(Online Course) Pub Ad for IAS Mains: Chapter: 3 Administrative Behavior - Theories of Leadership (Paper -1)

Paper - 1
Chapter: 3 (Administrative Behavior)

Theories of Leadership

A successful organization has some major attributes that set it apart from an unsuccessful organization: dynamic and effective leadership. The success of every organization is depending upon the quality of its leadership. A business organization can take up several tasks such as determining the subjective of the enterprises designing the methods to achieve them; directing and coordinating the activities of various departments, etc. can be successfully performed only if there is an able leader.

G.R. Terry says, “The will to do is triggered by leadership and lukewarm desires for achievement are transformed into burning passion for successful accomplishment by the skilful use of leadership”.

Stodgily observes there are almost as many definition of leadership as there are people who had tried to define it; but leadership is too complex and too variable a phenomenon to be captured in any definition.

Peter Ducker defines, “Leadership is the lifting of man’s visions to higher standard, the building of man’s personality beyond its normal limitations”.

Alford and Beatty define leadership “as the ability to secure desirable actions from a group of followers voluntarily without the use of coercion.”

Keith Davis - Leadership is the ability to persuade others to seek defined objectives, enthusiastically. It is the human factor, which binds a group together and motivates it toward goals.

Koontz and Weihricj - leadership is defined as the influence the art or process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically toward the achievement of group goals. Leaders act to help a group attain objectives through the maximum application of its capabilities. They do not stand behind a group to push and prod; they place themselves before the group as they facilitate progress and inspire the group to accomplish organisational goals.”

Ingredients of leadership

Leaders envision the future; they inspire organization members and chart the course of organization. Chrysler’s Lee Iacocca and General Electric’s Jack Welch have provided a vision - leaders must instill values whether it is concern for quality, honesty, and calculated risk taking or for employees and customers.
Every group of people that performs near its total capacity has some person as its head who is skilled in the art of leadership. This skill seems to be a compound at least four major ingredients:

  1. the ability to use power effectively and in a responsible manner,

  2. the ability to comprehend that human beings have different motivation forces at different times and in different situations,

  3. the ability to inspire, and

  4. the ability to act in a manner that will depend a climate conducive to responding to and arousing motivations.

The first ingredient of leadership is power the nature of power and the differences between power and the authority, how he/she performs. The second ingredient of leadership is a Fundamental understanding of people. To understand the motivation forces, nature and systems of motivation but most important is to apply this knowledge to people and situations. The third ingredient is the rare ability to inspire followers to apply their full capabilities to a project. While the use of motivators seems to center to subordinates and their needs, inspiration also comes from group heads. They may have qualities of charm and appeal that give rise to loyalty, devotion and a strong desire on the part. of followers to promote what leaders want. It is a matter of people giving unselfish support to a chosen champion.

The last ingredient of leadership has to do with the style of the leader and the climate he/she develops. Awareness of expectancies perceived rewards, the amount of effort believed to be required, the task to be done etc., have lead to a considerable research on leadership behaviour. The primary tasks of managers are the design and maintenance of an environment for performance.

Need for Leadership

Daniel Katz and Robert Kahn give the following reasons for need for leadership.

The incompleteness of formed organisational design: The formal organization is generally incomplete and imperfect. Its voids are generally filled by informal organisation. As a consequence the ‘real’ organisation widely differs from the ‘formal’ organisation. Leadership is needed to compensate for the weakness inherent in these formal designs.

Changing environment conditions: Technological, legal, cultural and many other kinds of changes necessities corresponding changes to be brought about in the organisation by leader.
The internal dynamics of the organisation: As organisation grows new complexities of structure are created, new needs for coordination arise and new policies must be invented.
The nature of human membership in organization: Human membership in an organization is segmental in nature. This means that the behavior of a person on the job is in part determined by several such forces, which are external to the organisation.
Over these forces the organization has no control. A leader is needed to introduce such characteristics.

