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Comparison Of Leadership Theories

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Commerce
Wordcount: 1439 words Published: 24th May 2017

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Leadership is the personnel ability which unites power and influence. It means that leadership not only needs power that position given but also needs inner influence that can attract the followers, change their behaviour, inspirit performance and final lead to achieve organizational goals. In the past half century, leadership theory has gone through sots of changes with continue development and improvement of trait theory, behavioral theory, contingency theory and transformational theory(Naylor.J). These four theories have substantial different in definitions; However,there is a progressive relationship that means the performance has increased though developing leadership theory. This essay will compare four leadership theories and take examples to comprehend clearly.

Trait theory

The trait theory in the earlier time was tend to researched some common characteristics or quality of outstanding leaders. The personal trait of the leader is the key factor of decision effectiveness of leadership.In other word, the leadership efficiency depends on the leader’s traits. it has made a standard of leaders’ traits. therefore, an enterprise ‘s effort could go toward this standard when cultivate

leaders.Afterward,the employees will get reasonable development and the enterprise would gain benefit as well.However,as the trait theory ignore the subordinates’ needs, did not specify the relative importance between all kinds of characteristics , lacking of the distinction between cause and effect,and ignoring the situation factors, causes failure in explaining the leadership behavior.

Example of Trait theory

As a manager of a enterprise,Steve Jobs leads apple team beginning with only1300$ of Working capital to a development of Market value with 762 million dollars by the year of 2011.And from a family workshop with two people developed to nearly 50000 employees in the global.The success of Jobs is closely linked with his personal traits.In 1997,when he Became a chief executive of apple company,he made a vital decision which turn the crisis situation that he decrease the types of products from 350types to only 10types. Focus on research and development of 10 types product elaborately ,the company profit increased with high quality of productions.The leadership trait of assertiveness and decisiveness are fully presented though this example,and his intelligence, controlling with crisis can not be ignored as well.

2. Behavioural theory

Behavioral theory emphasize the behavior of treating subordinates, it focus on concerning of people and production as well as the angle of superiors’ control and subordinates’ participation. Based preference of concern, it concludes tree main types of leadership which are Autocratic,Democratic and Laissez-faine.(Naylor.J)Contrast with trait theory, behavioral theory marks the leadership’ transformation that from single study for leaders’ characters tend to a wider range of leadership research.However,compare with contingency theory,behavioral theory seems less concern about the needs of situation, the influence of culture and the expectations of subordinators which are its shortage of leadership.

Example of Behavioural theory

A typical example of Autocratic leadership is STRONG company which is currently the world’s largest sales enterprise of jelly, pudding ,seaweed and other recreational kind of food.it has strict production chain,and concern more about production than staffs.In the workshop, the staffs just need to follow the strict standard during their work, its target is to product high quality and High output of food. Contrast to Autocratic leadership, the Democratic leadership is more friendly, an example is McDonald.Today the McDonald not only is a food industry but also a service industry,leaders need to communicate with staffs to meet their demands then they would work with enthusiasm and satisfaction, thus,gain better profit to company,staffs get more reward as well.

3.Contingency theory

As the insufficient study of Trait theory and Behavioral theory , they have a common defect that ignoring the situational factors leads to disrupt in theory and practicality.Therefore,Contingency theory scholars in the study of the leadership taken situational factors into consideration. It though the interaction of personal leader’s traits, behavior and work environment to explain the phenomenon of leadership.Contingency theory has the following three researches which are typical :1)Fiedler’s contingency theory 2)Vroom and Yetton contingency theory,3)Path–goal theory(Naylor.J). To a great extent, it closes the distance between leadership theory and the actual of leadership as well as meet the actual executive’s needs to leadership theory. While,there also are sots of situation need to take into the concern ,for example, the ability of leaders influence the subordinates and the role leaders play expected by subordinates.

Example of contingency theory

Leaders need to analysis situation elements of the different conditions and adopt different leadership to motivate subordinates, then realize effective management. For example,In the military,leaders have higher power , strict sense of discipline and high morale.The effective leadership is layer upon layer decree to make subordinate clearly of mission objectives. However, in a cooperative type of organization,using the way of commanding tasks would not work.Another example is Foxconn which is a high and new technology enterprise .Based on large scale of enterprise and hundreds of thousands of workers,it dose not have good interpersonal relations between subordinates and it have to put clearly task structure to different levels in the company, also need strong position power to lead such large number of workers. Due to these factors ,Foxconn have a military method and the task-orientated leader would be suitable to lead its workers.

4.Transformational leadership

Transformational leadership theory links the role of leader and subordinates, it tries to improve both power and the moral level among leader and subordinates as well. Leaders who own transformational leadership though their behavior model like charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation and concern about subordinates to optimize members interaction of organization, then achieve their target and expectations. Therefore, transformational theory emphasize that leaders concern about individual demand levels and inspire work motivation of members to make maximum benefit. Since this theory attaches great importance to the “human” factor of management,however, human is a complex research object that means there are a lot of things worth our further to study.

Example of Transformational leadership

Transforming the role of leader and subordinates is a characteristic of transformational leadership that means leaders fully know their subordinates demands also though inspiration to obtain high expectation. McDonald’s is one of the biggest and the most famous fast food groups 。its success is closely linked with perfect human resource management, before managers choosing inspiring method, leadership style, they set up the humanist management idea and fully understand the difference between the employees’ demands to give full play to the initiative ,enthusiasm and creativity.Afterwards,subordinates would feel individual consideration and satisfaction with their works.eventually,McDonald would gain the benefit though its leadership.


Based on above all analysis and comparison of leadership theory, it is clearly that leadership theory has been boosted a lot from the tait theory to the latest transformational theory with the development in the past half centaury. From Trait theory which just focus on researching leaders’ characteristics, turn to behavioral theory which tend to concern the influence of leaders’ behavior to their subordinates,while the contingency theory take the factor of different situations into leadership research that fill the gap of trait theory and behavioral theory,However, transformational theory is more comprehensive and flexible than other three theories.However, refer to changeful situations, leaders should choose appropriate theory to manage their subordinates. Moreover, the research of leadership is not stop, to be more systematic is the research direction in the future.


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