The topic of leadership and leadership styles is of great interest to psychology and there have been numerous developments and theories with the first of these dating back to the 17th century. One of the first more attractive theories of leadership is Carlyle’s “Great Man” theory, which focuses on the great personalities of history, but equates positive personalities such as Mother Teresa with negative ones such as Hitler, for which it has been heavily criticized.
What are the current understandings of leadership?
While in business management, leadership is presented as the management of people and resources to achieve results, strategic planning and the creation of competitive advantages, in psychology, the focus is on the way leaders influence and manage people to achieve the goals of the organization. In organizational psychology, a distinction is made between a manager and a leader, and in this regard is Peter Drucker’s famous quote, “…managers do the right things and leaders do the right things.”
Some of the better known models of leadership and leadership styles are the Blanchard model, the Jordan model, the Bass model, the DISC model, etc. In today’s article, we will look at the Bass model based on French and Riven, which divides leadership styles into 3 main styles: liberal (leadership through non-interference), transactional (motivation through rewards, punishments, and exchange of benefits), and transformational
Liberal leadership style
Liberal style (Laissez-faire) is leadership through non-interference. Some of the characteristics of this leadership style are passive management and avoidance of interference in followers’ decisions, autonomy and self-management. Leaders usually intervene only when important decisions are made or difficult conflicts are resolved. A negative feature of this style is that leaders make clear demands on followers, but because of the autonomy and lack of increased communication, this leads to anarchy, dysfunction and demoralization of followers over time. On the other hand, such a leadership style relies on followers being high experts in their field, which is not always achievable.
Transactional leadership style
The transactional leadership style has two substyles:
- Control, by exceptionswhere there is use of predominantly negative forms of management, through punishment in the presence of deviation from standards or failure to comply with an injunction.
- Conditional awards is a leadership style using a process of benefit exchange between leaders and followers in which followers’ efforts are exchanged for certain rewards. With this kind of leadership, the leader tries to get agreement from the followers about what should be done and what the benefit will be to the people who do it. An example of this type of transaction is a parent negotiating with a child about how much television the child can watch after piano practice. Another example of negotiating the amount of work workers must cover to be eligible for an additional bonus.
Transformational leadership style
The transformational leadership style has 4 sub-styles:
- Charismatic leadership is the emotional component that makes people follow, through their hearts. Such leaders are role models and their followers identify with them. These leaders usually have very high standards of moral and ethical conduct and can be counted on to do the right thing, which provides their followers with a vision and sense of mission.
- Inspiring motivation is characteristic of leaders who have high expectations of their followers, inspiring, through motivation to share the vision of the organization. In practice, leaders use symbols and emotional appeals for group members’ efforts to achieve higher results than they would under normal circumstances. Team spirit and performance are enhanced by this type of leadership.
- Intellectual stimulation is a style that encourages followers to be creative and innovative, and to challenge their own beliefs and values as well as those of the leader and the organization. This type of leadership supports followers as they try out new approaches and develop innovative ways of dealing with organisational problems. It encourages followers to independently consider and solve problems and challenges. An example of this type of leadership is the IT manager who encourages individual software developers to develop unique ways to solve problems.
- Attention and respect for the individual- tThis style is characteristic of leaders who provide a supportive climate in which they listen carefully to the individual needs of followers. The leader acts as a coach and counselor while trying to help followers become fully actualized. These leaders can use delegation to help followers grow through personal challenges. An example of this type of leadership is a manager who spends time and invests individual attention to each employee in a caring and unique way.