Theories provide a basis for understanding different phenomena and enhance the development and application of knowledge. Leadership theories explain the concept of leadership from various perspectives, determining its traits and the nature of the relationship between the leaders and their followers. Since there are divergent views of leadership, several theories have developed, with each focusing on different leadership aspects. Leaders can choose the leadership theory in order to adopt and use it in their organizations based on its appeal to their personal traits, values, and goals. However, even though organizational leaders may have favorite theories, it is essential for them to examine the context to which these theories will be applied before choosing the most appropriate. Such precaution emerges from the fact that context can hinder the application of certain leadership theories and promote the use of others. Successful organizational leaders choose those leadership theories that fit their operational context. The theory chosen by a leader also determines the type of organizational culture and the ability of an organization to achieve its goals. The leadership concepts and theories learned throughout the leadership program have influenced my personal leadership approach, philosophy, and the spheres of their application, since they have provided vital knowledge that will guide my leadership choices in organizational settings.
Chosen Leadership Theories
The leadership theories that have had a profound effect on my leadership philosophy and approach include the authentic, the transformational, and the servant leadership.The characteristics and the effects of each theory in regard to the organization and its followers have shaped my leadership philosophy.
Authentic Leadership Theory
Authentic leaders have their personal experiences and beliefs and behave according to them. The leadership theory has become essential in modern organizations because of unethical behaviors in corporations witnessed in recent years (Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing & Peterson, 2008). Such behaviors have created a gap between what leaders say and what they do. Consequently, firms are marred with mistrust, which has a negative impact on the affected firms in ways such as loss of earnings, inadequate performance, and reputation damage. Therefore, authentic leadership emerged as an answer to such malpractices.
Authentic leadership comprises four components that include self-awareness, balanced processing, relational transparency, and internalized moral perspective. The self-awareness aspect of authentic leaders defines the leaders’ ability to understand how they perceive the world (Ilies, Morgeson & Nahrgang, 2005). Balanced processing means that leaders can assess information without bias when making decisions. The relational transparency refers to how authentic leaders present themselves to others without hiding their weaknesses or strengths, in order to cultivate trust. According to Harter and Evanecky (2002), the followers can question leadership when the leader is perceived as unfair. The relational transparency can eliminate such perception of unfairness by portraying the leader as sincere. The internalized moral perspective defines the ability of the authentic leader to self-regulate their behavior by using integrated values and moral standards. It is evident that authentic leadership has positive and long-lasting effects on corporations, while authentic leaders have the capacity to inspire their followers to reach high levels of self-esteem, performance, psychological welfare, friendliness, engagement, and citizenship behaviors. The primary goal of any leader is to promote the welfare of all the stakeholders through the enhanced organizational performance. Followers with high self-esteem levels are highly productive, because they have the confidence to set high-value targets and to achieve them. Additionally, such workers are highly motivated, which can result in effective performance. Psychological well-being and friendliness promote collaboration, which leads to innovations. The employee engagement elicits commitment, while citizenship behaviors foster corporate social responsibility. The characteristics, the components, and the effects of the authentic leadership on the followers and organizations make the authentic leadership theory vital to my leadership philosophy.
Authentic leadership can be of critical importance when a corporation is facing the need to change. Although change may be beneficial to a firm, the employees are likely to resist it for various reasons, such as the uncertainty that change brings and the possibility of losing their jobs or control over the situation. When there is an imminent change, mistrust may emerge between the leaders advocating for it and the employees. Therefore, authentic leadership can be essential in re-establishing trust. The relational transparency aspect of the authentic leaders can help the facilitation of the process of change by ensuring that there is transparent sharing of information among all the stakeholders (Ilies, Morgeson & Nahrgan, 2005). Maintaining an open communication channel can help the authentic leaders address the fears of those resisting change, empowering them to deal with it.
Transformational Leadership Theory
Transformational leaders derive their power and influence from deeply held value systems. The outward expression of such values modifies followers’ behavior, aspirations, and goals, and unites them. Transformational leadership’s behavioral modification capabilities empower the leaders to convince their followers to forego their personal interests and focus on the overall success of the organization. Transformational leaders fuse their goals and visions with those of the followers and of the organization, which helps to produce the optimal results for everyone (Humphreys, 2005). The leaders understand that their success depends on their followers’ efforts and motivation. As such, they influence the followers’ behavior through intellectual stimulation, charisma, inspirational motivation, and individual consideration.
