Theories of effective leadership

Effective leadership can be defined through 3 theories

1. Trait Theory

2. Style Theory

3. Contingency Theory

1. Trait Theory

Trait theory consider leader having a set of qualities or traits or attributes which may not be possessed by others. These traits may include decision making skills, intelligence, confidence or any other skill that are essential for leadership. A leader may have been born or trained with all these traits or skills.

The common traits in a good leader can be categorized as


Good leaders have a vision for the future they know what step should the take in order to achieve the targets


Leaders should show signs of intelligence by tackling complex issues with relative ease.


Leaders should be able to take quick decisions and take calculated risks


Leaders should be confident and should know their strengths and weaknesses


Leaders should have the ability to supervise multiple individuals and teams effectively and efficiently.


Leaders should have their unique way of doing things and achieving targets. They should not follow the crowd.

2. Style Theory

Style theory considers the leadership style of a leader whether he/she focuses on task-oriented jobs or people-oriented jobs. Style theory deals with how a leader looks at the tasks or how does he prioritizes tasks. [2]

It is also known as behavior theory. Leader can use 2 different type of approaches.

Job centered

Leaders emphasize on the tasks assigned to users or employees and the methods used to achieve the goals and complete the tasks assigned to those employees

Employee centered

Leaders emphasize on the development relationships between the management, leaders and employees. The roles and responsibilities and the delegation of authority is discussed and proper steps taken to ensure that the job is done [3]

3. Contingency Theory

Contingency theory looks at the factors which determine the suitable style of leadership. It also looks at the optimal way of leading the team to success. [4]

This theory looks at how leaders can increase the value of employees by assigning them tasks that employees may be find interesting and suitable

Leadership vs. Management

Leadership and management are 2 different entities but they are used interchangeably. Management deals with trivial and short terms problems and solutions that affect the inner working of the organization. Managers define and refine processes, establish goals, take care of team requirements and individual needs, meet deadlines, analyze current situation and take appropriate goals.

Leaders look at the boarder picture they make decisions that inspire individuals; they take risky decisions and control the environment and have the ability to make decisions that defines the behavior of an organization and the people working in it.

Leaders and managers require a different set of characteristics. Bennis (1989) have identified the characteristics as

The functions performed by management and leaders are also somewhat similar however both of them have their unique view of looking at different attributes. This can be depicted as

Management and leadership both are required for the proper working of any organization.

Managers are required to run and organization smoothly and efficiently while leader are required to come up with a vision for the organization.

Role of leaders in a management system

  • Leaders inspire managers and team leaders they also help motivate the workforce their charisma and vision.

  • Leader set future vision for any organization.

  • Leaders see the working of operation from a broader perspective. They identify areas which need improvement.

  • Leaders lead people with new ideas, vision, new management techniques, resolving conflicts and sharing ideas.

  • Leaders do not bother with trivial issues rather they focus on the extending the limits of what can be achieved with the available resources.

  • Leaders multiply the efforts of managers and workforce managers can rely on the new found energy for the mutual good of their teams and the whole organization.

  • Leaders can play a pivotal role in change management. All organizations and individuals are susceptible to change leaders can ease the process by resolving conflicts, coming up with new ways to over come issues, stretching boundaries and rules and overcoming bureaucracy to achieve targets


[1], [2], [4] Shamil Naoum (2001). People and Organizational management in construction. pp 196

[3] LI Kouqing (2009). Leadership: Theory and practice [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Asia-Pacific Finance and Development Center website:

Source: Essay UK -

Not what you're looking for?


About this resource

This Management essay was submitted to us by a student in order to help you with your studies.


No ratings yet!

  • Order a custom essay
  • Download this page
  • Print this page
  • Search again

Word count:

This page has approximately words.



If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

Essay UK, Theories of effective leadership. Available from: <> [19-03-18].

More information:

If you are the original author of this content and no longer wish to have it published on our website then please click on the link below to request removal:

Essay and dissertation help