making Decisions

6.       Planning and organising

7.       Problem solving

8.       Consulting and delegating


Giving / Seeking Information

9.       Monitoring operations and environment

10.   Informing

11.   Clarifying roles

The Leadership Grid

Robert Blake and Jane Mouton developed another theory called the Leadership Grid, focusing on production/relationship orientations uncovered in the Ohio State and Michigan University studies.  They went a little further by creating a grid based on Leaders’ concern for people (relationships) and production (tasks).  It theory suggest there is a best way to lead people the 9,9 way.


   The leadership Grid


The Major Leadership Grid Styles

1,1        Impoverished management. Often referred to as Laissez-faire leadership.  Leaders in this position have little concern for people or productivity, avoid taking sides, and stay out of conflicts.  They do just enough to get by.

1,9        Country Club management.  Managers in this position have great concern for people and little concern for production.  They try to avoid conflicts and concentrate on being well liked.  To them the task is less important than good interpersonal relations.  Their goal is to keep people happy.  (This is a soft Theory X approach and not a sound human relations approach.)

9,1        Authority-Compliance.  Managers in this position have great concern for production and little concern for people.  They desire tight control in order to get tasks done efficiently.  They consider creativity and human relations to be unnecessary.

5,5        Organisation Man Management.  Often termed middle-of-the-road leadership.  Leaders in this position have medium concern for people and production.  They attempt to balance their concern for both people and production, but they are not committed.

9+9      Paternalistic “father knows best” management.  A style in which reward is promised for compliance and punishment threatened for non-compliance

Opp  Opportunistic “what’s in it for me” management.  In which the style utilised depends on

         which style the leader feels will return him or her the greatest self-benefit.

9,9        Team Management.  This style of leadership is considered to be ideal.  Such managers have great concern for both people and production.  They work to motivate employees to reach their highest levels of accomplishment.  They are flexible and responsive to change, and they understand the need to change.




Contingency Approaches

Contingency theories propose that fro any given situation there is a best way to manage.  Contingency theories go beyond situational approaches, which observe that all factors must be considered when leadership decisions are to be made. Contingency theories attempt to isolate the key factors that must be considered and to indicate how to manage when those key factors are present.  


The continuum of Leadership Behaviour

The model put forward by Robert Tannenbaum and Warren H. Schmidt framed leadership in terms of choices managers may make regarding subordinates’ participation in decision making.


 The continuum of leadership behaviour

The actions shown at the left side of the continuum are relatively authoritarian; those at the right side are relatively participative.  The manager’s choices depend on three factors:



1.       Forces in the manager: The manager’s value system, confidence in subordinates, leadership inclinations, and feelings of security in an uncertain situation.

2.       Forces in the subordinate: Expectations, need for independence, readiness to assume decision-making responsibility, tolerance for ambiguity in task definition, interest in the problem, ability to understand and identify with the goals of the organisation, and knowledge and experience to deal with the problem.

3.       Forces in the situation:  Type of organisation, effectiveness of the group, the problem itself (the task), and time pressure.



Fielder’s Contingency Model

In this model leadership is effective when the leader’s style is appropriate to the situation, as determined by three principal factors:



1.       Leader-member relations: The nature of the interpersonal relationship between leader and follower, expressed in terms of good through poor, with qualifying modifiers attached as necessary.  It is obvious that the leader’s personality and the personalities of subordinates play important roles in this variable.

2.       Task structure: The nature of the subordinate’s task, described as structured or unstructured, associated with the amount of creative freedom allowed the subordinate to accomplish the task, and how the task is defined.

3.       Position power:  The degree to which the position itself enables the leader to get the group members to comply with and accept his or her direction and leadership



Fielder's Contingency Model

Path-Goal Theory

A leadership theory that focuses on the need for leaders to make rewards contingent on the accomplishment of objectives and to aid group members in attaining rewards by clarifying the paths to goals and removing obstacles to performance.  According to the goal-path theory there are four primary styles of leadership:


1.       Directive Leadership: The leader explains the performance goal and provides specific rules and regulations to guide subordinates toward achieving it.

2.       Supportive Leadership: The leader displays personal concern for subordinates.  This includes being friendly to subordinates and sensitive to their needs.

3.       Achievement-oriented Leadership:  The leader emphasises the achievement of difficult tasks and the importance of excellent performance and simultaneously displays confidence that subordinates will perform well.

4.       Participative Leadership: The leader consults with subordinates about work, task goals, and paths to resolve goals.  This leadership style involves sharing information as well as consulting with subordinates before making decisions.



The Path-Goal Model

 The Path-Goal Model




Action Centred Leadership

A model proposed by John Adair (1973) argued that it is not who you are but what you do which establishes you as a leader.  A leader needs to balance the needs of the task, the team and the individual, shown clearly in the diagram below in his 3 circle model.  The effective leader carries out the functions and demonstrates the behaviours appropriate to the circles, varying the level according to the needs of the situation.  The leader whilst balancing the three circles, sits in his/her helicopter above the process, ensuring the best possible overview of what is happening.

Action Centred Leadership Model





Leaders Behaviour under Task

·         Providing clear Objectives

·         Providing appropriate procedures

·         Ensuring there is evidence of progress

·         Ensuring avoidance of digression

·         Ensuring deadlines are met

 Leaders Behaviour under Team

·         Commitment

·         Trust & Openness

·         Sense of purpose

·         Stability

·         Cohesion

·         Success

·         Fun

Leaders Behaviour under Individual

·         To be included

·         To make a contribution

·         To be respected

·         To receive Feedback

·         To feel safe

·         To grow



The Leaders Blueprint






Define Objectives

Identify Tasks and Constraints


Hold team meetings Share Commitment

Clarify Objectives

Gain Acceptance







Consider options

Check resources

Consult     Encourage Ideas

Develop Suggestions     Assess skills



Prioritise   Time scales



Allocate Jobs  Delegate

Set targets


Clarify Objectives   Describe plan


Explain decisions   Listen  Answer questions  Enthuse  Check understanding

Monitor Support

Assess Progress   Maintain standards

Co-ordinate  Reconcile conflict  Recognise effort



Counsel  Discipline


Summarise Progress

Review Objectives

Re-plan Objectives if necessary

Recognise and gain from Success

Learn from Mistakes

Appraise Performance

Guide and Train             Give Praise 


Posted by Jeonghwan Choi

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