This section aims to summarise the background research models in leadership which have been developed over the past fifty years. None of them provide complete answers but all contain some wisdom and ideas which people can use to reflect on their own style of leadership. Many were designed with self-assessments for that precise purpose.
The menu on the left includes descriptions of the main leadership models.
- Tannenbaum & Schmidt - Leadership Continuum
- Blake & Mouton - Management Grid
- Renee Likert - Four Systems of Management
- Hershey & Blanchard - Situational Leadership
- Peter Drucker - Management by Objectives.
- John Adair - task focussed leadership
The models fall under three headings:
- trait theories.
- style theories
- contingency theories.
"What makes a good leaders?"
Trait theories of leadership have their origins in the early part of the twentieth century and the growth of psychometric assessment procedures. They worked on the assumption that what makes someone an effective leader is their own personality and personal qualities - particularly factors such as intelligence, dominance, self-confidence, an achievement focus and interpersonal skills.
"How do effective leaders behave?"
In the 1950s and 1960s much research was carried out on leadership styles, particularly in the USA. The aim was to try to identify the most effective way for leaders to behave towards their subordinates.
A common finding was that leadership styles varied on two key dimensions. These dimensions, although often given different names, can be described as concern for task and concern for people. Models under this heading include those by:
- Tannenbaum & Schmidt
- Blake & Mouton
"What style and behaviour are suited to what situations?"
The problem with style theories was that they all tended to imply that there is one best style of leadership.
This led to the development of contingency theories which emphasise that what constitutes an effective style of leadership will depend on the situation. Bill Reddin adapted the Blake and Mouton Management Grid to create one of the earlier models. The current ideas are summarised in:
- Situational Leadership - particularly Blanchard and Hershey
- John Adair's Model