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Critical Analysis of Leadership Theories and Assessing Links

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 4900 words Published: 2nd Jan 2018

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An organization is comprised of a large set of individuals, working together to attain a specified common goal. The concrete organisational framework is based upon specified values and positive culture escorted by charismatic leaders that are required to comprehend their roles and responsibilities towards both the employees and the organisation. A positive work environment is comprised of intellectual and enigmatic leaders that believe in empowering employees and appreciate their active participation in the progression of the company (Balain, and Sparrow 2009, p. 227). The concept of leadership is generated to monitor the behavioural patterns of employees including and motivate them to enhance their loyalty towards the organisation. The behavioural patterns of employees greatly vary depending upon their individual circumstances and therefore, it is extremely crucial for the leaders to develop an empathetic approach towards resolving the issues of employees and to inspire them for effective contribution to achieve the organisational objectives. It is the responsibility of the organisational leaders to develop challenging but achievable goals and boost the team spirit amongst the employees to achieve maximum organisational productivity (Knight, Durham and Locke 2001, p. 329). There could be diverse range of motivational factors that might influence an individual’s conviction and the effective leaders have the ability to single out those factors to persuade the employees to enhance organisational growth and maximise its productivity (Choi 2006, p. 26). This paper is intended to analyse the role of leadership and employee motivation in long term organisational success by critical evaluation of the theoretical underpinnings of the subject. The idea is to reflect the behavioural patterns of both the leaders and employees by recognizing the need for employee motivation and understanding the role of leaders to optimistically incite the employees in the best interest of the organisation (Knight, Durham and Locke 2001, p. 335). The main objective of this paper is to explicate the functional features of an organisation in which the role of leadership becomes extremely significant in order to develop smart employee motivational strategies to ensure their satisfaction and thereby, producing constructive employee’s attitudes to preserve long term organisational success.

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Routine official work environment has several challenges and issues which are required to be sorted with sheer intelligence and determination. Organisational structure is extremely complex including diverse nature of employees and therefore, the role of leader becomes extremely significant to maintain a positive and constructive workplace (Hamlin 2002). The most integral aspect of a leader’s personality is the understanding towards responsibilities and willingness to combat with difficulties and challenges. Not all managers can become effective leaders (Knight, Durham and Locke 2001, p. 335) as the complex organisational structure and diversity of employees makes it difficult to realize the dynamics of key motivating factors that facilitate in enhanced organisational productivity. The globalised work environment of today is comprised of organisations having employees coming from different backgrounds, speaking diversified languages and competent in varying range of skills and therefore, leaders today, are not just required to focus on task accomplishment but must also address the employee’s expectations by engaging them as effectively contributing member of the organisation. Employees look upon their organisational leaders as a coach who enables them to understand and perform their task in correct manner (Hamlin 2002). Employees expect their leaders to effectively communicate and direct them to prevail over the work-related issues and obstacles by motivational skills. The concept of leadership is based upon the combination of personality, ideologies, intellect, motivation and trust (Balain, and Sparrow 2009, p. 228). Organisations endeavour fiscal growth and productivity which can be achieved by progressive employees followed by a charismatic leader. It is significant for the organisational leaders to recruit maximum number of followers and for that, leaders through their personal charm, ideologies and intellect gain trust of employees and motivate them to accomplish organisational goals (Kaplan and Norton 2004, p. 37). Long term organisational success is highly dependent upon leadership and employee motivation. It has been studied that, in order to achieve long-term organisational success, leaders are required to gain trust of employees and motivate them (Baldoni, 2005, p. 175). The distinct qualities encompassing excellence in performance and management skills ascertain the organisational leaders. The ability to envision, empathise, and empower are the three core components that determine the charismatic attribute of a leader. Envisioning behaviour of a leader influences other organisational members by stimulating a need to accomplish and the empathic behaviour facilitate the followers to gel with their leader based on ideological affiliations (Choi, 2006, p. 41).


Leaders are the symbol of ideologies that are followed by others and organisations acquire tremendous growth and success by integrating charismatic leadership within their work environment. Interaction of leaders with the followers tends to develop a positive and highly motivated work environment which eventually results in the organisational success (Pratti et al, 2003, p. 27). The six most integral leadership theories have been critically analysed to understand the reasons behind advanced performance levels which enhances the economic and organisational strength.

