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Comparing & Contrasting Leadership Models or Theories

Comparing Leadership Theories and Models


Leadership can refer both to the process of leading, as well as to those aspects that do the leading. Leadership has been a core, and sometimes controversial, topic in the study of companies and organizations. In spite of claims to the contrary, there is substantial evidence that leadership is positively relevant to variety of individual and organizational outcomes. Leaders, by their very roles, are accountable for making decisions that help their companies and organizations adapt and succeed in competitive environments. Leaders do not merely impose objectives and aims on followers, but work with others to create a shared sense of purpose and direction (Kotter, 1996).

Leadership models and theories primarily work through and with other individuals. They also help to establish the conditions that enable others to be effective. Leadership is a function more than a role. Even if leadership is often invested in - or expected of – individuals in positions of formal authority, leadership encompasses a set of functions that may be performed by any variety of persons in variety of roles throughout a community. Primarily, the main goal of this report is to compare and contrast variety of leadership models and theories considered in diverse organisations.

Comparison and Contrasts: Leadership Models and Theories

Historically, the concept of transformational leadership was introduced by James MacGregor Burns way back 1978 specifically on his treatment of political leadership (Bass 1998, 1990b). Accordingly, this leadership theory was considered and utilize in diverse applications such as corporate management psychology. Bass considered that transformational leadership is an expansion of transactional leadership. Transactional leadership emphasizes the transaction or exchange which takes place among leaders, colleagues, as well as followers (Bass 1998). This exchange is based on the leader discussing with others what is needed and specifying the conditions and rewards these others will obtain if they fulfill those demands. In transformational leadership, strong personal identification of the leader is involved. In addition, the relationship in this leadership model and theory is more than the fulfillment of self-interest or provision of rewards (Hater and Bass 1988). The transformational theory and model consist four dimensions that serves as prime features: Charismatic Leadership (Idealized Influence, CL or IL), Inspirational Motivation (IL), Intellectual Stimulation (IS), and Individualized Consideration (IC) (Bass 1998). These are the components that bring out all potential applications and results of the techniques when considered and utilize.

 Accordingly, transformational leadership model consists of a leader who inspires his or her followers to share a communal vision, promote and encourage individuals to attain and reach the vision, and provides necessary resources for the development of personal potential. A leader who uses this leadership paradigm serves as a role model, supports optimism, musters commitment, and focuses on the followers’ call for eventual growth (Bass and Avolio 2002).

            On the other hand, transactional leadership, the counterpart of the transformational model and theory, is more on controlling individuals and giving out orders. This model and theory has two main categories. One is called the management-by-exception where management and managers tend to make use of their authority to reward or penalize individuals under them. Managers or leaders who use this aspects and factors of transactional leadership tend to focus on asserting power, pointing out errors and disciplining subordinates with poor presentations and functions (Bass 1985). Contingent reward leadership is the other aspects and factors of this leadership model and theory. In this model and theory, the focus is on the communication of work standards and the provision of rewards if these standards are followed. Leaders applying this model and theory ensure that the subordinates know what is expected of them and the consequences should they fail to meet these expectations. Naturally, rewards are given for good presentations and operations while punishments are given for poor presentations and operations (Avolio 1999). In general, the qualities of transformational leadership model and theory are opposite to transactional model and theory of leadership.

Another leadership theory and model is the servant leadership. Servant leadership is among the most popular theory and model that was coined and defined by Robert Greenleaf (Greenleaf 1970). Originally, the attributes of servant leadership was rooted in the history thousand years ago, at least during the time of Jesus. The servant leadership most distinguished feature is the leader’s role as steward of the firms and company's resources from human, finance, and others. It supports leaders to serve others while staying for considered and utilize on achieving results in line with the values and integrity of the firms and companies. Servant leadership possess six components namely valuing individuals, developing individuals, building community, displaying authenticity, providing leadership, and sharing leadership (Laub 1999, p. 83). These elements of servant leadership indicate specific behaviors in terms of applicability.

Consequently, leaders who use the servant theory and model are servants of its followers.  Specific interests of followers are given attention before his/her self. Also, a servant leader centers personal progress and empowerment of supporters as well as facilitates the attainment and achievement of shared vision among individuals (Spears and Lawrence 2002; Laud 1999; Spears 1998; Greenleaf 1977). Today, diverse critics of this leadership paradigm judge it as ‘yet another fad to line consultant’s pockets’ but its proponents justify such argument with the timeless applications and principles considered and utilize by several successful firms and companies (e.g. businesses).

Aside from the three leadership model and theories that has been mentioned above, there are other model and theories that are rooted on diverse political as well as d social principles. These include autocratic/paternalistic (dictatorial), ),  liaises-faire  democratic or participative, aristocratic (monarchy, and/or combination of both. From the viewpoint of systems theory, leadership might be considered as a subsystem of systems administration. It could also be considered as a concept which becomes a part of the conceptual framework of administration theory. Leadership model and theories are definitely an important part of administrative theory.

Conventionally, the dimensions of leadership theory have been two in number, authoritarian and democratic. A third has been called liaises-faire. Authoritarian leadership is that which is associated with the bureaucratic corporate management structure. Authority comes downward from the leader. He initiates decisions. He is the super-ordinate and does not consult with the subordinates. The exact opposite dimension is the liaises-faire, or free-rein, type. This type is one in which the individual member is independent of the group and the leader. He makes his own decisions. He acts outside of the corporate management structure.

The most favored dimension for some administrators is democratic leadership. This type is seen in a participative type of firms and companies. Authority stems from the group. Group members participate in the decision-making process. According to Stogdill (1974), there are numerous types of leadership model and theories which have been implemented in diverse firms and companies. These leadership model and theories includes: "authoritative (dominator)," "persuasive (crowd arouser),"  "intellectual (eminent man)," "executive (administrator)," and "representative (spokesman)," "democratic (group developer),"  The first three model and theories are extreme in nature, the more modern type of leadership model and theory being that of situational leadership contingency management. These model and theories of leadership are most likely applied in the known forms of governments around the world. Thus, discussion further may mislead the concept of leadership this research undertaking is trying to pursue.

The above discussions prove the variety of possible fields in the firms and companies that each technique works. Individual level of significance, although, is defined. But with the presentation of facts and argument, it is safe to claim that the universality of the models is their common denominator. Several literatures probed the issue of universal application (Avolio and Yammarino 2002; Spears and Lawrence 2002; Antonakis and House 2002). Similarly, the call for exceptional standards on ethics is common to both. In this aspect, the leadership strategies, model and theories and model that are successful apply in respective firms and companies are replicated and applied by other firms. In effect, the influence of the leader in global leadership transformation is included in the extensive responsibility they share to the international business setting. As leaders, they make international changes to which broad and multi-cultural entities respond to.


Consequently, leadership models and theories is a multifaceted behavioural accountabilities and roles which are taking place in a self-motivated social context. Variety of leadership models and theories includes the context of using social influence procedures to facilitate, direct, motivate, or inspire the actions of other people or the subordinated (Yukl, 1998). In doing so, being a leader needs constant task-directed effort, efficient task strategies, as well as the artful implementation of variety of technical, conceptual, interpersonal, as well as intrapersonal skills. The main objective of being a leader is to organise common goal attainment by generating and maintaining positive as well as constructive group performance setting.

By and large, it can be considered that that leadership models and theories and leadership traits in organisational settings vary, because not all organisations experiences similar problems as the other. In this regard, that leader who leads a western hospital may not be able to effectively lead a hospital in an eastern culture, since issues and problems faced by these hospitals may be difference.  


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