January 16, 2009

Theories in the Mist…

I have been doing research about the leadership theories and the goals I have are two

1) understand more about the leadership theories and approaches the academics have introduced over the years

2) decide which theory/ies approach/es are suitable for Waveriders

Up to this point I have consulted books mainly  Theory and practice of leadership by Gill, R. (2006).. London, Sage, and  Management: concepts & practices by Hannagan T., & Bennet, R. (1998), London, Financial Times/Pitman Pub.

As far as the theories are concerned I believe that it is quite clear that there is a plethora of different models and approaches trying to explain leadership, this issue is probably conected with the difficulty to give leadership a single and unanimously agreed definition.Something we had discussed during the model.

Apart from this it appears that leadership models are a mirror of social economical and cultural circumstances which means that leadership perspectives adapt to the reality they exist in. I think the most credible example of what I am trying to say here, is trait theory since it evolved at a time when "natural" qualities where appreciated. By "natural" I mean characteristics one is born with such as height or even intelligence according to some academics....The point is that external or internal these traits obtained "naturally"are what make a leader according to trait theory -which has been curtsied emphatically

After reading about various other theories such as contigency leadership, emergency leadership and action learning leadership, I have to admit I felt a bit awkward because  I thought there was something missing, in terms on people empowerment or vision or even something else..... The theories just didnt seem enough to cover various elements....

This probably is happening because for OPP PMA I used a  book I had read during my undergraduate degree, by Handy called the "Elephant and the Flea" (2001). Among other things this book suggests that people’s professional aspirations are not the same any more. People are looking for occupations that go beyond simply making ends meet, they want to contribute and make a difference. I was very much influenced by this idea, probably because I feel this way....

Quite similar was the comment by Xerox guru John Seeley, Paul and I included in our CSR presentation during the model: A leader’s obligation is not to make money anymore, but to provide meaning. Anyway what I am trying to get at is that i feel that a leadership theory has to include all these...in order to guide the leader towards intrinsically motivating the employees and indicating  why the goals set are meaningful to the followers and show the way to accomplishment...

And that is when I read about the transformational leadership.... Its emphasis on internal motivation and empowerment, as well as leadership flexibility and morality impressed me. I feel that this leadership theory reflects the demands the employees of today and tomorrow have and will have. However, as Gill mentions in his book, transformational leadership needs to be supported by transactional leadership which being more management focused will provide some sort of reward (e.g. bonus or recognition) and as a result it will more controlling towards the employees, because they will know what is expected from them and try to deliver.

To one extent I understand why this controlling perspective is needed especially in a business like Waveriders which is seeking to improve its position in the market... Although control can have various meanings...-i think-

I will be back when I have a clearer picture about what leadership theory is suitable for Waveriders


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Hey Lila, Good to see you doing well on the PMA :).

    Just something I wanted to say. There are many theories about leadership or other things. It is normal to have so many theories because basically people think differently.

    Sometimes someone comes up with a theory about something while viewing the situation or the case from his point of view. Another one views the case from another point of view, and so on.

    I guess what really is good is to be able to combine more than one theory and use them effectively by taking the advantages and replacing weaknesses by some areas taken from other theories. This would be really helpful ;).

    Of course in the PMA, I am using and mentioning more than one theory, because I liked a few points in more than one theory.

    See you next week Lila!

    18 Jan 2009, 01:46

  2. I have to say Lila that the transformational and transcational theory combined also impressed me, but waht I think is missing that would help a lot waveriders is strategy leadership. What do you think?

    19 Jan 2009, 19:32

  3. Just as ‘control’ have several different meanings, ‘leadership’ also has different meaning to different people. Early literatures in trait, behavior, contingency, situational theories seems to see ‘managing’ as synomonous as ‘leading’. But these days, we understand that there are differences between these two. By focusing on CEO AND one Director also seem to emphasis the different roles which the CEO and director occupies.

    It is true that transactional leadership & transoformational leadership are both importatnt. But what do understand ‘leading’ up until this point? Is it mere exchanging reward for good behavior? Or is it giving people purpose, making them feel capable, and equip them with the right skills to do jobs properly?

    24 Jan 2009, 06:17


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