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Leadership & Leadership Style

Leadership & Leadership Style

Definition of Leadership

  1. According to George R. Terry and S.G. Franklin, “Leadership is the relationship in which one person (the leader) influences others to work together willingly on related takes to attain goals desired by the leader and or group.”
  2. As per Louis A. Allen, “A leader is one who guides and directs other people. He gives the efforts of his followers a direction and purpose by influencing their behaviour,”
  3. In the words of Keith Davis, “Leadership is the process of encouraging and helping others to work enthusiastically towards objectives. It is the human factor that helps a group identify where it is going and then motivates it towards its goals.”
  4. According to Koontz, O’Donnell and Withrich “Leadership is the art or process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically toward the achievement of group goals…. To lead is to guide, conduct, direct and precede.

Conclusion: On analyzing the above definitions, the common characteristics of a leader are that he leads, influences, inspires and directs the behaviour of a group to achieve the desired goal. It is a process of influencing and inspiring the group to accomplish the group goal.

Leadership Styles

Leadership style refers to the pattern of behaviour which a leader adopts in influencing the behaviours of organizational members towards the attainment of enterprise objectives. A variety of leadership styles have been suggested by people who have studied the leadership area of management. Some of the more important leadership styles are as follows:

  1. Autocratic Leaders-

    An autocratic leader is one who commands and expects compliance, who is dogmatic and positive, and who leads by the ability to withhold or give rewards and punishments. This type of leader is also known as authoritarian, directive or nomadic leader. This type of leadership is characterized by maximum possible centralization of authority, close supervision unilateral decision making and one-way communication. It is boss centred leadership.

An autocratic leader may be of three types; strict, benevolent and incompetent. A strict autocrat is one who has negative sanctions, expects unquestioned obedience, and imposes penalty, benevolent autocrat also centralizes decision making power in him, but the uses positive rewards to influence group behaviour. Leaders who adopt autocratic style of leadership in order to hide their incompetence and to avoid being exposed before their subordinate are called in competent autocrats.


There are many advantages of autocratic leadership.

    • It provides strong motivation and rewards for the leader.
    • It permits quick decision making because decisions are made by one person.
    • It suits those sub-managers who are less competent and who cannot take major part in planning organizing, decision making etc.
    • People in the organization dislike this style of leadership especially if it is extreme and motivational style is negative.
    • Employees lack motivation and they work at “half-steam because their drives and creativity are not released.
    • The organizational environment under this type of leadership is characterized by frustration, low morale and conflict.
  1. Democratic Leadership-

    The democratic leader draws ideas and suggestions from his group by discussion, consultation and participation. Such a leader is also known as participative, consultative or ideographic leader. A participative leader decentralizes his decision-making power; he leads by the consent of the group rather than by the use of authority. Democratic leadership is characterized by decentralized authority, participation, two-way communication and effective delegation. It is group-centred leadership.


Democratic leadership offers many advantages.

    • There is a high level of co-operation, satisfaction and morale in the organization.
    • The quality of decision making improves because of the participation of subordinates.
    • the resistance to change is minimum because subordinates are involved in decision making.
    • The growth and development of employees is the most because they know their goals, and have the necessary freedom to attain them.
    • Democratic leadership is liked and accepted by every member of the group.
    • This style of leadership can be successful only when employees are literate, informed and organized, can develop self-discipline, and can take sound and independent action.
    • Technology and organizations today are so complex that specialized work roles are required, making it difficult for people to participate successfully if they go very far beyond their particular environment.
    • Employees often are reluctant to participate. It will be of no use pushing them into its mould mainly because the leader thinks it is good for them.
    • There is likelihood that practitioners become lost in the procedures of participating while overlooking its philosophy.
  1. Free rein Leaders-

    A free -rein or laissez-faire leader avoids power, gives subordinates a high degree of independence, or free-rain in their operations, and depends largely on subordinates to set their own goals and means of achieving them. Under such leadership style group members train themselves and provide their own motivation. The leader exists primarily as a contact with the group’s external environment to bring the group the information and resources it needs to accomplish goals. It is sub-ordinates centred leadership.

