Leadership Definition: Review of Theories

The Trait Theory

The element of leadership has been described in various theories. According to Waite (2008), leadership has been greatly defined as an interactive measure between two or innumerable group members that entails both structuring and restructuring of the situation and the member’s exceptional perception. Leadership has been perceived as a focused group process termed to be of personality attribute under the trait theory (Manning and Curtis, 2002). It is also considered to be an art of introducing compliance as the practice of inducing a certain influence in a particular persuasive form. Leadership is considered to be a device of attaining future-oriented goals, an element of power relations, a differentiated goal, an interactive effect, and finally as a structural initiating element. In the leadership trait theory, it is believed that leadership qualities are genetically inherited (Rashid, 2000). It is these psychological characteristics that account for the effectiveness of leadership. The effectiveness trait qualities of leadership as evaluated by Gheselli over three hundred managers in the U.S. Among the identified traits were: decisiveness, need for achievement, initiative, self-confidence, and finally intelligence among others. Sun Tzu, a Chinese theorist described leadership under the trait theory as being an element of courage, trustworthiness, sternness, and lastly intelligence (Martin, 2006).

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Behavior Theory

Leadership under behavioral theory is defined as the practice of effective leaders being supportive, giving leading directions in addition to offering assistance to the subordinates to enhance the effective achievement of the organizational set objective (Parry and Meindl, 2002). Leadership under behavioral theory involves four major elements prescribed as being directive, participative and active, supportive, and finally oriented to the achievement of the set goals. The participative element in leadership can be expressed as the input of internal emotional sources guiding the technical employees in a given organization (Miner, 2007). Any leader who is participative will always maintain a final decision in any activities that are partaken regard to Chemer’s (2007) point of view.

An achievement-oriented leader will always maintain his or her innovative status of creating stimulatory objectives. These goals are highly expected under leadership pressure thus enhancing the targeted goal achievement. By virtue of being a supportive leader, one has to express great concern and care to people in need of assistance (Penning, 2000). This kind of leadership requires creating a comfortable and conducive atmosphere for the subordinates thus increasing the employees’ working motivation. A directive leader will always portray that element of informing subordinates on the organizational proceedings and future expectations. A good leader should be in a position to reveal to the employees all the strategic plans to be used in the achievement of the set organizational goals as proposed by Borkowski (2010).

Contingency Theory

Leadership under the contingency theory expects a leader to be closely related with subordinates in terms of involvement and be motivated with the work (Chance and Chance, 2002). The leader is considered to be effective when there is a closer match between him and the particular organization that he is linked to. This leadership is either relationship or task-oriented (Leitner, 2007). This theory works on the basis that, any leader who’s his style of LPC fails to correlate with the situation in place then he becomes legible of experiencing anxiety and stress along his line of leadership (Lussier and Achua, 2009). Another factor is that the leader’s coping style that is premature can easily interfere with the process of decision making thus need to cultivate a mature coping style to avoid low work output (Rowe and Guerrero, 2010). This element of leadership was discovered under a stressful condition that a certain manager was undergoing. This theory can only work only if the LPC score of a leader is quantified in three subsidiary variables which predict whether the potential leader is of an effective natural or not (Northouse, 2009).

School Leadership

Leadership in school is defined as the act of setting personal guidelines and being inspirational to others to enhance the smooth running of the school activities as proposed by (Dunford, Bennett, and Fawcett, 2000). This act aims at improving the state of the school in terms of performance and disciplinary status. The leadership process in schools involves the provenance of a group of many people by providing support and inspiration of people thus achieving an improved class of children in their caring units. Leadership in this context is considered to be contingent in terms of social organizational setting (Smith and Piel, 2006). Grace (1995) argues that leaders can only be effective when they become personally and professionally when dealing with issues. They should learn to be welcoming in a way that both personality and professionalism to be invited in schools to enhance improvement in the educational journey. Leadership in schools is meant to streamline the schools’ progressive activities in terms of boosting academic status (Morrison and Morrison, 2002). Leadership in this perspective should be connected to management for effective functioning of the school in terms of growth and development in addition to raising the academic level of the students as argued by Davis (2005) in his statement.


Borkowski N. (2010). Organizational Behavior in Health Care. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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Chance L.P & Chance W.E. (2002). Introduction to Educational Leadership and Organizational Behavior: Theory into Practice. Texas: Eye on Education.

Chemers M. M. (2007). An Integrative Theory of Leadership. London: Routledge publishers.

Davis B. (2005). The Essentials of a School Leader. New York: SAGE print.

Dunford R.J, Bennett D. & Fawcett R. (2000). School leadership: nationally and internationally. London: Routledge publishers.

Grace R.G. (1995). School Leadership Beyond Education Management: An Essay On Policy Scholarships. London: Routledge publication.

Leitner A.D (2007). Concept of Leadership and Management within the Manufacturing Industry. U.K: GRIN Verlag.

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Lussier N. R. & Achua.F. C. (2009). Leadership: theory, application, & skill development. London: Cengage Learning publication.

Manning G. & Curtis K. (2002). The Art of Leadership. Washington D.C: McGraw-Hill International.

Martin B. (2006). Outdoor Leadership: Theory and Practice. Washington D.C: Human Kinetics Publication.

Miner B. J. (2007). Organizational Behavior: From Theory to Practice. MA: M.E Sharpe publication.

Morrison K. & Morrison B. R.K. ( 2002). School leadership and complexity theory. London: Routledge publishers.

Northouse G.P. (2009). Leadership: Theory and Practice. New York: SAGE Publishers.

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Parry W. K. & Meindl R. J. (2002). Grounding leadership theory and research: issues, perspectives, and methods. New York: IAP publication

Penning M. J. (2000). Decision Making: An Organizational Behavior Approach. Los Angels: Markus Wiener Publishers.

Rashid A. S. (2000). Organizational Behavior. California: Taylor and Francis.

Rowe G. W & Guerrero L. (2010). Cases in Leadership. New York: SAGE Publishers.

Smith C.S & Piele K.P. (2006). School Leadership: Handbook for Excellence in Student Learning. Washington D.C: Corwin Press.

Waite R. M. (2008). Fire Service Leadership: Theories and Practices. NEW YORK: Jones & Bartlett Learning Publishers.

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