February 18, 2013

Theories of leadership – classifications

Today I started to work on Leadership & Excellence assignment. To get an overview of the topic I searched different articles and took some books from the library – what a terrible mistake I made! The first article proposed that there are five main classifications of leadership theories, other identified just three, in the third there was no classification at all – just description of theories. After spending half of the day in the library I finally found a book that summed up all previous classifications of theories and presented them in quiet simple, understandable way.

I asked myself: Why don't just keep it simple? Why people try to split theories on styles, methods and frameworks? I was seriously confused by the number of interpretations of theories (Some authors were mixing methods with styles, others – theories with frameworks. The funniest thing about these numerous classifications was that almost everyone were talking about the same things but interpreting them in radically different ways). I was really exhausted and decided to sum up and develop my own classification.

  1. “WHO THEORIES” these were theories that put emphasis on the personal characteristics of individual;
  2. “WHAT THEORIES” identified leader according the results that he or she gave to the company;
  3. “WHERE THEORIES” concentrated on the position that leaders take in the company;
  4. “HOW THEORIES” these were focused mainly on leadership deployment, tools and techniques that leader use.

This classification helped me to group different theories and make it look simplier. However, after I came up with my own classification I understood that sometimes, as it happened with leadership, you cannot simplify study – just because by separate one leadership theory from another – I lost a complete picture of leadership. These theories complement each other and provide overall view of a leader…So, answering my question “Why don’t just keep it simple?” The answer is that leadership, itself, is a very controversial topic and therefore should not be put into frames.  

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