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Educational Leadership

Past and Present Theories of Leadership


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Educational Leadership

Introduction
Throughout the human history, significant importance has been placed on leadership as a
result of which various leadership theories have emerged to support the role of a leader and
define the qualities and way forward for an effective leader. Over the years, the focus of the
leadership theories has changed from differentiating between the followers and the leaders, to
highlighting variables involving of skill levels and situational factors.
Discussion
The Great Man theory tends to describe the fact that some characteristics like social
skills, intelligence, confidence and charisma tend to make natural born leaders. This theory tends
to impart the fact that leaders are not made, but are born. The underlying factor behind naming
this theory as the Great Man was because at the time of the inception of this theory, leadership
was strictly thought to be a quality possessed by male.
However, overtime Trait Theories came into existence which highlighted that behavioral
characteristics and particular personality traits that defined leadership. For example, it suggested
that traits like courage, self-confidence and extraversion is shared among all leaders. However,
the theory failed to analyze how in some individuals who shared their traits never sought
positions pertaining to leadership.
As the ideology pertaining to leadership evolved, contingency theories came into
existence. These theories focused on specific variables that sought to define how the style of
leadership changed according to the situation (Preedy et al., 2003, p.21). These theories
determined that success is not determined by a particular style of leadership, but the situation at
hand defines how the style of leadership should be altered to elicit the best results.

Educational Leadership

Whereas, the situational theories suggested that the actions of the leaders are not
predefined, but are primarily based upon the situational variables. It suggested that certain types
of decision making requires certain types of leadership styles. For example, in a situation where
the group members might be more skilled regarding a particular aspect, a democratic style of
leadership would work best. But, in a situation where the users might not be well aware of the
situation, the authoritarian style would work best.
However, Behavioral theories are considered to be a flipside of the Great Man theories.
These theories shared the idea that the internal states or the mental qualities of the leaders do not
play such an important role, but the actions of the leaders play an important role (Preedy et al.,
2003, p.23). Contrary to what the Great Man theory suggested, behavioral theory places
importance on learning the skills which make a great leader and states that through observations
and teaching great leaders can be made.
Participative leadership theories on the other hand suggested that in order for leadership
to be ideal, others input need to be incorporated. Such theories encourage the leaders to
encourage contribution and participation from the group members and this way they make their
group members feel more committed and relevant in the decision making process. However, the
right to retain the input from others remains with the leader.
The management theories, which are also known by the name of transactional theories,
tend to focus on group performance and the role of supervision in an organization. There theories
form their basis on punishment and reward system. Thus, when employees are successful in their
pursuit, they are rewarded whereas when they fail to achieve their prescribed goals, they are
punished accordingly.

Educational Leadership

Lastly, transformational theories which are also known as relationship theories tend to
focus on the connections which are formed between the followers and the leaders. Such
transformational leaders tend to inspire and motivate people by focusing on the task and the
higher good of the matter at hand. Thus, while focusing on performance, such leaders also
highlight the potential of their followers. Such leaders are also known for having high moral and
ethical standards.
Understanding the role of leaders from the perspective of various leaders, it is
understandable that that future role of a leader would need to utterly ad hoc in its approach. The
pace at which the modern world of business is evolving, a leader/manger would need to be alert
of all the current changes and act accordingly. Thus, judging by the situation that the leader is
faced with, the leadership style, role and scope would need to be altered to ensure success in the
task. Moreover, emphasis should be placed on educational leadership, since such a leadership
program focuses on the role of the school leaders and the way they go about proving the learning
and the teaching on the aspects pertaining to the relationship between the outcome of the
students and the types of leadership.

Conclusion
The past theories of leadership will tend to hold little value in the future as the scope of
leadership and the context of the business world has evolved many folds. The role of a leader and
manager would be more of a influencer who seeks to elicit a particular sort of response and
results from the subordinates, while making sure that they effectively keep up pace with the
changing environment and simultaneously ensuring that the motivation level of all the employees

Educational Leadership
is kept high. Thus, in short the future role of the leader/manager would be a form of mixture of
all the leadership theories so far.

Educational Leadership

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References

Preedy, M., Glatter, R., & Wise, C. (Eds.).(2003). Strategic leadership and educational
improvement (Vol. 2).Sage.