• Why choose leadership?
A quote from beginning of Lock’s (1991) book on leadership: ‘There probably has never been a society, country, or organisation that did not have a leader; if there has, it probably did not survive for long.’ The assumption under the quote is that leaders are indispensable elements of an effective organisation. Nowadays, leadership seems to be increasingly challenging because of the pace of change, the illusion of control and the high expectations of followers (John, 2005). In line with that, demands on leaders are changing in their nature and also increasing (Dess and Picken, 2000). Leadership based upon monitoring and control of subordinates is no ...view middle of the document...
If leaders do have some superior qualities in common and that differentiate them from others, then it could be possible to select them out and promote them to leadership positions (F. M. Wilson, 2004; David A. Buchanan and Andrzej A. Huczynski, 1985, 2010).
Some early work (Stogdill, 1974; House and Baetz, 1979: John, 2005) found that leaders tended to be higher than non-leaders on:
Dominance/need for power;
Knowledge of the task.
However, possessing some combination of characteristics mentioned above cannot definitely make a person be a successful leader. It is also evident that even those great leaders may behave extremely different in the similar situations. Hence, personality characteristics in themselves do not make leaders effective. What matters is how those characteristics are expressed in their behaviour, and how that behaviour is understood by others (John, 2005). House and Baetz (1979) also argued two important insights that:
A leader’s personal characteristics must be expressed in his or her behaviour if those characteristics are to have an impact on performance.
Different types of tasks may require somewhat different leader characteristics and behaviours.
• Person Orientation and Task Orientation leadership
Two famous projects had been carried out by two US universities, one is Ohio State University and the other is Michigan University. The work of Michigan identified two dimensions of leadership behaviour (Katz et al., 1950):
Fleishman (1969) refined the descriptions as:
Consideration: the extent to which a leader demonstrates trust of subordinates, respect for their ideas, and consideration of their feelings.
Structure: the extent to which a leader defines and structures his or her own role and the roles of subordinates toward goal attainment. The leader actively directs group activities through planning, communicating information, scheduling, criticising and trying out new ideas.
Michigan’s group also found that effective leaders often tend to concern about their subordinates, while ineffective leaders focus only upon the task (John, 2005). It is supposed that relationship-oriented leaders are more popular compared with those task-oriented ones.
• Transactional leadership and Transformational leadership
McGregor Burns (1978) firstly raise the conceptions of transactional and transformational leadership. Then Bass (1985) developed his work by designing a questionnaire called Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. Referring to Burns’s (1978) explanations transactional leadership bases on exchanges, or transactions, with subordinates. The leaders offer clarity and rewards, and in return subordinates contribute effort and skill. On the other hand, transformational...