Leadership: Definition, Style, Behavior, Evolution, and More

June 6, 2024


This is the complete guide on leadership. Whether you’re considering a leadership course or you’re already through your first month in the program, you’ll find this guide insightful.

Let’s get started.

What is Leadership?

Leadership has no universally accepted definition. It depends on the question’s motivation and the person asked. For some, it is about attaining favorable outcomes. For others, it may mean obtaining influence.

Regardless of the varying perspectives, we can define leadership as a technique, activity, talent, or aptitude of influencing or guiding other persons in a company, a business, or an organization.

Every entity values performance and it’s through leadership that such entities as businesses, companies, and organizations can increase profit. To be precise, leadership is important because it can boost the performance of a group, enhance corporate behavior, and instill effective skills while boosting teamwork.

Leadership Styles

Leadership styles are the means through which leaders encourage, direct, and implement plans. Multiple leadership styles coexist in workplace environments, and every style has its benefits and drawbacks.

It’s important to keep in mind that there is no single optimal style. The approach that an organization or business adapts will mostly depend on the objectives and culture. 

Regardless of the leadership style that a company or organization adopts, the leader must have the skills necessary to lead people to achieve common goals.

A good leader must have:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Technical skills
  • Conceptual skills

Leadership Behavior

We can define leadership behavior as personality traits, features, and attributes that a leader should have, as they contribute to leadership success.

There are two types of leadership behavior:

  • People-oriented leaders: These leaders focus on leader to member connections. They are kind and supportive, and they are better at establishing confidence and loyalty.
  • Task-oriented leaders: These leaders focus on procedures, well-defined goals, and structures. They adhere to rigorous timetables and place a premium on attaining results.

Leadership vs Management: What’s the Difference?

Leaders and managers have one thing in common. They help businesses and organizations to reach their eventual goal.

However, leaders and managers aren’t the same.  

1.They’re vision focused and can bring visions to reality by motivating others.They focus on accomplishing tasks and responsibility of an organization.
2.Leaders focus on long-term goals and develop culture based on shared values.Managers focus on short-term goals and work towards maintaining an already existing structure.
3.A leader will focus on individualism and relationship.A manager focuses on maintaining structure and process.
4.They lead and encourage people to focus on the bigger picture.They may lead people, but their focus is often short-term.
5.Leaders focus on the future. Managers focus on the current issues. 

It’s important that you develop managerial skills over time to become an effective leader in an organization. Leaders must take responsibility to oversee everything in an organization, and that means equally managing the managers.

How Has Leadership Evolved?

There are eras through which leadership has evolved, and they’re as follows:

1. The Trait Era

The Trait era began in the late nineteenth century and continued until the mid-1940s. This period’s researchers backed the notion that leaders are born, not made.

The different historical records of that time also demonstrated this notion. Moreover, the social institutions of the time supported this notion. They offered regular people little possibilities to become political or industrial leaders.

Carlyle’s beliefs led a number of researchers to examine the efficacy of this notion in order to determine its validity. According to Carlyle’s philosophy, the motivation for leadership was as follows:

  • Certain characteristics cause certain behavioral tendencies.
  • Patterns are constant across different settings.
  • Individuals are “born” with leadership qualities.

However, these characteristics did not always indicate that the individual was a leader. The behavioral habits of leaders also varied depending on the circumstances.

2. The Behavioral Era

The Behavioral period began in the middle of the 1940s and continued until the beginning of the 1970s. The research of the time supported the notion that leadership was a train one could acquire.

The theoretical approach to this characteristic failed, leading to a pressing need to find and develop leaders during World War II.

To examine the efficacy of leaders, researchers focused on their actions. This strategy stresses the actions of a successful leader, but it does not specify who would make a good leader.

During this time, scholars classified several leadership traits designated as Leader’s Styles. Unfortunately, the trait method did not receive universal support, mostly because the eventual findings did not sufficiently represent the conduct of leaders across many cultures.

The efficiency of this style of leader was insufficient to convey the extremely complicated nature of the phrase.

3. The Contingency Era

The age of contingency leadership began in the early 1960s and continued into the 1990s. Researchers of this era felt that the personality, style, or conduct of a good leader is situation-dependent.

In the 1960s, leadership scholar Fred Fielder produced one of the earliest contingency theories. Fielder argued that every leadership style has a predetermined set of qualities. Therefore, leaders should work on tasks based on their leadership style.

Fielder’s Contingency Model assesses a leader’s efficacy, which depends on how well their style complements the circumstances.

The strategy assumes the following:

  • There is no single ideal set of attributes or behaviors for good leadership.
  • Situation and other contextual elements define the most successful style.
  • People can learn to become effective leaders.
  • Leaders have the ability to influence the performance of individuals, groups, and organizations.
  • Personal and environmental aspects can influence the efficacy of a leader.

4. The New Era

Transactional, transformational, and other theories comprise the new era of leadership. It began in the 1990s and continues to the present day.

Researchers feel that a single component of leadership is insufficient and therefore cannot account for the complexity that develops from a company’s numerous sources.

The world is continuously changing. It has grown more complicated and difficult. This New Era takes fast development, technical advancements, and growing globalization into account.

Earlier techniques were conventional and relied on leader-follower relationships. This New Era emphasizes more intricate relationships and circumstances.

This period also believes that everyone have leadership abilities. However, it may not yet be developed. Therefore, they believe in progress.

Final Thoughts

Leaders are essential due to their vision and direction. They aid management in delivering quality and enhancing performance.

Regardless of whether leadership is innate or acquired, it is necessary to recognize leaders. The study of leadership has shown a range of characteristics and skills linked to it, but remember that these differ between leaders.

Future leaders must enhance their abilities to capitalize on opportunities and guarantee that staff well-being initiatives result in work happiness.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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