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Functions of A -Leadership

According to Krech and Crutchfied that functions of a leader fall into three categories as described below:

1. Functions of the leader in the setting of achieving of organisation goals:

  1. Policy making

  2. Planning

  3. Execution

2. Functions of the leader in the operation of the organization are:

  1. Expert

  2. Representative of his group

  3. Controller of intra-group relationships

  4. Motivator.

3. Functions of a leader as a group figure are:

  1. Exemplar

  2. Symbol of the group

  3. Father figure

  4. Scapegoat.

Approaches to study Leadership: Leadership theories are broadly divided into following categories:

  1. Great man theories.

  2. Trait theories.

  3. Behavioral theories.

  4. Situational theories

  5. Contingency theories.

  6. Management theories

Great Man Theories

This is a traditional theory of leadership and the rest are modern theories.

Great Man Theory assumed that capacity for leadership is inherent. That means great leaders are born not made. The term G.M. was used because at the time, leadership was thought primarily as a male quality especially in terms of military leadership.

Trait Theory

It is similar to Great Man theories and assumes that people inherit certain qualities and traits which make them better suited to leadership, they identify particular personality and behavioural character should by leaders. It assumes that people who make good leaders have the right combination of traits.

People are born with inherited traits. Some traits are particularly suited to leadership. People who make good leaders have the right (or sufficient) combination of traits. Description
Early.research on leadership was based on the psychological focus of the day, which was of people having inherited characteristics or traits. Attention was thus put on discovering these traits, often by studying successful leaders, but with the underlying assumption that if other people could also be found with these traits, then they, too, could also become great leaders.
Stogdill (1974) identified the following traits and skills as critical to leaders.



Adaptable to situations Clever (intelligent)
Conceptually skilled
Alert to social environment Creative
Ambitious and achievenrent orientated Diplomatic and tactful
Knowledgeable about group task
Assertive  Fluent in speaking
Cooperative Organised (administrative ability)
Decisive Persuasive
Dependable Socially skilled
Dominant (desire to influence others)  
Energetic (high activity level)
Tolerant of stress
Willing to assume responsibility

McCall and Lonmbardo (1983) researched both success and failure identified four primary traits by which leaders could succeed-or ‘derail’:

  • Emotional stability and composure: Calm, confident and predictable, particularly when under stress.

  • Admitting error: Owning up to mistakes, rather than putting energy into covering up.

  • Good interpersonal skills: Able to communicate and persuade others .Without resort to negative or coercive tactics.

  • Intellectual breadth: Able to understand a wide range of areas, rather than having a narrow (and narrow-minded) area of expertise.

It was criticized been of following reasons:

  1. It failed to provide common reduction of leadership trait.

  2. It does not indicate the comparative important of different traits.

  3. It failed to recognize the influence off situated factors.

    1. Visionary
    2. Courage
    3. Conclusion
    4. Moral value.

Behavioral Theories

They are based on assumption that great leaders are made not born. It focused on the actions of leaders, not on mental qualities or internal states. People can leaders through teaching and observation. Successful leadership is based on definable and learnable behaviour.

Behavioral theories of leadership do not seek inborn traits or capabilities. Rather, they look at what leaders actually do. If success can be defined in terms of describable actions, then it should be relatively easy for other people to act in the same way. This is easier to teach and learn their to adopt the more ephemeral ‘traits’ or ‘capabilities’.

Behavioral is a big leap from Trait Theory, in that it assumes that leadership capability can be learned, rather than being inherent. This opens the floodgates to leadership development, as opposed to simple psychometric assessment that sorts those with leadership potential from those who will never have the chance.
A behavioural theory is relatively easy to develop, as you simply assess both leadership success and the actions of leaders. With a large enough study, you can then-correlate statistically significant’ behaviors with success. You can also identify behaviors which contribute to failure, thus adding, a second layer of understanding.

The Managerial Grid
This was developed by Black and Mouton in early 1960’s. It is based on two important variables concern for production and concern for people.

Based on these two variables leadership traits were divided into 5 categories:

  1. Impoverished Management. This style of leadership has low concern both for production and people.

  2. Authority compliance. They focus on efficiency with little concern for people. It is high task or production but low on people.

  3. Country Club Management. They have core and concern for people with a comfortable an I friendly environment and colloquial style. It has high concern for people and low concern for production.

