Leadership,  Characteristics,  functions,  Traits/Qualities of Good Leaderdhip,  Styles of Leadership, Approaches to leadership(Trait Approaches to leadership,Behavioral Approaches to leadership, The Ohio State Studies, The Managerial Grid, Situational Approaches to leadership ,Fiedler Model.


Leadership is the ability to influence the behavior and performance of an individual or group of individuals towards the achievement of common objectives.It is a psychological process of influencing subordinates and providing guidance to them.

Characteristics of Leadership:

  1. Empathy: Creating a legitimate rapport with your staff makes it less likely that personal issues and resentment can creep in and derail the group. When your team knows that you are empathetic to their concerns, they will be more likely to work with you and share in your vision, rather than foster negative feelings.
  2. Consistency: Being a consistent leader will gain you respect and credibility, which is essential to getting buy-in from the group. By setting an example of fairness and credibility, the team will want to act the same way.
  3. Honesty: Another characteristic of leadership that lends itself to credibility. Those who are honest, especially about concerns, make it far more likely that obstacles will be addressed rather than avoided. Honesty also allows for better assessment and growth.
  4. Direction: Having the vision to break out of the norm and aim for great things -then the wherewithal to set the steps necessary to get there– is an essential characteristic of good leadership. By seeing what can be and managing the goals on how to get there, a good leader can create impressive change.
  5. Communication: Effective communication helps keep he team working on the right projects with the right attitude. If you communicate effectively about expectations, issues and advice, your staff will be more likely to react and meet your goals.
  6. Flexibility: Not every problem demands the same solution. By being flexible to new ideas and open-minded enough to consider them, you increase the likelihood that you will find the best possible answer. You will set a good example for your team and reward good ideas.
  7. Conviction: A strong vision and the willingness to see it through is one of the most important characterizes of leadership. The leader who believes in the mission and works toward it will be an inspiration and a resource to their followers.
  8. Inspiration: Quite often, employees need someone to look up to for direction, guidance, and motivation. The entrepreneur needs to be that person. Hopefully, Human Resources has hired self-motivated individuals. Nevertheless, there are times, when many employees need the boss to inspire them by word or action. Employees need someone to look up to, admire, and follow. Even when the production or delivery of services looks like “it is all going well,” the leader may at times need to step in personally to offer a suggestion or encouragement to ensure that employees perform their jobs in an optimal manner.
  9. Ambition: Resting on your laurels is bad for employee morale and entrepreneurial credibility. Employees need to be constantly striving for improvement and success; and they need to see the same and more in their leaders. When the boss is seen as someone who works to attain increasingly higher goals, employees will be impressed and more willing to mirror that behavior. It’s a win-win for everyone.
  10. Interpersonal skills: Successful entrepreneurs are comfortable relating to other people; they easily create rapport and are at least more extroverted than they are introverted. These factors help leaders seem approachable, likeable, and comfortable in their position. Those qualities contribute to staff wanting to interact with their leader. They also help motivate employees to do a better job. When workers can relate to their boss, they believe that their boss is more concerned about them, with their performance, and with their output. Furthermore, they believe that they can go to their boss with problems they encounter on the job without fearing consequences for not knowing how to resolve issues.Not all entrepreneurs are adept at interpersonal skills. Those that aren’t, might find it helpful to take a course, choose a mentor or locate a therapist to help them build interpersonal skills. The intangible cost is too high to not improve these abilities. In addition, here’s where a strong team comes into play. The less experienced leader who is still learning these skills can rely on the team to get out and to “press the flesh,” interact with employees, and spread a positive attitude to help develop morale.
  11. A “can do, get it done” attitude: Nothing builds a picture of success more than achievement, and achievement is the number one factor that motivates just about everyone across all cultures. When employees see that their boss can lead and direct, has a clear vision and attainable goals, and actually gains results in a timely manner, then that person’s credibility increases throughout the organization. Entrepreneurs must modestly demonstrate their skills to give their constituents valid reasons to appreciate and value their efforts.

