Leaders are a vital aspect of every business, group, or team. Due to the varied nature of those who are considered leaders, many theories exist which attempt to pinpoint what makes a leader.
The Contingency Theory
This theory of leadership is based on the idea that no single type of leadership is the best. Leadership qualities and abilities should all be taken on a contingency basis. The situation that the group, team or organization finds itself in that is becoming difficult to navigate should determine the type of leadership style best suited to right the issue and recover from the situation. This will ensure that a proper balance is achieved and that all needs, behaviors, and other variables are met in equal measure.
The “Great Man” Theory
This theory of leadership is just as the name suggests – leaders are great men. This theory suggests that leaders are born with the correct behaviors, beliefs, mindsets and skills to lead. This theory does tend to lean more towards a nod to fate or destiny when it comes to determining who will make a great leader. It suggests that people cannot be crafted by experience or forged by failures to become a great leader but rather are born with an undeniable birth rite to become a great leader. A theory such as this definitely lends more weight to nature being the greatest factor in becoming a leader rather than nurture.
Trait theories, in regards to leadership, suggest great leaders possess a certain set of traits. This type of leadership theory relies on heavy assumptions and places a lot of expectations on people who may possess one or more of these leadership traits. As an example, many people consider great leaders to be courageous, opinionated, fair-minded and patient. While these traits can prove to be great assets to anyone attempting to exist in a position of leadership, these traits alone may not denote a single person’s ability and/or willingness to become a leader.
Participative theories are leadership theories that suggest the best way for a leader to act is to take the opinions and input of others into account with regards to decisions. This open type of leadership style encourages discussion and an exchange of ideas and perspectives. Although everyone is free to voice their opinions, the leader is still who makes the final decision.