Over the decades, several research studies have been conducted by different scholars from various disciplines of study and fields of research. Historically, the study of leadership originated from the faculty of social sciences, featuring anthropology, Psychology, and sociology. Aspects of leadership studies were also observed in the study of history and philosophy, management and education. It had also been closely linked to the organizational studies. In this paper, the aspect of organizational and personal leadership is reassessed, including the theoretical perspectives and the various models that have often been applied to the different styles of leadership. A number of factors, such as power, culture and gender which have often been deemed as so influential in leadership are also considered in this paper.
Organizational leader may be defined as that individual who sets the direction in the organization, with the aim of influencing others (employees/junior staff members) to follow his or her decisions depending on a number of factors.
Researches on leadership and leadership skills have been done based on diverse perspectives. Between the years 1900 and 1950s, major studies were done on the relationship between leaders and followers and the characteractist that were distinctive between the two i.e. leaders and followers. The influence of situations and/or different conceptualities on leadership traits were also probed by the early researchers. This were preceded by the studies that attempted to distinguish between effective and otherwise non-effective leaders and the factors that contributed towards the effectiveness of leaderships as perceived from the various contexts.
To shade more light on the studies and findings, the researchers applied models and theories e.g. the contingency model was used to assess the correlation that existed between situational variables, personal traits and the effectiveness of leadership in organizations. The 1970 and 1980s studies focused majorly on the effects of individual traits in leadership and the resultant effects of such observations to the success of the organizations. The early studies then concluded that the aspects of leadership and leaders were critical components of organizations, both the non-profit or profit oriented.
In the initial stages, studies researches on leadership and leaders concentrated much on the effects of personal characteristics on leadership. Individual traits such as cultural background, intelligence, socioeconomic status and birth orders were among the key features that were monitored in leaders. (Stogdill et el, 1974).
In 1974, Stogdill (Stogdill, 1974) identified and noted six groups of personal traits (theories & models) that influence leadership. According to him, these factors were inclusive of responsibility, achievement, participation, status, and situation, asserting that a single trait was enough to distinguish a leader from non-leaders, and that not all the six factors or combinations of them were the determining aspects of leadership(Stogdill, 1948, p. 64).Stogdill et el then analyzed the models as follows;
The Situational model (Impact of setting on leaders)
This model was probed by Hoy and Miskel (Hoy & Miskel, 1987, p. 273) who argued that a situation or the context from which a leader functions was a determinant factor on the abilities of leaders, thus the situational leadership concept. The researchers went ahead to identify the key features of the situational leadership that was attributed to the success of leaders.
In reviewing the theories on leadership, Hencley (Hencley, 1973, p.38) posited that the situational approach was the determinant factor on the success of leadership a opposed to the individual traits. Going by his (Hencley) arguments, an individual could be a leader or a follower based on his or her characteristics, but these were significantly influenced by the context under which the leadership role could be executed. Hoy and Miskel (Hoy & Miskel, 1987, p.132) made attempts to analyze the situational factors that had the greatest impact on leaders` performance. They came up with four of such factors; these to them encompassed; the structural features of the organization; the organizational climate, the role characteristics and the subordinate characteristics.
The two-dimensional model/theory (Effective leaders)
In attempts to determine what make leaders effect in organizations, a number of research studies were conducted by various researchers, the caliber of Barnard (1938), zender et el (1960) and Etzion (1961).The information that were obtained from the studies were on the relationship between behaviors and leadership. The researchers grouped the behaviors into two dimensions, that is, initiating structures considerations dimentions.The initiative structures entailed the planning, organizing and definition of the organizational roles, whilst the consideration aspect was concomitant to the social, emotional necessities, work satisfaction and self esteem in relation to performance. To Barnard (Barnard, 1938), the two dimensions entailed effectiveness and efficiency, unlike Cartwright and Zender (Cartwright & Zander, 1960, p.129) who asserted that the two dimensional models could be classified as goal achievement and group mainteinance.These to Etzioni (Etzioni, 1961, p.74), were to be the Instrumental dimensions and the dimensions on expressive needs, or system and person oriented behaviors according to Stogdill (Stogdill, 1963, p.126).These were apparent evidence that there was a debate on which dimensions was more critical on assessing the relationship between behaviors, effectiveness of leadership and performance.
It was later settled that among the dimensions that were posted by the various researchers, a study that was done by Halpin in 1964 (Halpin, 1966, p.96) on the behaviors of leaders (LBDQ) gave the best approach to the study and was adopted by many scholars studying leadership. According to the research findings (Leader Behavior Data Questionnaire- LBDQ), effective leadership behaviors tended to be associated mostly with better performance records based on the dimentions.The researchers concluded that generally, effective leadership or leaders were capable of addressing the roles or functions and the human aspects or organizations.
The theory of Contingency (Contingency model)
This model of leadership focused on the relationship between the personal traits (personalities of the leaders), behaviors and the situational variables. To this theory(Contingency model), various situations or circumstances require different styles, rather types of leadership and that this are moderated by the personality and then behaviors of leaders which is observed in the overall performance of the organization in question. (Hoy & Miskel, 1987, p. 273).To concludes on this model, Fiedler (Fiedler, 1967) attempted to distinguish between the different types of leadership and behaviors, positing that the styles of leadership reflected the system that motivated the leaders and that the behaviors in leadership were specific to leaders.
This theory considered the interaction between situational characteristics and leadership behaviors as the determining factors of leaders` effectiveness. This theory was advanced by House in the 1970s (House's (1971), in which case he highlighted four behaviors in leadership. These behaviors were to be the directive behavior, achievement oriented behavior, supportive behavior and the participative behavior, arguing that these behaviors alongside the situational variables and environmental demands, were the determining factors of effective leadership.
Criticisms on the models of leadership
Unlike the Contingency model, which failed to clearly explain the connection between leadership characteristics, behaviors of leaders and situational variables, the path-goal theory was deemed as more apparent and clear in analyzing the components that surrounded performance and leadership in organizations.
Burnes and Kriger (Barnes and Kriger, 1986,p.15) argued that the early theories and models of leadership generally failed to address amicable the issues of leadership as they only concentrated on the cases of single leaders and concepts of multi-followers rather than organizational leadership as perceived in the broadest sense, that is, a number of leaders existing in an organization and not a single person always leading. The further deduced that the concept of organizational leadership was not properly examined by the theories and models as was done on the individual leadership characteristics and behaviors.
To make to clearer. Slater and Doing (Slater and Doig 1988, p.296) added that organizational leadership was an attribution of a shared leadership and not an individualized leadership as the various theories reflected. They justified their claims by asserting that the assumptions that leadership is the possession of an individual only rendered the fact that leadership could as well be exercised in a group or a team of persons. These assertion were backed up by Murphy (Murphy 1988,p.655) who stated that the hero-leader approach neglected the possibility of lower leveled organizational staffs being capable of leading or becoming prominent leaders or even possessing effective leadership traits in them.