A Continuous Process of Elevating Self

Even as the central theme of leadership efficacy revolves around the qualities like effective communication, vision, and application, a plethora of apparently contradicting leadership theories serve pointers to the lack of congruence among researchers. However, if someone explores the chronological evolution of leadership theories, one can find that the current refined state of leadership concept is actually the outcome of a relentless experimentation of the researchers.

Thus this essay explores the journey of leadership theories with the assumption that it is the multidimensional investigation of the researchers that has immensely helped the leadership concept to reach in its present stage where it has the power to align the past with the future while taking care of the present.

The Journey of Leadership Concept The diverse socio-political background amid which various researchers worked, could serve the first clue about why the theories apparently look distant from one another.

The documented leadership research of the past 100 years can be divided into four major categories like trait, behavior, contingency/situational, and transformational theories.

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The chronological distribution of the same clearly shows why one research finding virtually led the researchers towards another unknown area of leadership. In the 1900s, "Great Man" Theory emerged from the social situation where only the elite class enjoyed the monopoly of leadership practice, which influenced the researchers to focus on the qualities of the ruling or prospective leaders.

1930s saw the emergence of "Group Theory," due to the popularization of democracy, which influenced the researchers to focus on mass leaders.

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“Trait Theory" (Gardener, 1989) made its mark in 1940-50s, where the researchers tried to underpin certain traits found in the then leaders as the inherent qualities of leadership, which generated the idea that leaders are born. However, soon it was found that this theory could not explain why many people fail to become leaders in spite of possessing all or most of such traits.

Such a gap in trait theory prompted the researchers to focus on the behavioral process of the leaders all throughout 1950-60-s, which culminated into "Behavior Theory" (Lewin et al. , 1938), which arrived at the conclusion that anyone can become a leader by adopting behavioral traits that are required to lead others. This concept democratized the leadership issue by declaring that leaders can be made. However, this theory too fell short in explaining how a fixed set of behavior can match with different situations.

The above gap led the researchers of 1960-70s to assess and formulate the lists of probable situations, which culminated into "Contingency/Situational Theory. " Researchers like Mintzberg (1973) identified the elements like interpersonal communication, information sharing and decision-making as the integral part of effective leadership. However, it did not take much time to discover that situations are far too dynamic and the decision-trees or wheel diagrams containing situations with suggested leadership actions are proving useless more often than not.

Therefore, 1980s saw the emergence of "Excellence Theory," that aimed to find an all-weather leadership that would be able to tackle unique situation with their excellence. Accordingly, from then on, the researchers are trying to cover every little detail of the leaders that are associated with leadership excellence. From this result-oriented outlook, two major theories emerged, such as transactional and transformational/servant leadership, where the second concept got momentum with the rise of the human capital as the main source of business and development (Barney, 1991). This emergence again influenced the shift in researchers' focus.

However, the debate on whether the leaders are born or can be made was still on for quite sometime, till Greenleaf (1977), the proponent of "Servant Leadership" claimed that the qualities of servant leadership are learnable. A little later in 1995, Goleman, the propagator of "Emotional Intelligence" also declared that the elements of emotional intelligence could be learned, which only corroborated Greenleaf's claim, since there is a striking resemblance between the 10 principles of Servant Leadership (also used by Ernest Shackleton, the early 20th century explorer), and Goleman's five elements (with their subsets) of Emotional Intelligence.

Thus the contributions of several researchers have enabled today's leadership concept to explore and exploit the intrinsic realm of human mind to achieve sustenance and development. Conclusion The above state of affairs clearly shows that different findings of the researches have actually complemented one another in developing the leadership concept, and from this perspective, the researchers' divergent views actually have greatly contributed to the refinement of leadership concept over the last 100 years or a little more.

Now it is about time to put confusions to rest by believing in the concept that leadership should give birth to leadership in each followers, where both the leaders and the followers would be driven by two aims like developing the self to the limit of one's ability and delivering the organizations in the same spirit. Summary The basic demand from the leadership still remains the same, such as the ability to produce maximum possible result under a given circumstance with minimum possible time. However, the connotations of the words like "result" and "circumstance," too have evolved with the refinement of human knowledge.

For example, the efficacy of leadership is now being measured by the result like how much the leader can extract the best possible performance from each of their followers. It took a long period for leadership research to realize the potential of intrinsic motivation to bring out the best in followers and for that matter the leaders not only need to be equipped with high level of emotional intelligence but also with an indomitable spirit of service to create similar potential in each of their followers.

Once these two factors are resolved, the rest elements are bound to fall in place, such as how to motivate the employees to provide their best. Therefore, the concepts like supportive, directive, participative, transactional or charismatic leaders all played their part towards forming the concept of servant leadership, which aims to cover all spheres of the followers with an intrinsic desire to create servant leaders in each of their followers.

Updated: Apr 13, 2021
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A Continuous Process of Elevating Self. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-continuous-process-of-elevating-self-new-essay

A Continuous Process of Elevating Self essay
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