  4. Middle on Road Management. It has big balance of focus on both people and the work doing enough to get things done, but not pushing the boundaries of what may be possible. It has moderate concern for both people and practice.

  5. Team Management. The people are committed to task and leader is committed to gole. Here leadership has high concern for production as well as people.

This is a well-known grid the uses the Task vs. Person preference that appears in many other lies, such as the Michigan Leadership Studies and the Ohio State Leadership studies Many otter [ask-people models and variants have appeared since then. They are both clearly important dimensions, but as other models point out, they are not all there is to leadership and management.

The Manager Grid was the original name. It later changed to the Leadership Grid.

Kurt Lewin's Leadership Theory

Kurt Lewin along with his colleagues conducted experiment on leadership in 1939 and had identified and different styles of leadership around decision making.

  1. Autocratic Leadership. Here the leadership takes decisions without consulting others. This style works when there is no need for input on the decision and also when the decision would not change as a result of output. The motivation of people to carry out actions would not -be affected whether they are part of decision making process of not. He found that this style of leadership caused the most level of discontent within organization.

  2. Democratic Leadership. In this style of leadership, leader involves the people in decision making process but the final decision is taken by leader himself. This process facilitates consensus within organization and ensures active participation by the people. This can be a problematic process if there is wide range of opinions among followers.

The laissez-faire style is to minimize the leader’s involvement in decision-making, and hence allowing people to make their own decisions, although they may still be responsible for the outcome.
Laissez-faire works best when people are capable and motivated in making their own decisions, and where there is no requirement for a central coordination, for example in sharing resources across a range of different people and groups.

In Lewin et al’s experiments, he discovered that the most effective style was Democratic. Excessive autocratic styles led to revolution, whilst under a Laissez-faire approach, people were not coherent in their work and did not put in the energy that they did when being actively led. These experiments were actually done with groups of children, but were early in the modern era and were consequently highly influential.

Likert’s leadership styles

Rensis Likert identified four main styles of leadership, in particular around decision­making and the degree to which people are involved in the decision.

Exploitive authoritative
In this style, the leader has a low concern for people and uses such methods as threats and other fear-based methods to achieve conformance. Communication is almost entirely downwards and the psychologically distant concerns of people are ignored.

Benevolent authoritative
When the leader adds concern for people to an authoritative position, a ‘benevolent dictatorship’ is formed. The leader now uses rewards to encourage appropriate performance and listens more to concerns lower down the organization, although what they hear is often rose-tinted, being limited to what their subordinates think that the boss wants to hear. Although there may be some delegation of decisions, almost all major decisions are still made centrally.

The upward flow of information here is still cautious and rose-tinted to some degree, although the leader is making genuine efforts to listen carefully to ideas. Nevertheless, major decisions are still largely centrally made.

At this level, the leader makes maximum use of participative methods, engaging people lower down the organization in decision-making. People across the organization are psychologically closer together and work well together at all levels.

This is a classic 1960s view in that it is still very largely top-down in nature, with the cautious addition collaborative elements towards the Utopian final state.

Situational Leadership

Under situational leadership leaders choose the best course of action based upon situation variables. These variables include motion levels of employees and capabilities of followers. D.M. styles of leadership may be more application for certain types of D.M. They also depend on the relation between the leader and the follower.

The best action of the leader depends on a range of situational factors.

Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership

It is based on assumption that leader should adopt their style to followers based on how ready and willing the follower is to perform required tasks. Leaders should adapt their style to follower development style (or ‘maturity’), based on how ready and willing the follower is to perform required tasks (that is, their competence and motivation). There are four leadership styles (SI to S4) that match the development levels (DI to D4) of the followers. The four styles suggest that leaders should put greater or less focus on the task in question and/or the relationship between the leader and the follower, depending on the development level of the follower.

