Leadership Defination


A key role of management is to direct and motivate employees to work productively, in order to achieve the organisational objectives that have been set for them. While organisations traditionally focused on directing employees in a top down hierarchical fashion the current focus in on leading and motivating.


Leadership can be defined as the capacity to achieve the objectives of the organisation, by showing what needs to be done and by showing how to do it. Therefore, leadership is a management process of getting results through people and other resources and involves:

  • Creating a vision for others to follow
  • Establishing values
  • Transforming the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation
  • Organising and motivating employees by means of workgroups, teams and departments
  • Organising resources in the most effective manner
  • Resolving conflicts that may arise

Difference between Leadership and Management

Leadership and management are different, but compatible qualities that are both important to the organisation. While management is concerned with organising, planning, directing, and controlling through formal authority, leadership is concerned with creating a vision for the future and developing a strategy to make the vision a reality.


Though leadership and management qualities may overlap within the same individual, there are distinct differences. Leadership qualities tend to be visionary, passionate, creative, flexible, inspiring, innovative, courageous and imaginative. On the other hand management qualities tend to be rational, consulting, persistent, problem solving, analytical and tough mindedness. While a person may possess more of one set of qualities than the other, a manager should have a balance between both leadership and managerial qualities.

Source of Power

One of the main differences between management and leadership relates to the source of their power. Power is important in an organisational context as it linked with the ability to influence the behaviour of others. The types of power associated with leadership and management are personal power and positional power, respectively.


Personal power comes from the leaders themselves – their interest, values and goals. Personal power promotes vision, creativity and change within the organisation.


Positional power is associated with management and it comes for the organisational structure. It promotes stability, order and problem solving within the structure.

The differences between leadership and management are summarised in Figure 5.1:


                   Leadership Management
Concerns Creating a vision for the future Organising, planning, directing
Developing a strategy to realise the vision  Controlling through formal authority
Focus      on     bringing     about


 Operation of current procedures
Inspiring people towards higher levels of performance  Achieving goals
Qualities Visionary, passionate, creative Rational, consulting, persistent
Flexible, inspiring, innovative Problem solving, analytical
Courageous and imaginative Tough minded
Source of Power Personal power Positional power

Figure 5.1: Differences between leadership and management


The fundamental difference between leadership styles has to do with where decision making rests. It is possible to identify the following five generic leadership styles as shown in Figure 5.2.

Autocratic Leadership

This style of leadership involves making decision without consultation. Management retain high levels of power over subordinates through the issuing of orders. The dominant characteristics of an autocratic leader include:

  • Decisiveness
  • Dominance
  • Aggressiveness
  • Self-assurance
  • Initiative

Autocratic leadership is most prevalent in the military and is most effective in emergency situations where absolute trust in the leaderships is required. Motivation will often be the result of fear and intimidation.

Bureaucratic Leadership

This style of leadership involves centralised managerial decision-making and is supported by rules, regulations and policies, which employees must follow. Because of the absence of flexibility, organisations using bureaucratic leadership will often find it difficult to cope with changes in the market place. The dominant characteristics of this type of leadership include:

  • Stability
  • Strength of conviction
  • Deliberateness

This style of leadership is most prevalent in large organisations and in the civil service.

Democratic Leadership

Democratic leadership involves wider participation in the decision-making process – it would involve employees having input in management decision making. The management characteristics associated with democratic leadership include:

  • Flexibility
  • Good communication skills
  • Co-operation
  • Openness

Organisations that rely on rigorous and consistent procedures for their success would have limited scope for democratic leadership.

Laissez Fair Leadership

This style involves management setting goals and objectives, and allowing employees a free reign to accomplish these as they see fit. It is most commonly seen in high tech industries; engineering, research and development and professions such as architecture, management consultancy and medicine. The managerial characteristics required for this style of leadership include:

  • Understanding
  • Good judgement
  • Trust

Employee Controlled Leadership

In these types of organisations employees set goals and make decisions, while management deal with the administrative aspects of these decisions. An example of where this style of leadership would be used is in universities. Dominant management characteristics include:

  • Responsiveness
  • Tact
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility


This section provides a summary on four main schools of thought on leadership, namely:

  • The trait approach
  • The behaviour approach
  • The contingency approach
  • The charismatic approach

Trait Theories

The earliest theories of leadership focused on traits. The basis of these theories was that it was possible to identify a set of underlying characteristics that make all great leaders great. The trait theories argue that leaders are born with particular traits such as personality traits, and physical traits that mark them out to be leaders.

