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Leadership Theories and Approaches

Leadership refers to being in a position of influence over other people to bring out the best in them through motivating and inspiring them to engage their expertise towards achieving organizational goals and objectives fully. Leadership approach is the manner in which someone in a position of leadership handles the subordinates. There are eight major leadership theories and methods; situational approach, behavioral approach, trait approach, psychodynamic approach, servant leadership, authentic leadership, transactional leadership and transformational leadership. Leaders encounter challenges such capability of admitting mistakes, level of humility expression during success, stepping back to allow others to rise, dissent from workers, the ability to put plans into actions. Leaders should apply the most appropriate approach to overcoming any of the above challenges.Leadership Theories and Approaches

Setbacks are common leadership challenge I experience in my career. My confidence as a leader would be shaken whenever I encountered delays hence I would like to apply the trait leadership approach. In this approach, I will identify the personality traits that enabled me to get to the position of leading others hence use them in restoring my confidence in times of setbacks. The trait approach is unique and not similar to the other seven methods. Most business entities prefer it because of its excellent characteristics: it is task competent, individual with the trait can motivate people, there are action-oriented judgment and high level of intelligence which are essential features for success in the business world (Avoli and Walumbwa,2009).Leadership Theories and Approaches

Trait theory has several strengths; provision of understanding of an individual which is vital in achieving success as a leader, an individual makes decisions after an incisive knowledge of different aspects of a scenario, it is realistic since every individual was created uniquely with different talents, abilities and level of thinking. However, trait theory also has its drawbacks. It is simplistic in its approach and does not consider environmental and situational factors as capable of changing traits with which an individual was born. Trait approach focuses only on the leader without any consideration of the subordinates or even situational changes, not all characters within an individual help in all situations; it identifies individuals with the capability of being leaders without consideration that being leader is not a guarantee for success. Trait strengths overweigh its weaknesses hence my preference for it.

Transformational leadership focus on ensuring the proper welfare of employees as they work to achieve organizational goals and objectives. Its emphasis is on workers’ satisfaction first since without the worker’s needs being met, constructive work will not be done (Bush, 2003). Employees have the following characteristics: they work under no supervision, are adaptable to changes, employees work as a team through cooperation and smoothly, they entertain new ideas, they are inspirational in the manner in which they operate, and lastly the employees keep their ego in check without crossing one another’s path.Leadership Theories and Approaches

Strengths of transformational leadership approach include; allowing easy and quick formulation visions since individuals maximize their talents and free-will in decision making, transformational leadership promotes enthusiasm since workers operate in a jovial environment and mingle with ease to form strong friendship bonds, it uses inspiration in motivating in people whenever an individual encounters problems requiring support from colleagues, transformational leaders work best even with no any  financial source of motivation to give them morale.

Transformational leaders, however, have drawbacks such as too much dependence on passion and emotion and thus overlook on reality and truth, thus restricting willingness in conducting research. It has the potential of abuse as a result of being too good to be exploited by others who would wish to make use of such instances to their favour; transformational leaders can also face severe detail challenges when trying to seek help from more oriented team members within their workstations. The problem of restoring confidence when hit by setbacks is not best solved by this approach since it has an overlook on reality.Leadership Theories and Approaches

Transactional leadership is opposite of the transformational leadership. It emphasizes on meeting organizational goals and objectives at the expense of workers needs and aspirations (Jago, 1982, p.330). Transactional leader’s joy is in making more profits and employees grievances are of no importance. Features of this approach are; it discourages independent thinking, it is resistant to change, it employs extrinsic motivation which is externally applied, it rewards performance, and lastly, there is constrained thinking.

Strengths of transactional leadership include; employee motivation through incentives given to those who have contributed to success in an organization, it sets achievable goals through short term planning and encourages workers to work towards achieving such goals in order to get rewarded after the goals are met, it has a definite structure through which employees get informed before-hand clear instructions on what is expected from them and guidelines to follow during working period, lastly, transactional leadership ensures an increase in  production output as it cut down on the cost of production due to its short term objectives which make employees work  and  get rewarded.

