What is the best leadership theory

Best Known Leadership Theories That You Must Master In 2021

There is a popular saying that a good leader is never born, but they are made. Though there have been quite a few debates going on regarding this saying, some said, a leader is a leader by birth, and others used to say a leader cannot be a good leader unless they learn from their own experience in practice. But in today’s time, whether you are a born leader or you want to become a great leader afterward, you will always need to have a clear concept about what is the best leadership theory out there.

Due to not following or having a proper understanding of the current leadership theories, is probably the reason many talented people end up their career as only a follower rather than becoming a great leader. And looking at our business world already being in great shortage of good leaders.

So now the researchers have come up with several leadership theories, that reveal certain behaviors. Later on, leaders can adopt this to sharpen up their skills to become professional leaders later on.

So this makes it essential to know the real idea of the ongoing leadership theories. And this is for anyone thinking about leading a team successfully. And so today’s post will be all about understanding the best theory of leadership. Also, we will discuss all the key leadership theories that current thought-out leaders need to acquire in order to brush up on their leadership capabilities.

What is The Best Leadership Theory in 2021?

best leadership theory

In simple words, if followed, the best leadership theory shows or guides a leader to overcome any hurdles and challenges at any point in time while leading a team. And the leadership theories that we will be highlighting in this post, will allow any new or old leaders to find out what kind of leaders they really are by analyzing their current leadership style.

Moreover, this will help them scrutinize their performance as a leader. And this would be able to make them realize where they are going wrong and how they can manage their team more efficiently.

The top ten common leadership theories that have changed the way we look at leadership today include:

  1. The Great Man Theory of Leadership
  2. The Trait Theory of Leadership
  3. The Skills Theory of Leadership
  4. The Style Theories of leadership
  5. The Situational Theory of Leadership
  6. Contingency Theory of Leadership
  7. Transactional Leadership Theory
  8. Transformational Theory of Leadership
  9. Leader-Member Exchange Theory
  10. Power & Influence Leadership Theory

Major Leadership Theories That All Team Leaders Should Master In

Now that we know the top leadership theories, so let’s know in brief detail about the key leadership theories that every team manager/leader should master to turn themselves into effective leaders to run their team like a well-oiled engine.

1. Contingency Theory

Business contingency plan

The main point of this theory implies that there isn’t any singular best way to lead anything. Like the other theories in this list, this theory isn’t directly actionable. It is more like an instrumental form of leadership theories.

Moreover, this theory asserts that the leadership style of a leader is only effective as long as it fits the situation. The estimation of this is done through the assessment of their leadership style within the company. After that, they match their style with the ones that complement their styles the most.

It mostly assumes that your leadership styles are largely set due to the contingency theory needing to match them based on the situations that best suit them. Meaning you are not really trying to make the leader’s styles adapt to the situations rather you are trying to identify that specific style in which they already fit well.

The company can create a leadership map once the assessment of the leadership style is done. It is mainly assessed based on three criteria like The relationship between the leader and employee (Leader-Member relation), How the task is set up by the leader (Task Structure), and The difference in power between the leader and the employees or followers (Positional Power).

Contingency theory is, therefore, more suitable for large companies that have an assemblage of leaders and projects to handle.

Also Read: Business continuity, disaster recovery & contingency plan

2. Behavioural Theory

How to handle bad behaviour

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are two different sets of people. One who thinks leaders are made through experiences and developing skills while the other one believes that they are born. Well, when it comes to explaining the idea of a behavioral theory of leadership, it mostly sides with the camp that believes leaders are made.

Therefore in this theory, one neglects, the qualities that set the natural leaders to stand out in the crowd while comparing them with their equivalents. This theory supports more of those actionable leaders and weighs its belief on the fact that people are able to learn from their experience, observations, and develop their behavior & skills to turn them into good leaders one day.

Moreover, it considers the efficient leadership approach of a person to be the outcome of their many solid or gained skills. Which makes its conviction of any individual can acquire the learnings to become a good leader even more evident.

3. Situational Theory

The Situational theory of leadership inspires the leader to enact by critically dissecting the circumstances. In a more clear sense, it encourages the idea of changing leadership style or approach based on the situation rather than fixing yourself into one common method.

Moreover, it stretches the essentiality of variables in situations. And it doesn’t believe that one single type of leadership style can be better than the others. So based on its theory, different situations necessitate different leadership styles and decision-making. A responsible leader must act assessing the overall situations and make adjustments in his approach based on that.

4. Trait Theory

There are inheritance and traits of some leadership qualities that set them apart from other leaders in some common scenarios. These are the capabilities that impel them with the status of leadership. And the conception of trait theory mainly concentrates on these various traits of leadership personalities.

best leadership traits

A great leader generally possesses the characteristics like confidence, integrity, and commitment. And one can easily confine the scope of the leaders by linking them with only certain skills & qualities. Think about those people who have all these qualities but are not leaders. And there are people who don’t hold any of these qualities but yet leading a team well.

