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Leadership Styles and Effectiveness

Updated: Dec 10, 2018

Previously my three posts focused on (a). how leadership attributes can contribute to leadership effectiveness (b). how ineffectiveness can produce leadership derailment and (c) how leadership emergence enhances leadership effectiveness. In this current post I shift the attention towards the most common types of leadership theories, and if they can ultimately contribute to effective leadership .

Leader Member Exchange Theory (LMX):

With this theory leaders place subordinates within two categories, ‘in-groups’, and ‘out-groups’. People in the ‘in-group’ are those that establish close interpersonal relationships with the leader. On the other hand, leaders keep distance from people in the out-group, those that lack personal relationships with the leaders. Although this may not be done intentionally, placing subordinates in these groups may be done as the leader identifies similar characteristics within the followers, these actions may leave those in the outgroup dissatisfied with their jobs due to a view of favoritism towards employees of the “in group”. Research through this theory shows that the effect of favoritism is envy in the workplace and the subsequent effects of envy on work engagement and socially undermining behavior, which are not favorable in promoting leadership effectiveness.

Charismatic Leadership Theory:

Charismatic leadership involves selfless leaders that seek to align the goals of the organization through their leadership style. Charisma is a personality trait that leaders possess which can lead to effective leadership, however it is difficult to evaluate this theory due to lack of sufficient empirical evidence on leadership effectiveness.

Transformational Leadership:

Transformational leadership places an emphasis on intrinsic motivation and on the positive development of followers, which represents a more appealing view of leadership. Transformational leadership theory is comprised of characteristics that help followers grow, and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization. Charisma is the most important part of transformational leadership because of the power it gives a leader. Empirical research shows the positive relationships between transformational leadership behaviors and both organizational performance and leadership effectiveness.


Transactional Leadership:

This leadership focuses on results and measures success according to that organization’s system of rewards and penalties. Transactional leadership is one in which the leader guides and motivates their followers in the direction of established goals and objectives, and depends on self-motivated people who work well in a structured, directed environment. Research states that transactional leaders typically don’t thrive in organizations that promote creativity and where innovative ideas are valued. Transactional leadership has a positive relationship with leadership effectiveness as this leadership style is effective in motivating employees in becoming productive and efficient members of the team.

Democratic Leadership:

Democratic leadership or participative/shared leadership allows subordinates or team members the ability to take a more participative role in the decision making process. However, the leader is there to oversee that tasks are completed and offers guidance and control. Researchers have found that the democratic leadership style is one of the most effective types and leads to higher productivity, better contributions from group members, and increased group morale.

Ultimately a leader must determine what leadership style aligns with their attributes to enhance leadership effectiveness.

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