While there is no one accepted definition, detailed behavioral description, or methodology to discover and train leaders, it’s worth understanding the general schools of thought on what leadership is and how it works.
The full scope and range of leadership theories can’t be summarized without some degree of simplification and exclusion, but my historical research (and personal views – more on this later) on the subject of leadership lend itself to four broad categories:
- Trait theories – leadership is based on a cluster of individual attributes or traits
- Style theories – there are multiple ways to lead and each approach consists of a group of behaviors that define the style
- Situational theories – based on the idea that effective leadership is completely based on context, and that no single optimal psychological profile of a leader exists
- Contingency theories – based on an amalgam of the three previous theories, contingency theories propose that effective leaders should and do adopt different styles depending upon the situation
Nearly three decades ago, during my days as a corporate executive, I probably fell into the first camp, believing that leadership was simply a collection of certain traits that certain people had and other people didn’t. But over the years, my views on the subject have changed.
In working with executives, entrepreneurs, coaches, and teams of all types, my business partner Gary Jordan and I have found each of these approaches to be incomplete when viewed as “the answer” to leadership. That’s why it’s so important to explore each of these theories, in addition to an approach to the subject that has proven most useful to us in helping people develop their natural leadership skills.
But first, you can gain a lot of insight into the subject just by asking yourself a few questions, based on the truth of your own experiences:
Is leadership inborn? (Do certain people have it, and others don’t?) Can leadership be learned? Can different types of people be leaders in different ways?
Do certain situations make leaders out of anyone? And do different situations call for different types of leadership skills?
Assess your answers to those questions, and then we will begin exploring the theories.
To find out more about the services we have available to help you find the success you want and deserve go to www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.