S1 : Telling - Follower: R1: Low competence, low commitment / Unable and unwilling or insecure Leader: High task focus, low relationship focus
When the follower cannot do the job and is unwilling or afraid to try, then the leader takes a highly directive role, telling them what to do but without a great deal of concern for the relationship. The leader may also provide a working structure, both for the job and in terms of how the person is controlled.
The leader may first find out why the person is not motivated and if there are any limitations in ability. These two factors may be linked, for example where a person believes they are less capable than they should be may be in some form of denial or other coping. They follower may also lack self-confidence as a result.
If the leader focused more on the relationship, the follower may become confused about what must be done and what is optional. The leader thus maintains a clear ‘do this’ position to ensure all required actions are clear.

S2: Selling / Coaching
Follower: R2: Some competence, variable commitment / Unable but willing or motivated
Leader: High task focus, high relationship focus
When the follower can do the job, at least to some extent, and perhaps is over­confident about their ability in this. then ‘telling’ them what to do may demotivate them or lead to resistance. The leader thus needs to ‘sell’ another way of working, explaining and clarifying decisions.
The leader thus spends time listening and advising and, where appropriate, helping the follower to gain necessary skills through coaching methods.

Note: S1 and S2 are leader-driven.

S3: Participating / Supporting
Follower: R3: High competence, variable commitment / Able but unwilling or insecure
Leader: Low task focus, high relationship focus
When the follower can do the job, but is refusing to do it or otherwise showing insufficient commitment, the leader need not worry about showing them what to do, and instead is concerned with finding out why the person is refusing and thence persuading them to cooperate.
There is less excuse here for followers to be reticent about their ability, and the key is very much around motivation. If the causes are found then they can be addressed by the leader. The leader thus spends time listening, praising and otherwise making the follower feel good when they show the necessary commitment.

S4: Delegating / Observing
Follower: R4: High competence, high commitment / Able and willing or motivated Leader: Low task focus, low relationship focus
When the follower can do the job and is motivated to do it, then the leader can basically leave them to it, largely trusting them to get on with the job although they also may need to keep a relatively distant eye on things to ensure everything is going to plan.
Followers at this level have less need for support or frequent praise, although as with anyone, occasional recognition is always welcome.

Note: S3 and S4 are follower-led. Vroom and Yetton’s Normative Model

Decision acceptance increases commitment and effectiveness of action. Participation increases decision acceptance.

Decision quality is the selection of the best alternative, and is particularly important when there are many alternatives. It is also important when there are serious implications for selecting (or failing to select) the best alternative.
Decision acceptance is the degree to which a follower accepts a decision made by a leader. Leaders focus more on decision acceptance when decision quality is more important.
Vroom and Yetton defined five different decision procedures. Two are autocratic (AI and A2), two are consultative (C1 and C2) and one is Group based (G2). Al: Leader takes known information and then decides alone.
A2: Leader gets information from followers, and then decides alone.
Cl: Leader shares problem with followers individually, listens to ideas and then decides alone.
C2: Leader shares problems with followers as a group, listens to ideas and then decides alone.
G2: Leader shares problems with followers as a group and then seeks and accepts consensus agreement.

Situational factors that influence the method are relatively logical:

  • When decision quality is important and followers possess useful information, then Al and A2 are not the best method.

  • When the leader sees decision quality as important but followers do not, then G2 is inappropriate.

  • When decision quality is important, when the problem is unstructured and the leader lacks information / skill to make the decision alone, then G2 is best.

  • When decision acceptance is important and followers are unlikely to accept anautocratic decision, then A 1 and A2 are inappropriate.

  • When decision acceptance is important but followers are likely to disagree with one another, then At, A2 and C 1 are not appropriate, because they do not give opportunity for differences to be resolved.

  • When decision quality is not important but decision acceptance is critical, then G2 is the best method.

  • When decision quality is important, all agree with this, and the decision is not likely to result from an autocratic decision then G2 is best.

Vroom and Yetton (1973) took the earlier generalized situational theories that noted how situational factors cause almost unpredictable leader behavior and reduced this to a more limited set of behaviors.
The ‘normative’ aspect of the model is that it was defined more by rational logic than by long observation.
The model is most likely to work when there is clear and accessible opinions about the decision quality importance and decision acceptance factors. However these are not always known with any significant confidence,

Path-Goal Theory of Leadership

The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership was developed to describe the way the leaders encourage and support their followers in achieving the goals they have been set by making the path that they should take clear and easy.
In particular, leaders:

  • Clarify the path so subordinates know which way to go.

