Leadership Theories

Leadership theories

How can a leader excel? Is it through leadership skills?

The topic of leadership has always been a broad field of study since the ages began.

So many postulations have been made regarding the topic in various circles. There are lots of leadership theories that have been propounded by great minds in their bid to make the subject understandable.

Let’s examine them.

  1. Behavioral Theory

Leaders are made and not born this is the belief of Behavioral theory. This theory is a direct opposite of the belief of the Great Man leadership theory which holds that leaders are born not made.

If you want to succeed well as a leader, you have to believe in the behavioral theory since it lets you know that leaders are made and not born. You can become a greater leader if you care to take time to acquire the basic requirements needed.

The behavioral theory is rooted in behaviorism. It focuses attention on the leaders’ actions and not on their mental qualities.

By observation and adequate teaching process, you can learn to become a great leader. You only need to go into action to acquire the leadership traits needed.

  1. Participative Theory

This leadership theory holds that the ideal leadership style is the one that accommodates the input of others around them. To succeed well as a leader, you have to allow those under you to contribute.

You’re not to lord it overall as a dictator. You have to carry your subjects along by listening to their opinions and using some of them especially when it comes to decision making. The theory maintains that leaders can succeed easily when they allow their subjects to make useful contributions. This is very true. You can easily succeed as a leader when you delegate duties to others and also carry them along by allowing them to have a say under your leadership.

  1. Contingency Theory

This leadership theory maintains that no leadership style is best in all situations. It states that true success in leadership depends on a number of variables such as the quality of the followers, the given condition, and the leadership style, and so on.


The environment also plays an imperative role in defining the leadership style to be used. To succeed as a leader, you have to put these variables into consideration.

  1. Great Man Theory

They are people who are “born to lead”. Leaders are born and not made this is what great man theory says. They are filled with skills like confidence, social skill, and knowledge.

This comes from the idea that leadership is primarily a male quality, particularly in terms of military leadership. The past used to portray great leaders as gallant, mythic, and legendary.

For instance Hercules, Alexander the Great, Adolf Hitler, or Napoleon Bonaparte all fall in this category.

  1. Trait Theory

Certain inherent traits like flexibility, ambition, boldness, decisive, reliability, trustworthiness, and willingness to assume responsibility. This theory is similar to the great man theory as it assumes that leaders are born with certain traits. Some of the traits are

  • A physical trait like energy, appearance, and height
  • Ability trait-like judgment, knowledge, and fluency in speech
  • A personal trait like self-confidence, creativity, and enthusiasm
  • A social trait-like interpersonal skill, cooperativeness, popularity and prestige

Leaders are created as the need for them arises. Therefore, every leader is diverse and different situation throws up different types of leaders. The leaders of the first half of the twentieth century are unlike those of the latter half. The twenty-first-century leaders have to be different than the leaders of the preceding generation. Everyone has the ability to become a leader if he has the valor of conviction and a selfless desire to do good for the people.

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