This type of leadership style can work in organizations where subordinates are highly competent duty conscious and motivated to such an extent that they can accomplish their goals without a leader. However, such situations are rarely found, Free-rein leadership style fails to provide leader inspired motivation and permits different units of an organization to proceed at cross-purposes. It can degenerate into chaos.

Leadership Theories

There are a large number of leadership theories.

  1. Tennenbaum and Schmidt’s-

This leadership is situational and contingent implying that it involves a variety of styles depending upon the time, situation and follower’s disposition. This fact has been characterized by Tannenbaum and Schmidt in the form of a concept called leadership continuum. At the one end of the leadership continuum is ‘boss cantered’ or ‘task centred’ leadership and at the other end is the ‘subordinate centred’ leadership. As one moves away from the boss-centred style towards subordinate-centred style of leadership, the degree of freedom a manager g rants to subordinates increases. Thus, instead of suggesting a choice between the two styles of leadership authoritarian of democratic, the leadership continuum approach offers a range of styles, with no suggestion that one is always right and another is wrong.

The continuum theory recognizes that what style of leadership is appropriate depends on the leader, the follower, and the situation. The continuum mode., as shown in Figure, is the revised version of what Tannenbaum and Schmidt had first formulated in 1958. In this new version, the circle around the model shows the influence on leadership style imposed both by the organization environment and the societal environment. This model also emphasizes the interdependency of leadership style and environmental forces that challenge the rights of managers to make decisions or handle their subordinates without considering interests outside the organization.

The continuum approach to leadership presents a composite and practical view of leadership. It makes it clear that there is no ideal or standard style of leadership which will be successful in all situations. A manager is required to use different orientations under different situations; an effective leader is one who adapts his style according to the requirements of the situation. The main drawback of this approach is that it ignores other orientations like social responsibility.

2. Likert’s Management system-

Professor Resins Likert and his associates at the University of Michigan, U.S.A. have studied the patterns and styles of leaders and managers and have developed certain ideas and approaches important to understanding leadership behaviour. Likert has posited four systems of management to clarify his concepts and ideas of leadership style. System 1 management described as exploitative authoritative, is represented by managers who are highly autocratic, have little trust and confidence in subordinates, motivate peopled through fear and punishment with occasional rewards, engage in down ward communication and seldom get ideas and opinions of subordinates in solving job problems, and limit decision making to the top. System, 2 management, referred to as benevolent, authoritative, is represented by managers who have codes sending confidence and trust in subordinates, motivate with rewards and some fear and punishment, permit some upward communication, solicit some ideas and opining from subordinates in solving job problems, and allow some delegation of decision making but with close policy control. System 3 management called consultative, is represented by managers who have substantial but net complete confidence and trust in subordinates, usually, try to make use of subordinate’s ideas and opinion, use rewards for motivation with occasional punishment and some participation, engage in communication flow both up and down, make broad policy and general decisions at the top while allowing specific decisions to be made at lower levels, and act consultatively in other ways. System 4 management referred to as participative-group, is represented by managers who have complete confidence and trust in subordinates in all matters, always get ideas and give economic rewards on the basis of group participation and involvement, engage in much communication down and up and with peers, encourage decision making throughout the organization, and otherwise operate with themselves and their subordinates as a group. Liker identifies three distinct features of System 4 management. These are:

  • The use of supportive relationships by managers
  • high degree of participation in decision making and supervision;
  • high performance goals.

Likert’s research findings show that managers who applied System 4 management were most successful as leaders, and departments and companies managed by this system were most effective in setting goals and achieving them and were generally more productive.