Functions of Leadership:

  1.  To act as a representative of the work-group: Leader is the link between the top management and the work group. He has to communicate the problems and difficulties of the work group to the management and the expectation of the management to the work group. He act as a link between the top management and the work group.
  2.  To develop team spirit: One of the core function of the Leader manager is that to create a team spirit in between the members of the group. They should act as a team rather than performing as individuals. It is his responsibility to create a pleasant atmosphere keeping in view the subordinates needs, potential abilities and competence.
  3.  To act as a counselor of the people at work: When the subordinates face problems at work, which may be technical or emotional, the leader has to guide and advise the subordinate concerned. There may be situation which are out of control, in that situation, leader must stand behind the subordinate to encourage and support and find a solution for the problem.
  4. Proper use of Power: Leader must be careful while exercising his power or authority in relation to his subordinates. According to the situation he may exercise different types of powers like reward power, corrective power, coercive power, expert power, formal or informal power etc., for the positive response from his subordinate. Make sure that while using the power the response from his subordinate should not yield a negative response to the group work. Leader must analyze the situation before exercising his power.
  5. Time Management: Leader must ensure the timely completion of the work while ensuring the quality and efficiency of the work. At different stages, the work should be complete according to the plan. The timely completion of the individual tasks will ensure the completion of the group work. Leader should monitor and ensure the individual task at different stages are accomplished as per the plan.
  6. Secure effectiveness of group-effort: To get the maximum contribution towards the achievement of objectives the leader must delegate authority, ensure the availability of the adequate resources, provide for a reward system to improve the efficiency of capable workmen, invite participation of employees in decision making and communicate necessary information to the employees.

Styles of Leadership:

The total pattern of leaders’ actions as perceived by their employees is called leadership style. It represents the leaders’ philosophy, skills and attitudes in practice.

It is necessary to study the different leadership styles from which an appropriate style can be selected, depending upon the situation in which leadership is to be exercised and the nature of the followers involved.

1. Autocratic or Authoritarian leadership: An autocratic leader centralizes power and decision-making in himself. He gives orders, assigns tasks and duties without consulting the employees. The leader takes full authority and assumes full responsibility.Autocratic leadership is negative, based on threats and punishment. Subordinates act as he directs. He neither cares for their opinions nor permits them to influence the decision. He believes that because of his authority he alone can decide what is best in a given situation.Autocratic leadership is based upon close supervision, clear-cut direction and commanding order of the superior. It facilitates quick decisions, prompt action and unity of direction. It depends on a lesser degree of delegation. But too much use of authority might result in strikes and industrial disputes. It is likely to produce frustration and retard the growth of the capacity of employees.The employees work as hard as is necessary to avoid punishment. They will thus produce the minimum which will escape punishment.

This leadership style is less likely to be effective because (i) the new generation is more independent and less submissive and not amenable to rigid control; (ii) people look for ego satisfactions from their jobs and (iii) revolution of rising expectations changed the attitude of the people.

Autocratic leadership may be divided into three classes:

  •  The hard-boiled autocrat who relies mainly on negative influences uses the force of fear and punishment in directing his subordinates towards the organisational goals. This is likely to result in employees becoming resentful.
  • The benevolent autocrat who relies mainly on positive influences uses the reward and incentives in directing his subordinates towards the organisational goals. By using praise and pats on the back he secures the loyalty of subordinates who accept his decisions.
  • The manipulative autocrat who makes the employees feels that they are participating in decision-making though the manager himself has taken the decision. McGregor labels this style as Theory X.

2. Democratic or Participative leadership: Participative or democratic leaders decentralise authority. It is characterised by consultation with the subordinates and their participation in the formulation of plans and policies. He encourages participation in decision-making.He leads the subordinates mainly through persuasion and example rather than fear and force. Sometimes the leader serves as a moderator of the ideas and suggestions from his group. McGregor labels this style as Theory Y.Taylor’s scientific management was based on the inability of the ordinary employees to make effective decisions about their work. Hence the decision-making power was vested with the management. But recent studies indicate the need for participation by subordinates. The modern trend favours sharing the responsibility with the employees.This will foster enthusiasm in them. The employees feel that management is interested in them as well as in their ideas and suggestions. They will, therefore, place their suggestions for improvement.

Advantages for democratic leadership are as follows: (i) higher motivation and improved morale; (ii) increased co-operation with the management; (iii) improved job performance; (iv) reduction of grievances and (v) reduction of absenteeism and employee turnover.