Great Man Theory

The theoretical model of Great Man theory was based on a belief that the leadership is confine only to the aristocratic people that are destined to escort the rest. Formerly the people belonging to upper-class were treated differently and were looked upon by others due to specific qualities they posses or the exceptional standard of living they enjoyed. It was believed that only a limited number of people were uniquely gifted with certain abilities and traits that made it possible for them to become leaders and the rest are meant to follow them (Pratti et al, 2003, p. 32). The most critical element of the Great Man theory was the blind conviction in the leadership of aristocratic people and firmly believing that the traits of leadership can never be inherited, developed, learnt, or acquired (Baldoni, 2005, p. 179), which limited the scope of leadership. The term ‘Great Man’ itself has a limited scope as the theoretical model is primarily male, military and west oriented. While analysing the phenomenon of intrinsic supremacy of the Great Man theory, it is indeed true that there are certain men possessing some congenital power to influence over their contemporaries, substantiating their right to leadership however, the concept of limiting the headship to a group of aristocratic is inequitable (Choi 2006, p. 42). If the Great Man model is applied to the contemporary organisational structure, it might produce unconstructive outcomes as the diversification of employee’s background, languages, skills and individual circumstance has given rise to a much perplexed work environment where aristocratic aspect of Great Man theory would develop pessimism amongst employees. The globalised nature of work environment has developed a breed of employees that are much more aware, educated, skilful and competent (Hamlin 2002). Employees today do not necessarily be content with handsome remuneration package instead they look forward to professional growth and enhanced opportunities. The Great Man theoretical model does not address the prospects and expectations of existing organisational workforce as it is confined to offer leadership opportunities to aristocratic group of people only. Followed by the Great Man theoretical model which advocates the innate superiority, the exceptional traits, qualities and attributes of the leaders were explored and as a result of which Trait Theory was developed.

Trait Theories

The Trait Theories were developed with a purpose of determining the core characteristics of leaders that contributed towards organisational success. The theory was put forward with intent to facilitate the organisations in the identification of key traits, qualities and attributes of leaders so that the correct set of people can be recruited and installed into leadership positions of the organisation. There are a number of leadership traits identified by several studies including adaptability, decisiveness, cooperation, dependability, assertiveness, determination, self confidence (Wheatley 2001, p. 92) however, it has been observed that there is no quantifiable means to identify leadership characteristics and there are no consistent set of qualities that might support the concept of a true leader (Baldoni, 2005, p. 212). Human beings have numerous positive and negative traits that are responsible in shaping up the overall personality of an individual. All leaders posses the universal quality to influence others however, the set of fundamental traits that enables them to dominate over their contemporaries might considerably differ (Pratti et al, 2003, p. 37). It has been studied that the generic qualities of a leader such as charismatic personality, sociability and intelligence are not limited to themselves only instead the most commonly held traits of leaders can also be shared by diverse group of people which do not necessarily become leaders. On the other hand, generic traits of the leaders might be similar however, the absence of some of these generic traits do not make them any less leader. There has been somewhat consistency in the generic traits of leaders that may include administrative skills, decisiveness, responsiveness and astuteness which enables them to ensure enhanced organisational productivity. It has been argued that there is the probability of prominent leaders being gifted by few common traits nevertheless; it is nearly impracticable that all leaders pose a collective set of characteristics (Pratti et al, 2003, p. 39) and hence, the Trait Theory failed to sustain its momentum. It is significant to note that, neither the authoritative traits corroborate the position of a leader and nor the position of leadership can be acquired by the identified authoritative characteristics (Gosling and Mintzberg 2003).

