Leadership Theories and Approaches

Table of Content


Leadership is a process that involves influence and occurs in a group with common goals (Northouse, 2013). It can be broken down into four categories: A process is where groups are influenced by an individual to achieve a common goal (Northouse, 2013). Leadership is therefore not precise but rather a reciprocal event that is available to everyone (Northouse, 2013).

Leadership involves influence precisely on how the leader affects its supporters. A leader must be able to influence its followers otherwise it will be nonexistent (Northouse, 2013). Leadership can also occur in a group since it is the background in which leadership occurs. It is about one individual who influences the rest of the group in order to achieve the similar goal (Northouse, 2013). Leadership involves consideration of common goals, that need to be attained in order to accomplish a task together (Northouse, 2013). In the leadership process both leaders and followers are involved. It is often than not the leader initiates the relationship by creating linkage and bears the burden to try and maintain the relationship (Northouse, 2013).

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Leadership theories

Leadership style is a pattern or behavior between a leader and the subordinate (Walker and Miller, 2012). There are several ways to approach a leadership role

  • The old-style boss- they tend to make decisions without input from any staff members. They give demands and expect them to be fulfilled without question. Employees needs would not be considered before organizational ones (Walker and Miller, 2012)
  • Situational leadership- it is the adaptability of a leader to the situation at hand. Each situation would require a different kind of leader (Walker and Miller, 2012. In this approach leadership is seen as specific to the situation in which it is being exercised (Navickas, Navickas and Jegelavičiūtė, 2018).
  • Transactional leadership- this is a leader that motivates the employees by appealing to their needs. This type of a leader would focus more on effective communication and goals to maintain standards (Walker and Miller, 2012). Subordinates are motivated by a transactional leader using contingent rewards, enforcing rules and corrective actions (Swamy and Nan jundeswaraswamy, 2019).
  • Transformational leadership – this is a leader that motivates employees to work hard in order to achieve more than they thought they could. It is closely related to Emotional intelligence (Ariyabuddhiphongs and Kahn, 2017). They act as a mentor or coach, provide challenging jobs to their employees to inspire them to surpass their expectations (Walker and Miller, 2012).

In my opinion I think a transformational leader and transactional leader have some similar traits such as motivation towards employees to achieve goals, so they have a self-reinforcement (Wang, Tsai and Tsai, 2014). While the old-style boss and situational theory are opposite since one relies on action within the moment and the is rigid dictatorship.

There are a several advantages to view leadership from a trait approach.

I chose to relate Blake and Mouton managerial grid which is classified under a style approach versus the psychodynamic approach which focuses on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator leadership style (Northouse, 2013). Managerial grid describes a person’s attitude against production and people while Blake and Mouton is based on the personality of a singular (Hersey and Blanchard, 1982).

Psychodynamic approach

According to Ernest L. Stech, the psychodynamic approach consists of a variety of leadership styles. It is the consistency with a person’s behavior in the way they think, feel as well as act with relation to the environment and other people (Northouse, 2013). Personality is usually characterized by traits or qualities that a person would reveal such as shyness, independence, creativity or intelligence (Northouse, 2013). There is a full list of possible personality traits and psychologists have confirmed that none is better than the other (Northouse, 2013). Numerous questionnaires have been formed for use of characterizing an individual’s personality.

Each personality type has its stronghold and suitability when it comes to a leadership position (Northouse, 2013. In order to have an effective work situation there is no need to match the personality traits of the leader to that of the follower (Northouse, 2013).

Carl Jung

According to Carl Jung human behavior can be understandable as well as predictable (Northouse, 2013). People generally have desires when it comes to how they think or feel, and this will reflect on the outcome of their work and relations with various people. Jung in Northouse (2013) then came up with four dimensions which he believes are a basis of human behavior

  • First, is when a person assumes their internal or external energy.
  • How they gather information.
  • The decision-making process.
  • Lastly the difference between a spontaneous person and one that plans and follows a schedule.

The MBTI results are given in form of letters and numbers and this suggests how clearly the defendant has chosen their options (Henry, 2001). According to the theory an assumption is that one of the preferences (S, N, T, F) will act as the personality trait of an individual (Henry, 2001). It is also known as the dominant and the other three are auxiliary function.

