Managing People, Time and Work

How Leadership Theory Affects our Lives

Leadership theory is an important part of our everyday experience. In almost every element of our lives, there is a leader. Whether at work, play, or home, leadership is involved in one way or another. Sometimes we even get to lead ourselves. Over the past few decades, multiple leadership theories have evolved and been used to guide behavior.

Popular Leadership Theories

president-john-kennedyGreat Man Theory

In this theory, leaders are born not made. Furthermore, these leaders only take charge when the need for them is great. Of course, this was the theory long before men and women were seen as “equals” in the work place. When your research subjects are men in established leadership positions, it is easy to believe this.

Leadership Traits Theory

Again, a leader is born type of theory. Either you have the right combination of leadership traits and leadership skills or you do not. For example, you have to adapt to various situations, be intelligent, and technically skilled to name a few. Again, the basis of the theory is observation and analysis of established successful leaders.

Behavioral Theory

Finally, there is the idea that leaders are made, not born. Now it is now believed that you can be a successful leader with learnable and definable behavior. Your sex, resources and size have little to do with your leadership capabilities.

How Has Leadership Theory Changed Over Time?

As you can see, leadership theories have changed dramatically and in a positive way. Now we know that any person who can learn the skills and behavior can become a successful leader in any field.

There is no longer the idea that men alone can make great leaders as in the “great man theory”. Instead, both men and women can learn to lead successfully. Furthermore, no person is born a leader, leaders are created with training, learned skills, and defined behaviors.

What Is The Current Thinking On Leadership Issues?

Now, the thinking revolves around inspiration, passion, and vision. The “developing and selling the vision” leadership theory is very popular today. Leaders of today are required to put more energy and enthusiasm into their daily tasks. Developing relationships and connections are important factors in influencing others to support your vision. Emotional intelligence is a critical component of this.

Learning good leadership skills involves a combination of theory and activities involving many different elements of leadership. Activities include feedback, action learning, mentoring, and coaching.

Updated leadership theory

To paraphrase Yogi Bera, leading is easy; it’s getting people to follow that is the problem.

We all use our personal theories about how the world works to guide our behavior. Mostly these come about at a young age when we observe our parents or teachers getting what they want. Often we aren’t aware of our beliefs and values making up our model of the world.

As discussed, leadership theory has undergone profound changes in the last 50 years. The shift away from the command and control mentality to a more democratic one reflects changes in our society generally. Our unconscious theories haven’t necessarily kept pace. Several NLP techniques address state management, behavior change and changes of beliefs.

Many leadership theories were developed by interviewing experts who had achieved results in a particular time and context, such as Lee Iacocca.

In contrast, the NLP modeling technology observes experts, notices when changes occur, and what behaviors preceded the changes. It involves finding differences between someone who does things well and those who don’t. These behaviors include physiology, verbal and non-verbal language, voice tone and physical action.

Questioning experts involves discovering the structure of their thinking, such as their emotional states, internal dialog and pictures. For example in a study modeling sharpshooters, it was found that excellent shooters shot in the pause between heartbeats.

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