Behavioural Theories

The contradictory nature of the Trait Theories, lead the researchers to focus on the behavioural aspect of organisational leaders and as a result of which the Behavioural Theories were formulated that are primarily based on studying the varying leadership styles. The McGregor’s X & Y Managers Theory has been widely publicised stating that the leader’s assumptions about human nature greatly influences the overall organisational leadership stratagem. In accordance with McGregor’s theoretical model, the theory X managers deem that there is an intrinsic aversion amongst human beings towards obligations and responsibilities which circumvents their desire to work unless persuaded. Theory X managers are required to consistently direct and control their workforce to achieve organisational objectives. On the other hand, theory Y managers believe that correct work atmosphere combined with employee’s commitment facilitates people in exercising self-direction and self-control that ultimately aid in accomplishing the pre-set organisational goals. By analysing the McGregor’s theoretical model, it can be observed that the theory X mangers support the domineering style whereas; theory Y managers support a participative approach of leadership. The domineering leaders have strict control over their employees characterised by their decisiveness conversely, the participative leaders are much more considerate and are found to behave sympathetically towards the employees and thereby, develop a sense of affiliation and trust (Pratti et al, 2003, p. 40). While contrasting both the leadership behaviours it can be constituted that the autocratic leaders are strict but disciplined which results in obtaining better results in terms of enhanced fiscal growth conversely, the participative leaders are the preferred choice of the employees but the performance margin is considerably reduced due to their considerate behaviour. The Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid is another behavioural theory focuses on organisational production and employee orientations by analysing the combinations of concerns between the two extremes. Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid measures the leader’s concerns for production on horizontal and concerns for people on the vertical axis by identifying the five key leadership styles. By analysing the Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid, it has been observed that the most crucial aspect of leadership behaviour is to value the collaborative approach and teamwork that eventually results in long-term organisational success.

Situational & Contingency Theories

Depending upon the consistently evolving work environment and inconsistent circumstances, it can be constituted that the leadership styles has to be considerably flexible and adaptive in order to address the underlying organisational issues. After identifying the behavioural aspects of leadership it was inevitable to apply them in varying situations to assess their practicability. Fiedler’s Contingency Model was put forward with intent to address workplace issues that are highly reliant upon the impinged situational factors explicating that mechanistic organisational environment may progress well with autocratic leadership style whereas a participative approach is suited to a dynamic work environment having a flexible approach (Heslin, VandeWalle, Latham 2006, p. 882). Fiedler Contingency Model categorised managers in two distinct groups i.e. task and relationship oriented and environment as favourable or unfavourable. This model enables the leaders to manipulate the environmental variables to match their leadership styles. In accordance with the contingency model the relationship and power positioning of a leader with its team members greatly influences the task structure (Baum and Locke 2004, p. 587) and it has been observed that the favourable work environment characterised by constructive leader-member relationship tends to yield a high task structure where a leader has the power to appreciate or penalize its employees with absolute authority and vice versa. Both the task motivated and relationship motivated leadership styles comes with their relative set of pros and cons as the task-motivated leaders can gain fiscal growth by outperforming the key competitors (Kaplan and Norton 2004, p. 42) whereas, the relationship motivated leaders gain customer satisfaction which establishes the positive image of the organisation which fairly contributes in attaining long-term organisational success. The theoretical grounds of Hersey-Blanchard Model of Leadership are based on assessing the developmental capacity of employees which tends to determine the suitability of a leadership style in a specific situation. The theory is based on the combination of task behaviour and relationship behaviour of a leader depending upon the maturity of its subordinates within a workplace setting. With respect to the situational variables of subordinate’s maturity levels, the leadership style have been categorised into four kinds out of which two major leadership styles including directive behaviour and supportive behaviours are deemed as the most significant (Perren and Burgoyne 2001). In directive behaviour category the leaders adopt a one-way communication strategy where leaders decide, communicate, direct and closely monitor the performance of the subordinates to achieve the core organisational objectives (Balain, and Sparrow 2009, p. 229). On the other hand, the supportive behaviour of a leader is two-way communication process in which leaders adopt a flexible approach by engaging the subordinates in the decision making process, listen to their views, offer support and encourage their contributions in task performance. The most significant aspect of Hersey-Blanchard Model is that, it provides a multi-purpose approach by allowing the leaders to assess the maturity level of their subordinates and thereby, adjust their behaviours accordingly. The theory emphasises on enhancing the maturity level of subordinates by effective coaching techniques, increased support and motivational schemes so that the burden on leadership can be fine-tuned as per the developmental capacity of the employees which not only benefits the leaders but is equally favourable to the organisation in longer run. The Tannenbaum & Schmidt’s Continuum model is an extension of contingency theories suggesting that there are four main leadership behaviours varies along a continuum including autocratic or telling style, persuasive or selling style, consultative or consulting style and democratic or joining style. The continuum model has distinguished the leadership styles and applied them to specified situations as for example telling style is most suited to mature team in an emergency situation, the selling style is applicable to an aggressive work setting where leader is decisive however the enthusiastic participation of the subordinates is equally valued. The consulting and joining leadership is complimentary to somewhat similar situation where collective decision making by both the leaders and subordinates result in enhanced productivity of the organisation (Heslin, VandeWalle, Latham 2006, p. 886). Another significant situational or contingency model is the Adair’s Action-Centred leadership which is characterised by a three circle diagram. The situational and contingent elements determine the responsiveness of leader to address the organisational issues and achieve the desired goals.