Research into the universal traits possessed by leaders has produced little by way of compelling evidence. The view that leaders are born and not made is not as strongly held today.

The following is a summary of trait theories:

  • Traits and skills can be identified that set leaders apart from non-leaders.
  • The traits identified mainly concern personality, including such characteristics as dependability, intelligence, shows initiative, lateral thinker, need for achievement, visionary etc.
  • These traits and skills can be used to select leaders – such an approach is used in personal specifications for selection.
  • This approach has re-emerged as management competencies.

Behaviour and Style Theories

Results from two research groups at the Ohio State University (Stogdill and Coons, 1957) and at the University of Michigan (Likert, 1961) are described as follows:

Ohio State University Studies

These studies sought to identify and classify the various dimensions of leadership behaviour. Two categories were identified that accounted for the majority of the leadership behaviour. These two categories were called:

  • Initiating Structure style (Task-oriented behaviour): This style reflects the extent to which the leader defines his/her role and the role of their followers in achieving established goals.
  • Considerate style (People-oriented behaviour): This style reflects the extent to which the leader focuses on establishing trust, mutual respect and rapport between themselves and their followers and among the group of followers.

This research demonstrated that leaders that show behaviour with high levels of initiating structure style and high levels of considerate style were generally more likely to achieve higher performance among their followers.

University of Michigan Studies

These studies sought to examine the nature of the relationship between behavioural characteristics of leaders and performance effectiveness. The research produces a two-way classification of leadership; employee-oriented and production-oriented styles. Employeeoriented leaders emphasise interpersonal relations in the workplace while production-oriented leaders focus on the technical aspects of work.

The results of the study showed that the employee-oriented leaders achieved higher productivity and job satisfaction among their workers than production-oriented leaders. However, the study also found that the employee-oriented and production-oriented approaches needed to be balanced.

The results of the two studies could be summarised as follows:

  • They suggest that the behaviour of the leader, rather than a personality trait, determines leadership effectiveness.
  • There are two dimensions of leader behaviour; production-oriented versus employeecentred
  • Employee-centred leadership is favoured over task-centred leadership.
  • The most effective leaders emphasise concern for their employees.
  • There are some situations where task-centred leadership is more appropriate.

Contingency Leadership Theory 

These theories are based on the premise that predicting leadership success and effectiveness is more complex than simply isolating traits or behaviour. Situational factors, such as the characteristics of the employees, experience of the leader and the nature of the task being done also have an effect on the leader’s effectiveness.


Fielder Theory (1970s) was an attempt to combine leadership style and organisational situation. The idea was to match the leader’s style with the most favourable situation.

According to Fielder effective leadership is a function of four factors:

  • Leader’s preferred style
  • Leader-member relations
  • Task structure
  •  Situational Factors o Leader’s position power

Leadership Style

Fielder identified two main leadership styles:

  • Relationship-motivated leaders: These obtain satisfaction from having good relationships with others. They usually encourage participation and involvement and are concerned about what the other team members think of them.
  • Task-motivated leaders: These are strongly focused on the task and emphasise procedures and task completion.

Fielder’s view was that both these styles could be useful and effective in appropriate situations.

Leadership style was measured with a questionnaire known as the least preferred co-worker (LPC) scale. The LPC scale has an 18 adjectives pairs (each adjective in a pair oppose one another) along an 8 point scale.