  • Remove roadblocks that are stopping them going there.

  • Increasing the rewards along-the route.

Leaders can take a strong or limited approach in these. In clarifying the path, they may be directive or give vague hints. In removing roadblocks, they may scour the path or help the follower move the bigger blocks. In increasing rewards, they may give occasional encouragement or pave the way with gold.

This variation in approach will depend on the situation, including the follower’s capability and motivation, as well as the difficulty of the job and other contextual factors.

House and Mitchell (1974) describe four styles of leadership:

  • Supportive leadership: Considering the needs of the follower, showing concern for their welfare and creating a friendly working environment. This includes increasing the follower’s self-esteem and making the job more interesting. This approach is best when the work is stressful, boring or hazardous.

  • Directive leadership: Telling followers what needs to be done and giving appropriate guidance along the way. This includes giving them schedules of specific work to be done at specific times. Rewards may also be increased as needed and role ambiguity decreased (by telling them what they should be doing).
    This may be used when the task is unstructured and complex and the follower is inexperienced. This increases the follower’s sense of security and control and hence is appropriate to the situation.

  • Participative leadership: Consulting with followers and taking their ideas into account when making decisions and taking particular actions. This approach is best when the followers are expert and their advice is both needed and they expect to be able to give it.

  • Achievement-oriented leadership: Setting challenging goals, both in work and in self-improvement (and often together). High standards are demonstrated and expected. The leader shows faith in the capabilities of the follower to succeed. This approach is best when the task is complex.

Discussion: Leaders who show the way and help followers along a path are effectively ‘leading’. This approach assumes that there is one right way of achieving a goal and that the leader can sec it and the follower cannot. ‘this casts the leader as the knowing person and the follower as dependent. It also assumes that the follower is completely rational and that the appropriate methods can be deterministically selected depending on the situation.

Contingency Theory

The leader’s ability to lead is contingent upon various situational factors, including the leader’s preferred style, the capabilities and behaviors of followers and also various other situational factors.

Contingency theories are a class of behavioral theory that contends that there is no one best way of leading and that a leadership style that is effective in some situations may not be successful in others.

An effect of this is that leaders who arc very effective at one place and time may become unsuccessful either when transplanted to another situation or when the factors around them change.

This helps to explain how some leaders who seem for a while to have the ‘Midas touch’ suddenly appear to go off the boil and make very unsuccessful decisions.

Contingency theory is similar to situational theory in that there is an assumption of no simple one right way. The main difference is that situational theory tends to focus more on the behaviors that the leader should adopt, given situational factors (often about follower behavior), whereas contingency theory takes a broader view that includes contingent factors about leader capability and other variables within the situation.

Fiedler’s Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) Theory Assumptions
Leaders prioritize between task-focus and people-focus.
Relationships, power and task structure are the three key factors that drive effective styles.

Fiedler identified the a Least Preferred Co-Worker scoring for leaders by asking them first to think of a person with which they worked that they would like least to work with again, and then to score the person on a range of scales between positive factors (friendly, helpful, cheerful, etc.) and negative factors (unfriendly, unhelpful, gloomy, etc.). A high LPC leader generally scores the other person as positive and a low LPC leader scores them as negative.
High LPC leaders tend to have close and positive relationships and act in a supportive way, even prioritizing the relationship before the task. Low LPC leaders put the task first and will turn to relationships only when they are satisfied with how the work is going.

Three factors are then identified about the leader, member and the task, as follows:

  • Leader-Member Relations: The extent to which the leader has the support and loyalties of followers and relations with them are friendly and cooperative.

  • Task structure: The extent, to which tasks are standardised, documented and controlled.

  • Leader’s Position-power: The extent to which the leader has authority to assess follower performance and give reward or punishment.

The best LPC approach depends on a combination of there three. Generally, a high LPC approach is best when leader-member relations are poor, except when the task is unstructured and the leader is weak, in which a low LPC style is better.