Leaders and Followers

Previously the concept of leadership was confined to idealise the solo frontal figures that contributes in achieving organisational objectives. The theories of Leaders and Followers are intended to highlight the interdependency of leaders and their subordinates and reflect the significance of collaborative work environment. The theory of Servant Leadership determines the individual perception to serve first and then lead by encouraging teamwork, prescience and trust within the organisational structure by empowering all and treating them with fairness. Team Leadership is another theoretical approach that is put forward by Meredith Belbin emphasising on the balanced team efforts by proposing a network of individuals working together for a common organisational goal having both individual strengths and weaknesses. Team work is most suited to the complex structure of globalised work environment as the leaders are less interfering and believe in engaging their subordinates as actively participating members of the organisation (Goleman, McKee and Boyatzis 2002, p. 22). The volatile organisational structure of today requires concerted working relationships due to its diverse nature and the leadership style that promotes employees development offers a holistic approach where problem solving and decisiveness of a leader is complimented and supported by the entire team. In addition to this, James MacGregor Burns came up with the Transactional and Transformational Leadership Model which is which enables to develop an understanding of monetary and ethical needs of organisation followed by a leader. The transactional leadership is based on business perspective by relying on short term fiscal benefits to maximise organisational efficiency. The transactional leadership focuses on tactical issues and is hard data orientation by supporting the entrenched structure and systems and is predominantly occupied by power, politics and perks (Baum and Locke 2004, p. 589). On the other hand, the foundation of transformational leadership is has high moral and ethical grounds based on pre-defined purposes. The significance of transformational leadership is the diffusion of duties and responsibilities amongst the team to acquire meaningful and challenging job roles for the subordinates in order to develop a sense of self-worth by acknowledging the human potential (Drach-Zahavy and Erez 2002, p. 668). Transformational leaders work towards acquiring long-term organisational success by prudently aligning the internal structure and systems without comprising the core values and principles.

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Dispersed Leadership

It is an informal leadership style that is significantly dissociated with the organisational hierarchal model. The Dispersed Leadership model is the most contemporary theoretical model which encourages the all individuals within an organisation to contribute their leadership skills without any limitations of hierarchy and positively influence their colleagues to maximise organisational productivity. It has been studied that, by developing ‘leaderful’ culture and work environment by the help of synchronized, cooperative and empathetic leadership model (Raelin 2003, p. 62), the organisations can become more progressive as the responsibility and commitment of a leader can be extensively entrenched throughout the entire organisation without the limitations imposed by formal chain of commands. The relationship and social behaviour of an individual determines its leadership qualities and the intrinsic characteristics and traits of a leader have the power to influence other by producing followers (James and Burgoyne 2001). Hence, the phenomenon of dispersed leadership i.e. encouraging the development of leaders amongst the small groups of same ideologies may also benefit the organisation by the prelude of a modern work environment having shared set of responsibilities.