3. The Laissez-faire or Free-rein leadership: Free-rein leaders avoid power and responsibility. The laissez-faire or non-interfering type of leader passes on the responsibility for decision-making to his subordinates and takes a minimum of initiative in administration. He gives no direction and allows the group to establish its own goals and work out its own problems.The leader plays only a minor role. His idea is that each member of the group when left to himself will put forth his best effort and the maximum results can be achieved in this way. The leader acts as an umpire. But as no direction or control is exercised over the people, the organisation is likely to flounder.

An experiment conducted among Boy Scout Clubs of the USA in 1940 shows autocratic leadership is likely to rouse antagonism in the group and produce hostility towards the leader. In democratic groups, the absence of the leader made little difference, while in autocratic groups productive work dropped to a minimum, when the leader was out of the room.

Democratic leadership is more likely to win the loyalty of the group. The laissez-faire groups also developed friendly approaches to the leader as in the democratic group. But suggestions from the groups were very low and they were also less productive.

4. Paternalistic leadership: Under this management style the leader assumes that his function is fatherly or paternal. Paternalism means papa knows best. The relationship between the leader and his group is the same as the relationship between the head of the family and the members of the family. The leader guides and protects his subordinates as members of his family.As the head of the family he provides his subordinates with good working conditions and fringe benefits. It is assumed that workers will work harder out of gratitude. This leadership style was admirably successful in Japan with her peculiar social background.

This leadership style has still been widely prevalent in small firms in India. However, this paternalistic approach is unlikely to work with mature adult employees, many of whom do not like their interests to be looked after by a “godfather.” Instead of gratitude, it might generate antagonism and resentment in the subordinates.

Approaches to Leadership:

Leadership has been one of the  most studied topics in management. Several studies on leadership have over ther year helped to develop various approaches to leadership.Broadly there are three aproaches to leadership.

1)Trait approaches to Leadership:

This style of leadership gives more credence to the qualities a person is born with rather than what they develop or the relationships they develop with followers. Leadership trait theory is the idea that people are born with certain character traits.  This is the style that is attributed to a leader who others see as “a born leader”.  The innate qualities and characteristics possessed by strong leaders.  These traits, while not totally responsible for an individual’s success as a leader, are influential in the success of the leader.  This theory assumes that if you could identify people with the correct traits, you will be able to identify leaders.

The first major approach to leadership is commonly referred to as the trait approach to leadership because the approach looks for a series of physical, mental, or personality traits that effective leaders possess that neither non-leaders nor ineffective leaders possess. We start with this approach to leadership predominantly because it’s the oldest of the major approaches to leadership and is an approach to leadership that is still very much in existence today. The first major study to synthesize the trait literature was conducted by Ralph Stogdill in 1948.Stogdill, R. M. (1948). Personal factors associated with leadership: A survey of the literature. Journal of Psychology, 25, 35-71. In 1970, Stogdill reanalyzed the literature and found six basic categories of characteristics that were associated with leadership: physical, social background, intelligence and ability, personality, task-related, and social.

The focus of each of these five traits needs to be on what people see you do–not just the things they don’t see you do. Being honest isn’t a matter of not lying–it is taking the extra effort to display honesty.Intelligence, Being smart,  Someone who knows what they are talking about will instill confidence in the followers.  But, if a leaders intelligence is too high for the followers, and there is a disconnect, this can create a problem.  A leader must communicate effectively with one’s followers, and this intelligence difference is something to keep in mind.

  1. Intelligence:Developing intelligence is a lifestyle choice.  Having strong verbal ability, perceptual ability and reasoning appears to make on a better leader.  Most people want to follow someone they feel is “smart”, able to problem solve and have strong social skills.  While it is good to be bright, a leader’s intellectual ability should not be too much from that of his or her followers. This too, would depend on the situation.
  2. Self-confidence:The ability to be certain about one’s competencies and skills. This allows the leader to move ahead because they believe that what they are doing is correct.  They have the skills to be successful.
  3. Determination:The desire to get the job done.  Individuals with determination are willing to assert themselves, take initiative and be persistent. This could also be shown as dominance.
  4. Integrity: The quality of honesty and trustworthiness.  The leader with a high level of integrity will take responsibility for his or her actions.
  5. Sociability:  This refers to a leaders ability to seek out pleasant social relationships.  Leaders with a high degree of sociability are friendly, out going, courteous, tactful and diplomatic.