So therefore the theory of traits leadership implies that leaders that lack natural-born traits lag behind the leaders with traits. And this makes them more suitable for the role of a leader as well.

Moreover, the theory also points out specific attributes of a leader like the sense of responsibility, cleverness, creativity, answerability of their team members. This enables an individual to shine in the field of leadership. As the greatest leader is not the one that does the greatest things but makes the team members realize their strength and motivates them to do the greatest things. But it also has its share of flaws as well, as it doesn’t provide a leadership list of traits conclusively.

Also read: 10 Pro Tips To Become Great Leader & Manage Your Team

5. Transformational Theory

which is the best leadership theory

This theory perpetuates the thought of a leader gaining trust and commitment through inspiring, motivating, and caring for them towards a definite vision. Simply said, leaders, in this case, get results by transforming the environment & their bond with the followers.

The stronger the bond they have with their followers the better will be the result. Moreover, due to having a good relationship, the team members stay on the same page with the motivation & inspiration of the leader.

More so, the transformational leader normally tends to have flying ethical & moral values. And at any point in time, they wouldn’t want to compromise with these values irrespective of their situation. At any cost, they would want to achieve their goal. And at the same time, they would want each of their team member to perform & contribute to their own potential.

6. Transactional Theory

It also refers to management theories or exchange leadership theories of leadership that have the thought of people following the leader according to its management style. Moreover, this is done inside a mixture of rewards & incentives or in some cases punishments.

The theory revolves around the role of administration, planning & teamwork. More so, the basis of its leadership actions considers rewards and punishment. And its leadership style uses rewards and punishments as part of motivating the employees. Also, according to this theory, the leader is able to motivate the team member by concentrating more on their own self-interest.

A common thread that it highlights is that there is no implication of leader-team having a strong bond between them. At the same time, the biggest flaw of this theory is thinking that with reward and punishment, you can motivate or reform anyone and everyone.

Having said that, for any leader, this theory is probably one of the easiest to apply. But it is more useful and effective for the team that orchestrates tasks with minimal creative input.

7. The Great Man Theory

Best leadership qualities

It is probably one of the first leadership theories to be penned down. And this theory indicates the idea of a great leader is born and not developed. It is quite the opposite of behavioral theory as we can see as it works on two simple assumptions of Great leaders that are born & not made and the prominence of the leaders shows up when they are most desired.

The theory also implies that in any leadership role, they can perform beyond their ability. And its great leaders are born with outstanding qualities. For instance, they are more proficient at managing, empowering, and naturally charismatic in doing so. Someone that goes above and beyond despite all odds to reach their goals.

Moreover, based on the theory, a person has all the personality traits of a leader such as, confidence, charm, intelligence, social & communication skills by birth that make them stand out in the crowd. In simple words, this theory tries to affirm that you cannot learn these skills and that you are either born with the key attributes of leadership or you are not. 

Also Read: 8 Ways To Support Your Team Member’s Mental Health

Apply The Best Leadership Theory To Lead Your Team Like a Pro

best leadership style

In today’s time, the success of a team to a great extent depends on good leadership skills. The leadership abilities of a good leader will mostly develop from how well they are able to grasp & apply these well-known leadership theories to overcome the challenges that they are facing over the years.

Moreover, few leadership experts believe that for effective leadership, there is no alternative to striking the right balance between needs, awareness of the situation, & behavior. And as a matter of fact, great leaders always look after their follower’s needs, analyze their current situation, and based on that make the adjustment in their behavior accordingly.

A number of factors depend on experiencing success in leadership these days. Theories of having a contingency plan, assessing the situation properly, having the right kind of relationship with the followers & understanding the complete context of the overall situation is what a great leader needs when they look to succeed and perform better as a team leader.

The Perfect Tools For Better Leadership Theory Application

WP ERP Core features

In today’s digital world, just applying the above theories of leadership to lead a team effectively in a company or business might not be enough. So a leader and its follower need assistance from a solid business and task management tool like WP ERP and WP Project Manager. Both these tools are user-friendly and cost-effective making the key business departments and team projects easily manageable & organized.

WP ERP, the complete business management solution tool comes with three essential modules like CRM, HR Management & Accounting, which as its name suggests takes care of all these significant departments of a company with ease. On the other hand, WP Project Manager makes the task, time & communication management skill of a team leader and his/her team more professional & refined than ever. Hence both the tool enhances the application capacities of key leadership theories & help polish their basic skills required to become a great leader.

Final Words

Let’s hope these leadership skills & ideas discussed above will help the upcoming leaders to understand all the key theories of leadership better. Hopefully, by applying these well-known leadership theories, future leaders will make a definite plan and will also know how they need to proceed with managing their team effectively.

How many of these top leadership theories did you apply as a leader? Feel free to share your views with us regarding your experience of utilizing your favorite theories of leadership in the comments below.

About Tarun Sikder

Tarun loves to write and play with the words. He likes to write about anything that excites him. Apart from being a content marketing warhead, he is also a very tech-savvy person. Learning about new technology and keeping himself updated with the modern tech world is something he relishes the most.

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