Leadership Theories



TheGreat Man Theory

Thetheory reclines on two assumptions. The first assumption states thatleaders are born rather than made. Secondly, great needs call forgreat leaders (Amanchukwu et al., 2015). The theory traces its rootfrom the early leadership research that focused entirely on greatleaders. The concept of the so-called great leaders emanated fromaristocratic governments which did not allow low class families toparticipate in leadership. The theory gave rise to the belief thatthere existed a correlation between leadership and breeding.According to the supporters of the theory, leaders possess uniqueattributes that distinguish them from the others thereby enablingthem to carry the leadership mantle. The theory therefore, equatesgreat leaders to heroes that realize great accomplishments on behalfof their subjects.

Thetheory can be used to influence and reward others as well as buildtrust in an individual. On the part of influencing others, the heroicleader assumes a great leadership position thereby instilling thenotion that he has the unique attributes that guarantee his abilityto occupy the position. Since Thomas Carlyle proposed the theory at atime when only men held such powerful positions, the theory does notaddress gender issues by associating leadership with women. Suchleaders have the tendency of rewarding their subjects based on theirpresentation of loyalty and good deeds that guarantee the continuedexistence of their reign. An example of the application of the theoryto the workplace scenario is a case whereby the CEO assumes aninfluential and powerful position thereby being able to dictate theactivities of all the other workers in the organization. The CEOwould then reward the individual members based on their contributionand effort towards enabling the organization to attain itsobjectives.

ParticipativeLeadership Theory

Thereare several assumptions under the theory. For instance, all thestakeholders take part in the decision-making process to yield agreater understanding of the issues. Secondly, the level ofcommitment of individuals into particular actions is directlyproportional to their level of engagement in making decisionsconcerning the action. Moreover, the collaborative and competitiveaspect of individuals decline when they pursue joint missions orgoal. The other assumption of the theory is that the jointdecision-making process enhances the social commitment of individualstowards one another thereby elevating their commitment level to thedecision. Finally, joint decisions made by several individuals arebetter than decisions made by an individual (Bell &amp Mjoli, 2014).From the assumptions, it is evident that the major point of focus ofthe theory is the collective or joint decision making a process thatenhances the level of commitment of the individuals.

Itis also possible to use the leadership theory to influence and rewardothers besides building trust. On the part of building trust, theparticipative leader should increase the level of involvement of allstakeholders in the decision-making process. Prioritizing jointdecision-making ensures that all individuals focus on delivering theintended output due to their heightened level of trust in the action.The leader can also gain influence over the junior employees bydiscussing major issues that pertain their wellbeing and by involvingthem in the decision making process. The participative leader canalso reward the employees or subjects based on their level ofcommitment and participation in the joint decision-making process.

TheTrait Theory

Thereare three assumptions under the theory. The first assumption statesthat there are inheritable traits that are inherent to individuals.As a result, people are born with the traits. The second assumptionstates that there are specific traits that are appropriate forleadership. Consequently, individuals that have such traits are moresuited to become leaders as compared to their counterparts who do nothave the traits. Thirdly, individuals that turn into good leadershave the perfect combination of the intrinsic leadership traits(Derue et al., 2011). Therefore, people without a combination of theleadership traits cannot become good leaders. The formulation of thetheory also dates back to the early days of leadership research whereindividuals presented particular inherited traits.

Aleader that adopts the theory should exhibit the leadership traits asvehicles for gaining the trust of the subjects or employees. Theleader can also develop direct connections with individuals thatexhibit similar traits which enables continued cultivation of thetrait within the community or organization. The leadership traitsthat are necessary for gaining influence and trust in the workplaceand the community include ability to adapt to situations, alertnessto the social environment and being assertive, ambitious,achievement-oriented, cooperative, decisive, dependable and dominant.The leader should also be energetic, persistent and self-confidentbesides having the capacity to tolerate stress and assumeresponsibility based on the demands of the underlying situation. Theskills that are necessary for such leaders encompass being clever,conceptually skilled, creative, tactful and diplomatic, fluent inspeech, knowledgeable, organized, persuasive and socially skilled.


Amanchukwu,R. N., Stanley, G. J., &amp Ololube, N. P. (2015). A Review of, Principles and Styles and Their Relevance toEducational Management. Management,5(1),6-14.

Bell,C., &amp Mjoli, T. (2014). The effects of participative leadershipon organisational commitment: Comparing its effects on two gendergroups among bank clerks. AfricanJournal of Business Management,8(12),451.

Derue,D. S., Nahrgang, J. D., Wellman, N. E. D., &amp Humphrey, S. E.(2011). Trait and behavioral theories of leadership: An integrationand meta‐analytictest of their relative validity. Personnelpsychology,64(1),7-52.