Leader's Position-leader

Most Effective




















High LPC





High LPC





High LPC





High LPC






This approach seeks to identify the underlying beliefs about people, in particular whether the leader sees others as positive (high LPC) or negative (low LPC). The neat trick of the model is to take someone where it would be very easy to be negative about them. This is another approach that uses task- vs. people-focus as a major categorization of the leader’s style.

Transactional Leadership Assumptions

  • People are motivated by reward and punishment.

  • Social systems work best with a clear chain of command.

  • When people have agreed to do a job- a part of the deal is that they cede all authority to their manager.

  • The prime purpose of a subordinate is to do what their manager tells them to do.

The transactional leader works through creating clear structures whereby it is clear what is required of their subordinates, and the rewards that they get for following orders. Punishments are not always mentioned but they are also well-understood and formal systems of discipline are usually in place.

The early stage of Transactional Leadership is in negotiating the contract whereby the subordinate is given a salary and other benelie. and the company (and by implication the subordinate’s manager) gets authority over the subordinate.

When the Transactional Leader allocates work to a subordinate, they are considered to be fully responsible: for it, whether or not they have the resources or capability to carry it out. When things go wrong, then the subordinate is considered to be personally at fault,-and is punished for their failure (just as they are rewarded for succeeding).

The transactional leader often uses management by exception, working on the principle that if something is operating to defined (and hence expected) performance then it does not need attention. Exceptions to expectation require praise and reward for exceeding expectation, whilst some kind of corrective action is applied for performance below expectation.
Whereas Transformational Leadership has more of a ‘selling’ style, Transactional Leadership, once the contract is in place, takes a ‘telling’ style.

Transactional leadership is based in contingency, in that reward or punishment is contingent upon performance.

Despite much research that highlights its limitations, Transactional Leadership is still a popular approach with many managers. Indeed, in the Leadership vs. Management spectrum, it is very much towards the management end of the scale.

The main limitation is the assumption of ‘rational man’, a person who is largely motivated by money and simple reward, and hence whose behavior is predictable. The underlying psychology is Behaviorism, including the Classical Conditioning of Pavlov and Skinner’s Operant Conditioning. These theories are largely based on controlled laboratory experiments (often with animals) and ignore complex emotional factors and social values.

In practice, there is sufficient truth in Behaviorism to sustain Transactional approaches. This is reinforced by the supply-and-demand situation of much employment, coupled with the effects of deeper needs, as in Maslow’s Ilierarchy. When the demand for a skill outstrips the supply, then Transactional Leadership often is insufficient, and other approaches are more effective.
Bass’ Transformational Leadership Theory Assumptions

  • Awareness of task importance motivates people.

  • A focus on the team or organization produces better work.

Bass defined transformational leadership in terms of how the leader affects followers, who are intended to trust, admire and respect the transformational leader.
He identified three ways in which leaders transform followers:

  • Increasing their awareness of task importance and value.

  • Getting them to focus first on team or organizational goals, rather than their own interests.

  • Activating their higher-order needs.

Charisma is seen as necessary, but not sufficient, for example in the way that charismatic movie stars may not make good leaders. Two key charismatic effects that transformational leaders achieve is to evoke strong emotions and to cause identification of the followers with the leader. This may be through stirring appeals. It may also may occur through quieter methods such as coaching and mentoring.

Bass has recently noted that authentic transformational leadership is grounded in moral foundations that are based on four components:

  • Idealized influence

  • Inspirational motivation

  • Intellectual stimulation

  • Individualized consideration
    ...and three moral aspects:

  • The moral character of the leader.

  • The ethical values embedded in the leader’s vision, articulation, and program (which followers either embrace or reject).

  • The morality of the processes of social ethical choice and action that leaders and followers engage in and collectively pursue.

This is in contrast with pseudo-transformational leadership, where, for example, in-group/out-group ‘us and them’ games are used to bond followers to the leader.

In contrast to Burns, who sees transformational leadership as being inextricably linked with higher order values, Bass sees it as amoral, and attributed transformational skills to people such as Adolf Hitler and Jim Jones.

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