Leaders are expected to generate enthusiasm within their subordinates to maximise their efficiencies and are far-sighted to develop effectual strategies to overcome the obstacles that may hinder in smooth progression of the organisation. The most highly equipped organisational leaders utilise useful tools of communication, problem solving, people management, decision making and motivation to develop a strong bond with their team members and gain their trust to extort utmost output of their organisational performances (James and Burgoyne 2001). Suited to the diverse range of situations and contexts, the organisations put forward effective leadership styles in order to develop affiliations with their employees by exhibiting incredible drive and enthusiasm in order to achieve the desired goals. To acquire the desired results by the enhanced efficiency of their subordinates, leaders are required to stimulate them with the help of numerous motivational tools including incentives, growth opportunities and rewards (Rodgers, Frearson, Holden and Gold 2003). Leadership theories combined with correct motivational strategies tends to deliver enhanced organisational productivity. Leaders are therefore anticipated to understand the human psychology as the organisational performances are greatly influenced by the psychosocial objectives of an individual (Heslin, VandeWalle, Latham 2006, p. 882). It is extremely significant to acknowledge the substance of human needs while developing organisational objectives as the labour force of the organisation is predominantly humans that are engaged in specific job roles to fulfil their basic needs. Apart from monetary benefits, an individual may also have varying psycho-social needs that develops an individual personality based on a personal belief system (Raelin 2003, p. 65). An organisation can successfully develop a high-performing workforce by addressing the psycho-social needs of its employees through monetary and symbolic rewards that tends to enhance a sense of self-worth and thereby contribute in acquiring the desired organisational goals (Renn 2003, p. 572). Considering the primary human needs and psychosocial necessitates, smart leaders develop effectual strategies to motivate their subordinates by unswervingly stimulating the correct individual motives (Wegge and Haslam 2005, p. 404). The employees of today have tremendously grown in terms of educational qualifications and thrive on knowledge based work environments where they expect to receive the due respect to their ideologies and acknowledgement of their contributions and efforts benefiting the organisation. Leaders are the primary and the most vital connecting point of the workforce with the organisation that enables the workforce to express their views with complete freedom and recognise their organisational contributions Goleman, McKee and Boyatzis 2002, p. 22). The previous methods of managing subordinates through leaders have been replaced by the contemporary techniques of employing personnel-centric strategies within the organisation in order to exceedingly motivate employees to gain competitive advantage in the market. Managers are required to motivate the employees and attain their utmost loyalty and devotion by inspiring them through effective leadership styles.

The democratic nature of contemporary organisation supports the idea of empowering their employees and the leaders are now anticipated to produce their followers by adopting a flexible approach and widely accepted leadership style. Today, the products and services offered by the organisations are not the only means to compete in the market but the power of an organisation to retain a highly competitive, loyal and productive workforce determine their market supremacy (Drach-Zahavy and Erez 2002, p. 669). The linkage between true leadership and motivational strategies has been greatly emphasised by the organisations and it has been observed that leaders with their motivational stratagem play an integral role in maximising organisational productivity. The autocratic leadership styles followed by strictly hierarchal organisational structures have been subsided in the contemporary globalised work environment where employees prefer a democratic leadership that is meant to respect their psycho-social objectives and is fair towards acknowledging their individual contributions in the overall organisational success. It has been identified that the contemporary workforce appreciates leaders that are persuasive and not coercive. Employees have now become more inclined towards professional pragmatism and challenging job roles rather than restricting their growth opportunities to short-term benefits like status and position (Goleman, McKee and Boyatzis 2002, p. 39). Therefore, organisations have also recognised the strong bond between effective leadership and motivational strategies and have put forward their enigmatic leaders that are willing to acclimatize their leadership skills in order to address the psycho-social needs of today’s workforce. The long-term organisational success is highly reliant upon its progressive and devoted workforce (Hamlin 2002) that can be achieved by integrating the right set of motivational strategies through the most appropriate leadership styles. Organisations prudently choose the appropriate leaders that have sufficient proclivity of analysing the core psycho-social needs of the employees and correct knowledge about the organisational environment (Wegge and Haslam 2005, p. 401). The intensity of leader’s receptiveness to appropriately retort towards the consistently evolving situations together with their ability to address the unprecedented expectations of employees, ascertains the long-term organisational success.


People’s attitudes towards their employment have been considerably altered due to a shift from manual to knowledge based work environment in the contemporary globalised organisational structure. The fast-paced work environment combined with highly responsive employee’s behaviour has enhanced living standards and employee’s expectations and therefore, effectual and integrated leadership has become indispensible to motivate the organisational workforce of today. Depending upon varying situations, organisations position their best leaders that are required to motivate their subordinates through the most suitable leadership techniques in order to preserve the loyalty and commitment of the employees towards achieving maximum organisational productivity. To conclude, there is a strong relationship between effective leadership and employee motivational strategies that not only generate fiscal benefits by enhanced organisational productivity but also contribute in accomplishing long-term organisational success.


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