The four types of classifications are (Cherry, 2019):

  • A person who likes to derive energy externally or internally is classified under an extrovertist or an introvertist.
  • Secondly, when it comes to gathering information it is either done in a precise or insightful way. This would be classified under senses versus intuition.
  • Thirdly is a person who makes decisions rationally or subjectively and they are classified under a thinker versus a feeler.
  • And lastly, we have a judge versus a perceiver, and this is someone who would rather live in an organized or spontaneous way.

There are 16 potential sequences from the four dimensions. My result was an ESTJ, which is described as an efficient driver (Richmond, 2008). Some of the positive attributes of an efficient driver is An ESTJ as a manager will be influenced to set direction from the very beginning (Richmond, 2008). They decide on it promptly and know what needs to be achieved in order to accomplish the set goals (Richmond, 2008). They are practical and implement ideas as well as create plans that are modelled with values (Richmond, 2008).

Inspiring others is achieved through the tendency to set high measures that have a clear and decisive role with a specific outcome (Richmond, 2008). And lastly an ESTJ can drive motivation through assuring goals will be met according to the set standards and plans successfully completed (Butt, 2019).

Style approach

This style approach accentuates the behavioral manner of a leader (Northouse, 2013. Leadership can be categorized under two kinds of behavior, they are relationship and task behavior. Task behavior helps group members accomplish their goals while relationship behavior assists subordinates to get more comfortable amongst themselves and others (Northouse, 2013). Blake and Mouton was one of the many studies undertaken to investigate how a manager uses behavior in an organization setting (Northouse, 2013).

Blake and Mouton managerial grid

It was first conducted in the1960’s and has since then been used for organizational training and development (Northouse, 2013). The theory explains two factors: concern for production and concern for people and how it would help an organization fulfill their objectives (Northouse, 2013). Concern for production is the sole focus of a leader on the achievement of an organization’s objectives (Northouse, 2013). It is based on what the organization wants to accomplish it may involve a new product development or the volume of sales (Northouse, 2013). A leader that tends to people’s needs and tries to achieve the objectives is classified under concern for people. It may include trust and commitment within the organization, good working conditions as well as social relations (Northouse, 2013).

The two factors are joined on a leadership grid where the axes intersect. At the point of intersection, the grid portrays five major managerial styles (Northouse, 2013). They are country club (1,9), impoverished (1,1), authoritarian (9,1), team management (9,9) and middle of the road (1,1) (Northouse, 2013). As a team leader I am more of a dictator which is linked to the old style- boss theory where I would expect a subordinate to perform the task as I say. As an improvement I should try middle of the road (5,5) leadership style to balance between the organization goals and needs of the employees through communication objectives (Foskett et al., 2018).

Leadership development

Based on MBTI self-assessment some of my challenges included (Richmond, 2008)

  • Struggling to articulate my words in a way that would inspire a large audience.
  • Being impatient with people who act slowly than I do and in the end judge them as not being as bright as they should be.
  • Being outspoken by not mincing words basically be blunt and straight forward.
  • Give more negative feedback than positive which leaves others feeling criticized when it was not one’s intention.

In order to be a better leader, I would have to develop and become (Richmond, 2008)

  • More patient with people who work slower than I do but at the same time encourage them let them know my expectations clearly so that they can work towards fulfilling them.
  • Learn how to be softer in my way of communication by asking more questions and learning something from others. At the same time find a way to appreciate my colleagues and motivate them to make a difference (Schoemaker, Heaton and Teece, 2018).


According to my results from Belbin self-perception theory I am more focused when it comes to shaping. This would be a great fit in conjunction with MBTI results since I would fit a supervisory position. According to Belbin Team Roles (2019), a shaper is a person that challenges the team to improve and uses the best sources in order to solve problems more efficiently. A shaper shakes things up in order to consider all possibilities and pushes others when they feel like giving up (Belbin Team Roles, 2019). Based on the Blake and Moutons Managerial Grid, as a team leader I would have to improve on my concern for people and less on production. In order to achieve this, I would have to identify my strengths versus my weaknesses, lead with respect, have a vision and always look at the big picture in a situation (Szu-Fang, 2013).

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