Transformational leaders stimulate the intellect of their followers by promoting rationality, problem-solving skills, intelligence, and logical thinking (Humphreys, 2005). They educate the followers, aiming to make them view challenges as problems that require solutions in order to achieve the intellectual stimulation. Providing guidance to the followers on how to seek information to solve the problems motivates and inspires them. Additionally, the leaders encourage the followers to seek new ways of solving the current and old problems. Given the dynamic nature of modern organizational environments, the ability to develop new problem-solving skills and approaches is critical. Therefore, intellectually-stimulated followers can adapt to the changes in the environment and thus ensure the survival of their firms.
Transformational leaders use charisma by reflecting behaviors that inspire the followers to commit to their vision and to trust them. According to Fuller (2015), charisma is attributed to the leaders by the followers as a result of the leaders’ exhibiting certain characteristics and behaviors. Transformational leaders understand the behaviors that are likely to elicit the attribution of charisma, and they apply them. The transformational leadership theory portrays a leader as a person who focuses on improving the qualities of the followers so they could achieve both personal and organizational goals. According to the theory, the leaders create an ideal future vision and articulate it to the followers in ways that instill pride in them, fostering the urge to share the leaders’ vision. As a result of the leaders’ charisma, the followers develop trust and respect for them, which enables the leaders to influence the followers’ actions.
The inspirational motivation of transformational leaders emerges when they communicate their expectations eloquently and use symbols. They inspire motivation by simplifying goals in ways that the followers can understand (Humphreys, 2005). When the followers understand the expectations, they can focus their efforts on efficient ways of ensuring the satisfaction of such expectations. Therefore, communication is essential in inspiring motivation.
One of the most critical elements of transformational leadership is individual consideration. Transformational leaders understand that the followers have different needs and capabilities (Humphreys, 2005). Thus, they are aware of the fact that harnessing such capabilities and fulfilling the followers’ needs have the potential to multiply productivity and the achievement of organizational goals. Therefore, the leaders mentor and coach individual followers to ensure the optimization of their potential. They also address the problems the each follower faces, which makes them appear caring. When the followers perceive leaders as considerate, they can apply the additional efforts that are above their normal performance level. Consequently, such efforts magnify the performance and make the transformational leadership effective. Consequently, individual consideration makes transformational leaders caring and evokes the need within the workers to show appreciation through additional efforts.
The influence of transformational leaders is effective across corporations, and it can help to navigate turbulence which emerges from the external environment. Establishing a powerful organizational culture is crucial because such culture can help organizations adapt to changes in the external environment (Fuller, 2015). For instance, creating an innovative culture requires the organizational leaders to empower employees and give them freedom to experiment without retribution if failure occurs. Since transformational leaders provide individual consideration and intellectual stimulation, they are best suited to support an innovative culture that can assure organizational sustainability.
The Servant Leadership theory
Servant leaders focus on the needs of others instead of their owns. Servant leadership is an appropriate leadership approach in the modern organizations because of the conflicts of interests that occur among the various stakeholders. The management is likely to take actions that may increase their benefits at the expense of others, such as the shareholders and employees (Northouse, 2012). Such conflicts lead to scandals, collapse of organizations, and job losses in many countries. The selfishness of those who perpetrate the unethical behaviors thus requires approaches that would curb them and prioritize other people’s needs, which is exactly what happens in servant leadership. Servant leadership is based on four tenets, which include followers’ nourishment, service before self, trust creation, and listening to others.
