March 26, 2014

General, Grand and Unified Theory for Leadership

When preparing for leadership PMA, I read some books in order to find general, grand and unified theory for leadership. There are many matrics and perspectives to categorize leadership theories according to different scholars by their different bias and perspectives, the most coomom theory is Mark Walker's perspective, leadership theory includes ''Great man'' or trait-based leadership theory, Behavioral leadership theory, Contingency leadership theory, Cognitive leadership theory, Moral leadership theory, and Strategic/Transsactional leadership theory. This leadership evolved from leader-centered to leader-follower relationship which just like the modern society development for politics and business, when the internal and external environment becomes more complicated, it's highly unlikely to listen to one person to reach organizational goal without trying to motivating followers to exceed the expectation and get higher performance.

Unfortunately, after reading 20 pages, the answer is NO such theory since the scope of leadership is too big, perhaps Niels Bohr's worsd describe this situation the best: ''Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true''.

I think it's so difficult to come up with one generial, grand and unified theory for leadership is because there is barely 1 discipline like leadership involving wide variety from communication, coaching, motivating, psychology, culture, gender, ethics...etc, fom the trait and skills of leaders themselves to the relation between leaders and followes, it's not surprising that there is no ONE universal answer to this query, what I am sure about is to find one or more leaddership theories to fit the situation we faced.


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  1. Fidan Sadikhli

    I agree with you, Jennifer. I also think, and sure that many will confirm, that one theory only is not enough for becoming successful as a leader. There are a lot of reasons, for example different followers. So they need different approach. Moreover, only by integrating different leadership theories it is possible to become flexible, because, I think you will agree that leaders face various situations, and “one size fits all” have never worked. I also believe that we as leaders should first of all be aware of different leadership approaches and pick the most suitable combination of it.

    However, I don’t believe that we all will behave in the same way applying the same theories. Surely, the particular theory will be modified and personalized, because we all never do the same things in the exactly same way. By doing so we adapt the theory adding new elements according to the company and its values :)

    26 Mar 2014, 19:29


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