Importance of Leadership

Importance of leadership can be judged from the following functions which the leadership helps in achieving:

  1. Regarded as a key function of management-

    The significance of leadership can hardly be overemphasized. According to Keith Davis, “Without leadership, an organization would be only a confusion of and machines just as on orchestra without a conductor would be only musicians and instruments. The orchestra and all other organizations require leadership to develop their precious assets to the fullest”.

  2. Translates potentials into realities-

    Great leader Mahatma Gandhi inspired and influenced people of India to wage war for freedom against the Britishers. Similarly, Nelson Mandela also Africa to win freedom for their country.

  3. Provides leadership-

    The need for leadership in a business organization is all the more same rather greater. Management has been defined as the art of getting things done through the efforts of other people. Therefore, a manager’s job is to get things done through other people. He is to induce subordinates to work. He leads, inspires and influences them to work. The motivates them and co-ordinates their efforts to achieve the desired goals. The job of a manager is like that of a leader as managing is leading. In the absence of the manager, the efforts of the group will go haywire and they will hardly be able to achieve their goal just as an orchestra cannot give musical performance without its conductor or a bus cannot be driven without its driver.

  4. Inspires subordinates-

    A good leader is one who is able to inspire his subordinates to apply their full capabilities to a given goal. This is caused by the use of motivators to satisfy the needs of subordinates but inspiration also comes from the leader himself, from his qualities which give rise to loyalty devotion and a strong desire on the part of his followers to promote what he wants.

  5. Motivates employees-

    As indicated above, a leader provides motivation to employees so as to inspire them to work willingly and with zeal and confidence.

  6. Creates confidence-

    Good leadership is helpful in creating confidence in employees by providing them proper guidance, advice and encouragement, and teaching them to recognize their qualities and capabilities to attain group goals.

  7. Builds morale-

    The functions of leadership discussed above have effect of building and maintaining morale of employees. High morale, as we have seen earlier, leads to high productivity.

  8. Represents followers-

    A leader serves as the spokesmen of followers and represents their interest in and outside the organization.

What are the Qualities of a Successful Leader?

In general, a leader should possess the following qualities:

  1. Sound body-

    A leader should have a sound body. It is said that a sound mind lives in a sound body. Thus, a leader with a sound body will also have a sound mind. A leader has to work hard in odd conditions. Therefore, unless he has a sound body he will not be able to lead, inspire and influence his followers.

  2. Intelligence-

    A leader should have a sound mind i.e., he should be intelligent. He should be able to grasp the problem, analyse it and find a solution. This is possible only when he is intelligent.

  3. Self-motivation-

    A leader has to motivate his followers. It is therefore, necessary that he should be self-motivated. In fact it is his urge for self actualizations which activates or motivates him to lead others.

  4. Maturity-

    A leader should be mature enough to understand the problems of the organization and his followers. This will enable him to take rational and balanced judgements. If he is immature, he will take hasty decisions, which will defeat his purpose and may prove counter-productive.

  5. Objectivity-

    A leader should be objective. He should take fair decisions. He is a sort of trustee, trustee of employees, trustee of employer and trustee of society. He should not be bias or prejudice. He must be honest and show high degree of integrity.

  6. Foresightedness-

    A leader should have foresightedness. He has to take long term decisions. He should have a vision and judge the events correctly which have to happen in future so the decisions taken In the past have not to be changed frequently in future.

  7. Self-confidence-

    A leader should have self confidence. He has to convince his followers. If he has no confidence in himself, he can hardly influence his followers.

  8. Responsibility-

    A leader is a responsible person. He owes responsibility to the organization in general and to his followers in particular. He should discharge his duties faithfully. In case he is wrong, he should own his responsibility without any fear.

  9. Receptiveness-

    A leader should be receptive. He does not order or command his followers. He should always be willing to listen to the views of his followers. He should be receptive to new ideas from his followers.

  10. Enthusiasm-

    A leader has to face problems. He can face them bravely if the is enthusiastic.

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