A transactional leader is rigid and does not listen to suggestions from other people thus discourages creativity from employees, it also makes subordinates dissatisfied and unhappy through its accountability requirement on them without first considering their welfare, managers applying transactional leadership approach is insensitive to employees emotion and have transitory working relationship with them, making employees to also be insensitive to show concern for the company and merely work due to rewards that are given, lastly, it has unyielding leadership by having unbending rules and policies which can lead to suspension and even termination of an employee. A transactional approach to tackling confidence during setback can lead to the completion of a worker’s job, making remaining employees work under a lot of fear resulting into a bad relationship between a manager and subordinates hence it is not appropriate to meeting my leadership challenge.

Servant leadership approach gives employees a sense of ownership to work by leading themselves. It has an advantage of removing ego from someone in leadership position and thus provide useful services to workers, it eliminates a disciplinarian atmosphere from workers since they are given an opportunity to lead themselves, it makes employees own their work and also share responsibilities among themselves, it allows for diversity by providing room for employees with individual talents to use them to perform to their best.

Disadvantages of servant leadership include lack of authority since employees lead themselves, it has confused goals of administration with employees working from their instincts, adaptability to this leadership approach by institutions is very low since it requires whole institutional approach and it wastes a lot of time in decision making by first consulting all employees. It is not appropriate to solve my leadership challenge because a servant leader has no authority over subordinates and they lead themselves.Leadership Theories and Approaches

Authentic leadership approach ensures the honest relationship with workers. It has advantages of; a demonstrative initiative of leading by an example, leader influences employees; a genuine leader has visions which employees work to achieve. Its disadvantages are; authentic leader’s decisions may not produce progress in an organisation in all instances, it is time wasting in opinion consultation from employees before making decisions. It is not appropriate in tacking confidence during problems because the leader has to consider other workers opinions without following individual intuitive thoughts.Leadership Theories and Approaches

Situational approach chooses a leadership style to follow from the democratic, laissez-faire and autocratic styles. Its advantages include; it is easy to understand and applies to several fields, it shows how leaders should work to achieve their set goals, it encourages a leader to be flexible. However, this approach also has some disadvantages such as; it is open to abuse by subordinates, it is time wasting in selecting the most appropriate leadership style to use, leaders, adjust their leadership style to suit a given situation. The approach is weak in restoring broken confidence in a time of a setback since the leader would opt for a solution favouring a given position which may not correspond to the hitch experienced.

Behavioral approach is of the view that how a leader behavior bests predict the leadership influence and success by the leader. It has advantages which include; leadership traits are developed through learning and experience, leaders can be made through nurturing and training. Disadvantages of this approach are; it has a limited scope of where it can be used since a given behavior may not apply to more than two different situations, learning given practice is not a guarantee for success during implementation. The approach falls short finding best solutions to setbacks because of its limited scope of application.

The psychodynamic approach focuses on leaders knowing features that explain their personality then working with subordinates based on their characters. Advantages of this approach are; it takes account of both nature and nurture influences during practice, it focuses on childhood experiences in determining adulthood personality traits. However, its disadvantages include; behavior is predetermined and does not have a free will, its assumptions cannot be proven scientifically. The approach does not best restore confidence in situations of challenges since the leader will also consider childhood behaviors which are not necessary for finding a solution to adulthood leadership challenges.

Trait approach is, therefore, the most useful in restoration of confidence when a leader meets challenges since it has a broad scope of coverage and it is also the originator of all the remaining seven leadership approaches. I will best apply this approach to a reflection on how I have always trounced back after encountering challenges in life. I will then adopt the ways which worked out for me in a previously challenging situation, and if none of the solutions would be appropriate, I will use the experience developed while solving the previous challenges to come up with the most appropriate solution to the current situation. My confidence as a leader would then be restored after finding a solution to the current problem.


Avolio, B. J., Walumbwa, F. O., & Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: Current theories,

Research, and future directions. Annual review of psychology, 60,421-449.

Bush, T. (2003). Theories of educational leadership and management. Sage.

Jago, A. G. (1982). Leadership: Perspectives in theory and research. Management science,

28 (3), 315-336.