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 guid