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Theories of leadership

Trait theory

This theory argues that leaders emerge and are effective because they possess certain traits. The trait
theory suggests that there is a positive correlation between the leader and intelligence, dominance,
selfconfidence, high energy level and task relevant knowledge personality characteristics and success of a

Style theory

This theory concentrates on the behavior patterns of the leader. Is one style more preferable to the leader?
If so what style should it be?

Leadership styles

A leader can be described as autocratic, democratic, and laissez faire.

1. autocratic

In the autocratic type of leadership the leader dominates and makes all the decisions without any
discussion. What has to be done and how the task is carried out is determined solely by the leader.the
autocratic style of leadership means the manager uses the authority over the subordinates to get the job
done. In this style the manager assumes that people need to be directed and guided.

2. democratic

In the democratic style, the leader discusses with is subordinates and then makes the decisions. This type
of leadership is also known as participative approach. In this style of leadership the manager allow the
subordinates to give their views before the decision is made. The subordinates can voice their opinion,
however the manager makes the final decision. The subordinates feel comfortable in this style of
leadership because they allowed to give their opinions.

3. laissez faire

In this style of leadership the manager does not really care. He does not make decisions and he is
basically not interested in the work. This is the worst type of leadership. The laissez-faire type of leader
does not bother about anything and therefore is not a good leadership style.

Which style of leadership should one choose?

The type of leadership to be applied whether autocratic or democratic depends upon the situation of the
environment and the subordinate. If the people are committed and they know the job then democratic
style is the best. However if they are new and are still learning then it is better to e autocratic rather than
democratic. Using the autocratic style does not mean that the manager has to be aggressive and scold
people all the time. It just means that he is firm and followsthe rules, regulations and guidelines strictly.
This way the subordinate will learn the job and once they know the job, he can then be democratic.
However the laissez faire type of leadership is the worst and manages should never be the laissez faire
type. it is noticed that although the productivity of the group is increased by the autocratic leader, it tends
to decline in the absence of the leader. However in the case of the democratic leader the productivity is
fairly high throughout even in the absence of the leader. In the case of this laissez faire type of a
leadership the productivity is poor throughout.

The autocratic-democratic continuum (tannembaum and Schmidt model)

This model (figure 14) is similar to the autocratic and the democratic type of leadership. There is a range
of styles from the authoritarian style to the democratic type. When he uses too much authority he the acts
like the autocratic style whereas if he discusses the issues with the subordinates the he uses the
democratic style.

Managerial grid

Managerial grid was described by Blake and Mouton (1961) and it describes two dimension of the
leadership style. The first dimension is concern for people and the second dimension concern for task or
production. It means that the leader focuses on these two dimensions and the dimension is measured on a
scale of 1 to 9. Thus a manager who scores high on the concern for task is 9, 9 style (see figure 15). This
type of leader is a good leader as he is able to get the maximum out of the staff and also please the staff.


Use of authority by the manager

Area freedom for subordinates

Manager makes decision manager sells his decision manager

presents and gets suggestions manager defines limits ask groups to make decisions

Manager permits subordinates to function within limits defined b superiors

Figure 14. the autocratic-democratic continuum (Tannenbaum and Schmidt)

The 1,1 scale is the most impoverished as this type of leader neither concerns for the people and neither
for the production. This type of manager stays out of trouble and simply passes along orders from the
A1, 9 type of leader (high concern for people but low concern for production) on the other hand is the
country club type of manager will focus more on the people and less on the production,. The manager
may try to create a secure happy environment for subordinates and assume that they therefore will be able
to achieve the organization goals.

The 9,1 type of leader (high concern for production but low concern for people) on the other hand will
concentrate on the task rather the people and he will not care for the welfare of the people. This type of
manager may use authority to pressuretheir subordinates to meet high production quotas.

The 5,5 type of manger is the middle of the road type of manager (compromise between concern for
people and concern for production) and this manager gives equal emphasis to the people component and
The work compotent. They balance the needs of the organization members and goals.

The 9, 9 type of manager tries to develop cohesive committed work groups so that both high production
and high satisfaction will result; low absenteeism and low turn over of staff. This scale I the best as the
aims for the high production and high concern for the people. Thus in the hospital environment we will
have to get the best out of the people by getting work done and we must not forget the welfare of the


1.9 country club type

9,9 team approach

5,5 middle of the road

1,1 impoverished

9,1 task orientated

Concern for production or task orientated

Figure 15: managerial grid

(adapted from R.R. Blake and J.S. Mouton, The Managerial Grid. Gulf publishing Co. 1964)
Paul Hershey and Kenneth Blanchard Model ( figure 15)

Paul Hershey and Kenneth Blanchard believed that the relationship between the leader and the staff
moves in four phases. It depends upon the maturity of the staff. Here the maturity means how well they
understand the job and whether they can do the job well. When the staff joins the hospital he may not be
well versed with the job so the leader behaves by high task and low relationship as in the figure. In this
phase the leader has to give direction to the staff. A participatory approach is also not suitable for this
phase, it has to be autocratic. In phase two as the staff begins to understand the job, the leader now still
has the high task relationship because the staff is not ready to take full responsibility. However th leaders
trust and support to the staff can be increased thus high task and high relationship. In the third phase the
staff is motivated and is able to take responsibility. The leader need not be autocratic rather he can be
democratic in his approach and can use the participatory approach. The leader still gives support and
helps the staff to take greater responsibility. In the final phase the leader can reduce the support because
the staff can take total responsibility. Thus the support given to the subordinate staff depends upon the
“maturity” of the staff. The more mature they are the less authoritative the leader has to be and vice versa.


Relationship behavior

High relationship and low task

Low task and low relationship

High task and high relationship

High task and low relationship

Task behavior low - high

Mature immature

Figure 16: management of organizational behavior. Prentice hall(1988)

Adapted from Paul Hershey and Kenneth Blanchard.