Followers’ nourishment focuses on improving the capabilities of others in order to become a servant leader. According to Wu (2013), behavioral modification can occur when others observe the benefits of such modification. As such, when servant leaders demonstrate selflessness and provide guidance to others, they encourage the followers to adopt servant leadership as well, which increases the number of servant leaders. The service before self establishes the foundation of the servant leadership theory by providing the direction a servant leader should take. The tenet emphasizes that all the actions of a leader should be guided by the needs of other people, and the personal needs should be considered afterward. The servant leader creates trust by showing personal trustworthiness. One of the methods that the leader uses to demonstrate trustworthiness is sharing the information with the followers. In some leadership styles, leaders exercise their power by restricting the flow of information within organizational structures. However, servant leaders share all information with the followers freely, regardless of whether it is negative or positive. Consequently, the followers feel valued and thus develop trust toward the leader. Servant leaders are careful listeners and provide the followers with an opportunity to express their ideas. The leaders also solicit knowledge and information, which increases the followers’ participation in the decision-making process. The followers’ participation enhances their efficacy and confidence, which may improve their productivity levels. Servant leadership can help to solve some of the challenges that organizations face. For instance, the use of teams has become commonplace in many firms, aimed to create synergy among various individual capabilities. However, teams can be dysfunctional when individual members attempt to advance their personal agendas at the expense of the team (Georgiadis, 2015). Adopting a servant leadership approach can influence team members to focus on others before themselves, which can quell wrangles within teams and lead to their success.
Personal Leadership Philosophy/Approach
My personal leadership philosophy is situational leadership, which has emerged after regarding various aspects of other leadership theories. From the leadership program, I have learned the tenets of the most widely used theories and chose three of them in order to develop a personal leadership philosophy. These three leadership theories include the authentic, the transformational, and the servant leadership. To understand my personal leadership philosophy, it is imperative to explore what it entails, as well as its connection to the three of the mentioned leadership theories. The analysis of the situational leadership model by Blanchard and Hersey regarded below and the way I currently incorporate the three theories from the learning program into my leadership philosophy will demonstrate that the theories have had an impact on my choice. In situational leadership approach, a leader adjusts the leadership style depending on the prevailing conditions. My choice of situational leadership has been inspired by the knowledge that organizational environments are dynamic and require constant change. The only leadership approach that can provide a leader with an adequate flexibility is the situational leadership (Wu, 2013). Some of the conditions that influence the need to adjust leadership styles include the level of the employee development. As such, leadership styles keep changing under situational leadership philosophy in order to respond to the changing needs of others, as well as to the organizational situations. The situational leadership approach developed by Blanchard and Hersey uses four styles, depending on the development stage of the followers. They include the telling, the selling, the participating, and the delegating styles.
The Telling Style
The leaders using the telling style make the decisions and communicate them to the followers. Close supervision and provision of directions is part of the style. In my leadership philosophy, some of the principles of transformational leadership I apply when using the telling style include inspirational motivation, which is essential to express the objectives (Northouse, 2012). The articulation can create an understanding of what is expected of the followers, since inspirational motivation depends on the communication of expectations.
The Selling Style
The leaders create objectives and roles for the followers — however, they also encourage them to provide their own opinions and suggestions. The leaders’ aim is to sell their ideas in order to gain cooperation from the followers (Perna, 2016). The leaders cannot gain cooperation when the followers do not trust them. As such, my approach when using the selling style entails the use of some aspects of servant leadership, such as demonstrating personal trustworthiness by sharing information honestly, aimed to build the trust with the followers. Secondly, my leadership philosophy involves the use of the listening element of servant leadership in order to solicit the followers’ opinions, which can improve their confidence.
The Participating Style
In terms of the participating style, leaders take part in the decision-making process while the followers make the ultimate choice. The limited involvement of the leaders indicates a change in situation, such as followers’ increased motivation and competencies (Perna, 2016). As such, my philosophy uses some of the authentic leadership components in order to determine the level of participation. Balanced processing is one of the components of servant leadership, where a leader is expected to analyze information and situations objectively before making a decision. Therefore, the use of balanced processing helps me determine the level of participation to obtain optimal results.
The Delegating Style
The leaders using the delegating style do not get involved in the wok process and leave the decisions to the employees entirely. The leaders may provide the required resources, but they avoid the direct involvement in daily operations (Northouse, 2012). Such a ‘hands-off’ approach is a sign that the followers have the highest motivation and capabilities to perform the required tasks. My leadership philosophy utilizes the nourishing aspect of servant leadership in order to help the followers further develop as leaders and thus reduces the need for them to go through various styles of leadership when given new projects or assignments.