2)Behavioral Approaches to leadership:

In response to the early criticisms of the trait approach, theorists began to research leadership as a set of behaviors. They evaluated what successful leaders did, developed a taxonomy of actions, and identified broad patterns that indicated different leadership styles. Behavioral theory also incorporates B.F. Skinner’s theory of behavior modification, which takes into account the effect of reward and punishment on changing behavior. An example of this theory in action is a manager or leader who motivates desired behavior by scolding employees who arrive late to meetings and showing appreciation when they are early or on time.

                                                                   The behavioral approach to leadership consists of following three studies.

a)The Ohio State Studies:

The Ohio State Leadership Studies have contributed in general to the fields of management and organizational behavior, and specifically to the field of leadership. These contributions can be summarized in several categories. Process contributions include the use of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of leadership phenomena as well as a consistent emphasis on performing high-quality research. Conceptually, the Ohio State studies helped to shift the focus of the field from a universal trait approach to a more situational, behavioral-based view. Methodologically, the Ohio State studies contributed a model of programmatic construct validation and investigation, and provided future researchers with useful research instruments. In sum, these contributions are substantial and are worthy of continued recognition. In 1945, a group of researchers at Ohio State University sought to identify the observable behaviors of leaders instead of focusing of their individual traits. To document their findings, they generated a list of 150 statements designed to measure nine different dimensions of leadership behavior. These statements were used to develop the Leaders’ Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ). The surveys were then given to members of a group, who were asked to respond to a series of statements about the leader of their group. Respondents of the LBDQ-rated leaders cited how frequently they engaged in a certain behavior. The results of the survey showed that two main behaviors, consideration and initiating structure, were the most significant factors in leadership.

b)University of Michigan Studies:

Lead by the famous organizational psychologist, Dr. Rensis Likert, the leadership studies at the University of Michigan identified three characteristics of effective leadership; two of which were previously observed in studies that had been conducted at Ohio State University. The study showed that task and relationship-oriented behaviors weren’t of major significance within the world of organizational psychology. However it was the third observation that introduced a new concept, one of participative leadership. As a leading center of social science research, the University of Michigan has produced some of the most important studies of leadership. Studies dating back to the 1950s identified two broad leadership styles: an employee orientation and a production orientation. The studies also identified three critical characteristics of effective leaders: task-oriented behavior, relationship-oriented behavior, and participative leadership. The studies concluded that an employee orientation rather than a production orientation, coupled with general instead of close supervision, led to better results. The Michigan leadership studies, along with the Ohio State University studies that took place in the 1940s, are two of the best-known behavioral leadership studies and continue to be cited to this day.

c)The Managerial Grid:

Managerial Grid was originally developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton between 1958 and 1960 and first published in 1964 (Blake and Mouton 1964). The model was particularly influenced by Fleishman’s work on initiating structure and consideration (Blake, Mouton and Bidwell 1969; Blake and Mouton 1982b). Fleishman posited that there were two underlying dimensions of leadership behaviour which were called “consideration” and “initiating structure” (Fleishman 1957a, 1957b; Fleishman and Peters 1962). Consideration referred to behaviour reflecting respect for subordinates’ ideas and consideration of their feelings. Initiating structure referred to the extent to which a leader structured and defined his or her role and those of subordinates in order to achieve formal organisational goals. It was argued that high consideration was associated with high subordinate satisfaction, while high initiating structure was associated with high effectiveness but also high grievance levels and absenteeism. Further, it was claimed that when leaders rated high on both dimensions, high effectiveness and high satisfaction would occur without the grievance and absenteeism. Fleishman and Simmons (1970), in a representative quote, concluded “that the leadership pattern which combines high consideration and structure is likely to optimize a number of effectiveness criteria for a variety of supervisory jobs” (p. 171). This was subsequently referred to as the “high-high” leader paradigm and was the subject of research and the target for criticism during the 1970s (Larson , Hunt and Osborn 1976; Nystrom 1978).

3)Situational Approaches to Leadership:

Situational leadership is a theory of leadership that is part of a group of theories known as contingency theories of leadership. Generally speaking, contingency theories of leadership hold that a leader’s effectiveness is related to the leader’s traits or behaviors in relation to differing situational factors. According to situational leadership theory, a leader’s effectiveness is contingent on his ability to modify his management behavior to the level of his subordinates’ maturity or sophistication.

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