Examples of the adjectives are as follows: open   1         2         3         4         5         6         7         8     guarded quarrelsome    8         7         6         5         4         3         2         1     harmonious efficient 1         2         3         4         5         6         7         8     inefficient self-assured 1         2         3         4         5         6         7         8     hesitant gloomy 8         7         6         5         4         3         2         1     cheerful


The manager (leader) is asked to describe the person they worked least well with- in the past (least preferred co-worker) on a scale 1-8. If the leader describes the least preferred coworker using positive concepts, he or she is considered relationship-oriented – a leader who cares about and is sensitive to others feelings. On the other hand, if a leader uses negative concepts to describe the least preferred co-worker, he or she is considered task oriented – a leader who places greater value on tasks than on people.


Leadership situations can be analysed in terms of three elements which can be favourable or unfavourable for the leader:

  • Leader-member relations: This refers to group atmosphere, and members’ attitude towards and acceptance of the leader.
  • Task structure: This refers to the extent to which tasks performed by the group are defined, have specific procedures and have clear explicit goals.
  • Leader’s position power: This refers to the extent to which the leader has formal authority over subordinates.


When he examined the relationship between leadership style and situational factors, and the link with performance Fielder found the following:

  • When all three elements are favourable, the task oriented leader excelled because everyone got on well together, the task is clear and the leader has power – all that is needed is for someone to provide direction.
  • When the situation is unfavourable to the leader, a great deal of structure and task direction is needed so a task-oriented leader will do best.
  • When the situation is intermediately favourable the relationship-oriented leader will do best because human relations skills are important in achieving high group performance.


This theory focuses on the characteristics of the employee in determining appropriate leadership behaviour. According to Hersey and Blanchard, subordinates vary in their readiness level. People who are low in task readiness, because of little ability or training, or insecurity, need a different leadership style than those who are high in readiness and have good ability, skills, confidence and willingness to work.

According to the situational theory a leader can adopt one of four leadership styles based on a combination of relationship (concern for people) and task (concern for production) behaviour. The four styles are as follows:

  • Telling Style: This style reflects a high concern for task and a low concern for people and relationships. It involves giving explicit instructions on how a task should be accomplished. A telling style is appropriate when followers are at a low readiness level because of poor ability and skills, little experience, insecurity or unwillingness to take responsibility for their own task behaviour.
  • Selling style: This style is based on a high concern for both people and tasks. The selling style involves giving direction but also includes seeking input and clarifying the task rather than simply giving instructions. A selling style is appropriate with moderate levels of readiness. These subordinates might lack some education, experience and skills, but they demonstrate high confidence, ability, interest and willingness to learn.
  • Participation Style: The style is based on a combination of high concern for people and low concern for production tasks. The leader shares ideas with subordinates, gives them a chance to participate and facilitates decision making. A participating style is appropriate with high levels of readiness. These subordinates might have the necessary education, experience and skills, but might be insecure in their abilities and need some guidance
  • Delegation Style: This style reflects a low concern for both relationships and tasks. This leader style provides little direction and little support because the leader turns over responsibility for decisions and their implementation to subordinates. When followers have a very high level of education, experience and readiness to take responsibility for their own task behaviour, the delegating style can be used effectively.

Charismatic Leadership Theories

Studies have focused on the behaviours that distinguish charismatic leaders from noncharismatic leaders. House (1977) suggests that charismatic leaders are exceptionally selfconfident, are strongly motivated to attain and assert influence, and have strong conviction in the moral rightness of their beliefs.

Studies have focused on the behaviours that distinguish charismatic leaders from noncharismatic leaders.

Competencies displayed by charismatic leaders include the following:

  • Compelling vision or purpose
  • The ability to communicate the vision to others • Demonstrate consistency and focus in pursuit of vision
  • Know their own strengths and capitalise on them.

Transactional -Transformational Leadership

Burns (1978) looked at management differences between successful and unsuccessful companies and concluded that the key factor contributing to success was “transformational leadership”. In his research he identified two types of leadership; transactional and transformational. These leadership types are summarised as follows:

Transactional leadership:

  • Leaders motivate their followers in the direction of established goals by clarifying role and task requirements.
  • Leaders allocate work, make routine decisions and monitor performance.
  • Works best in stable situations with routine tasks. 

Transformational leadership:

  • Leaders have skills to recognise the need for change and identify action.
  • Associated with vision, inspiration and charisma.
  • Focus on high performance.
  • Works best in uncertainty and change.
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