Leadership Theories and Styles

Leadership theories refers to the approach that a manager adopts in order to exercise authority in the work place and be able to direct staff towards meeting the organizational mandate as outlined in their job descriptions. It is the way that a manager resorts in order to discharge all the sum total of responsibilities that entails management and leadership. Leadership theories have just recently been advanced and well understood, earlier literature that is available which attempted to identify and classify leadership theories focused on personality aspects that defined leaders and which defined followers. It was not until 1939 when, Kurt Lewin as the lead researcher was able to provide a well documented and thorough research of leadership theories at the time in a study that formed frameworks and references of future studies in leadership theories and styles
First theory of leadership is referred as Autocratic or authoritative style, as the name would suggest it refers to an approach where a manager maintains and run an organizational with a tight leash on the apparatus of power. A manager is this type of style expects his word to be law and employees do not have room to present their suggestion for consideration. Decisions are made at the highest level of an organization and handed down through established protocols to be implemented across the appropriate levels by the employees through existing organizational procedures. In this type of leadership motivation among employees is very minimal or nonexistent and the techniques that are used to provide motivation apply a combination of threats and promises such as benefits and retributions (Tannenbaum & Schmidt, 2008).

The other type of leadership theory is bureaucratic style of management. In this type of management a manager requires that all work procedures within the organization be done in such a way as clearly outlined in the organizational manual or according to the set policy. Regardless of situations that are unique and in which the organizational policies might not apply, a bureaucratic leader is more likely to insist on sticking to the organizational way of doing things (Tannenbaum & Schmidt, 2008). This leadership kills creativity in the work place and might give rise to work burn out, however it is appropriate in a work setting such as in laboratory research environment where all variables of interests are carefully controlled in order to achieve desired results.

The third type is democratic leadership style also referred as participative style since it strives to involve employee in organizational management and decision making. In this type leadership a manger understands that employee are more informed in some instances than their leaders and can therefore provide valuable insight that can enable informed decisions at the management level. It makes an employee feel important and appreciated at the work place and is therefore a very motivating method of running an organization. By involving employees in organization management and decision making serves to impart this skills in their routine job requirements besides grooming them for their next career levels within the organization (Tannenbaum & Schmidt, 2008). However this style is only effective in an organization where employees are skilled and very knowledgeable in their areas of specialty since they are less likely to make work related mistakes that might be costly to the organization.
The final and fourth leadership style is the Leissez-Faire a French word that loosely translated describes lack of interest, and rightly so because in this case a manager is almost detached away from the intricacies of organization and employee management. Much leeway is given to employee to use their best judgment and achieve individual or teamwork requirements, meet targets and work deadline (Hofstede, 2007). The manger hardly ever supervise employee or follow up on their progress but relies on internal organizational systems. As with the democratic style this style too should be adopted where the employee are qualified and competent in discharging their duties without direction and are mature to achieve self motivation.

This being the styles that a manager can use in organization and people management, there are other factors that are crucial in determining which leadership style a manager is likely to apply or indeed must apply in order to efficiently provide leadership. One is the managers personality type that is usually determined by the level of education, skills, experience, and previous work environment, this factors will significantly determine which approach a manager will use. For instance previous work environment could shape a managers future leadership roles to match with that experience.

Another factor is the personality type of the organizational employees that is also shaped by other factors such as skills, competence, experience and their level of position. Depending on the employees personality a manager might not have choice on the type of the leadership to use (Kovacevic & Builder, 2010). Finally an organizational values, traditions, and policies will also provide bearing as to how an organization is run and a manager might find that deviating from previous manager’s leadership approach might result in management crisis.
Geert Hofstede, the Germany psychologist who researched the revolutionary findings that provided the first measurable evidence between association of culture and organization in what he termed as power distance, explains that the approach that a leader adopts to manage people is as a result of the attitude of the manager towards the employees (2007). Positive leaders he notes are likely to adopt the democratic or Leissez-Fare style that places much trust in employees and sets to achieves motivation through providing rewards. Negative managers on the other hand are more predisposed to adopt authoritative leadership style that uses set of punishments to achieve employee cooperation and ensure motivation.

Leaders also use consideration and structure in employee and organizational management. In consideration the managers seeks to ensure that employees concerns are addressed and their need met. A manager therefore is aware that these way employees are more likely to perform well in discharging their duties through undivided attention. The other approach is structure where a leader approach to employee management is through increased task and job output assessment. The focus is on continuously providing employee with duties as the only way to measure employee performance (Hofstede, 2007).

Let us now do an analysis of leadership style in practice using examples of known organizations that are managed by leaders that we are familiar with. Google incorporation recently found in early 2000 is now worth billions of dollars and has revolutionized the way internet search is done; they have the most efficient online search engine which is the company trademark (Kovacevic & Builder, 2010). Google CEO Eric Schmidt organizational leadership perhaps is the single most significant factor that has contributed to the success of the organization besides it ability to continuously launch online innovate products compared to their rivals, Microsoft incorporation.

Microsoft Incorporation that was establish decades ago by it founder and present CEO Bill Gates has been in the business of developing consumer software’s and recently has increasingly ventured towards cutting a niche of market share that is presently found online. Microsoft incorporation has decades of experience in consumer development products and marketing strategies that rivals Google, now it biggest competitor and the undisputed leader on online advertisement and its search engine that’s can now been enabled through use of 36 languages (Kovacevic & Builder, 2010).

Microsoft Incorporation strengths lies in it experience and domination of the market for many years and it organizational strengths. Bill Gate the leader and CEO of Microsoft has over time adopted leadership style that has been instrumental in defining Microsoft organizational values, traditions and management approaches at other levels. The management style that Bill Gate has now used for a long time and which defines Microsoft Incorporation is the one where employees are managed top down by their manager with the managers exercising great control and clout in decision making process (Kovacevic & Builder, 2010). Bill Gates is the leader who has largely shaped the vision and organizational direction that Microsoft has so far taken over the years.
Hofstede G. (2007). Culture and Organizations: Software of the Mind. New York: McGraw- Hill Publishers.
Kovacevic, L., & Builder, A.U. (2010). Google Incorporation Vs Microsoft Incorporation.
Retrieved April 9, 2010 from http://www.builderau.com.au/strategy/soa/Google-vs-Microsoft/0,2000064882,339290499,00.htm
Tannenbaum, R., & Schmidt, W. (2008). How to Choose a leadership Pattern. Harvard Business
Review, 733(23), Retrieved April 9th 2010 from http//www.havardbusinessreview.org
U.S. Army Handbook. (1973). Military Leadership. Washington DC. Government Press. 

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