Personal Application of Leadership Theories and Approach
The leadership theories and personal approach have numerous applications. I plan to use authentic leadership to obtain the effective results in my future workplace. According to Northouse (2012), authentic leadership has the capacity to improve the return on investment and the followers’ commitment. By demonstrating my true values of selflessness and commitment to the highest ideals, I will motivate the followers to adopt similar values and commit to the organization. Commitment is essential, because it will reduce employee turnover and the consequent costs of replacement and training. Furthermore, I will promote attractive returns on investment. Organizational culture has an impact on the performance of the entire organization because it sets the values and aspirations of all the internal stakeholders. The right values can create a strong organizational culture that enhances productivity and employee motivation. Since authentic leadership strives to encourage trustworthiness and openness, it will be ideal in establishing future organizational cultures at my workplace.
Transformational leadership is one of the most widely used leadership theories in the world because of its ability to motivate and promote the growth of the followers. According to Kendrick (2011), transformational leadership is suitable in dynamic work environments where change is a common phenomenon. I anticipate that my future workplace will require me to implement changes to ensure sustainability of the organization. As such, I will use transformational leadership to intellectually stimulate the followers, helping them become rational and logical thinkers, and to develop the new methods of addressing the existing problems. Such employees will have the willingness to reasonably assess change initiatives and they will support them instead of resisting. I also plan to use inspirational motivation to clearly outline the benefits of change initiatives. I will ensure that the goals of the change are connected to those of the employees by communicating them clearly and simply. Therefore, my future workplace will have highly motivated followers who are ready to support any change. As a result, the firm for which I will work will be sustainable, as it will be innovative enough to adapt to environmental changes.
Servant leadership will be one of the leadership theories I will use when dealing with teams. According to Georgiadis (2015), although teams have the potential to improve organizational performance, the individual needs of the members may override the overall team objectives. The strengths of a team come from the synergy created by combining the expertise and efforts of all the members. However, team members may have personal goals that could limit their ability to support the goals of the team. The best way to promote the effective performance of teams is to use the servant leadership theory. Servant leaders are selfless and show commitment to essential values while attempting to make others become leaders as well through the followers’ nourishment component of the servant leadership. Therefore, I plan to use servant leadership to promote the notion that service before self-interests is the best approach to work within teams. Since I will demonstrate servant leadership on practice, the team members will be able to identify with servant leadership and thus adopt it to increase team efficiency.
My personal leadership approach will be applicable in any future work settings because I will decide which leadership theory to apply under specific circumstances. According to Perna (2016), there is no single leadership theory that can address problems in all situations. As such, situational leadership approach will be essential in determining the appropriate leadership theory under certain circumstances. For instance, in dynamic work environments, the best leadership theory to use is the transformational leadership, while in static environments, the application of servant leadership is ideal. Using the situational leadership philosophy will provide me with flexibility to respond to the various needs of the organization and the employees. For instance, a strategy may be excellent in one market, but not in the other. Without situational leadership, an organization may fail to adjust to different market conditions. Therefore, the firm may continue using strategies in a market where they are not working because of the lack of flexibility. The situational leadership approach can help managers adjust to the strategies under the unique conditions in a market, which is likely to increase their chances of success. Therefore, I will use situational leadership approach to determine the suitability of leadership theories and strategies in different situations.
The leadership theories and concepts from the learning program have had a significant impact on my choice of leadership philosophy, since they have highlighted conditions and characteristics suitable for the application of certain theories. The theories that have had the greatest impact on my leadership approach include the authentic, the transformational, and the servant leadership. The use of the authentic leadership helps to improve the followers’ self-esteem, performance, psychological well-being, friendliness, engagement, and citizenship characteristics. Furthermore, authentic leadership can help corporations implement changes. The transformational leadership modifies the behavior of the followers and links the goals of the leaders with that of the followers and organization for overall success. The elements of transformational leadership include intellectual stimulation, charisma, inspirational motivation, and individual consideration. Using transformational leadership can assist the firms in creating an innovative organizational culture. The servant leadership insists on service to others as the overriding principle. The servant leadership comprises components such as followers’ nourishment, service before self, trust creation, and listening. Organizations can benefit from servant leadership because it can help them empower teams to succeed. My personal leadership philosophy is situational leadership — an approach that uses the telling, the selling, the participating, and the delegating styles. My plan to apply authentic leadership in the future aims to increase the employee commitment, return on investment, and to establish a strong organizational culture. The future use of transformational leadership will promote change initiatives and reduce employee resistance. My servant leadership approach will target the promotion of team efficiency.