Leadership Models - a brief history
The models fall under three headings:
- trait theories - "What makes a good leader?"
- style theories - "How do effective leaders behave?"
- contingency theories - "What style and behaviour are suited to what situations?"
In the early part of the twentieth century, researchers tended to focus on Trait theories of leadership, with their origins in 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.
Later, 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
The problem with style theories was that they all tended to imply that there is one best style of leadership.
This led in the 1980's and onwards 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