An Investigation of Leadership Models

An Investigation of Leadership Models – 1 –
An Investigation of Leadership Models
Michael N. Phan
University of Phoenix School of Advance Studies
An Investigation of Leadership Models
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Leadership is the result of the interaction among the leader, the follower, and the
leadership situation. The leadership process contains all these three key elements. The leadership
situation is seldom able to be changed, and the follower (s) is another area, which is generally
static, so it is the leader, which must make change if projects are not being accomplished. It is
the leadership style, which will determine many things about a company or division, because
different leadership styles work well or poorly in different environments. They also promote or
impede different company cultures and develop different aspects and skills among the
employees, creating uniquely different teams and determining how those teams function.
Leadership styles at any level will modify these attributes and modify the efficiency of people or
teams and even whole departments within their area of influence or control. Overall leadership
styles, which may actually be dictated by company business architecture, culture and the
leadership styles of those at the top also impact company culture and greatly influence the
strategic positioning of the organization.
Leadership is absolutely required in business or government organizations. Without
legitimately granting leaders the power needed to guide the organizations, they fall apart.
Drucker sees this as the proof that leadership must be legitimized, one way or another. James
Burnham??™s thesis of the managerial revolution (1941) and shareholder democracy, which
asserted that stockholders, voting by proxy, delegated their property rights to professional
managers was ample proof of this theory (Burnham, 1941).
Goleman (1997) identified the following leadership styles:
Authoritative or Autocratic Model
There are differing opinions on just what this style exhibits. There are those who classify
this style as totalitarian. This kind wants full control. -“Ill tell you what to do because Im the
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boss”. These kinds of leaders are becoming totally passe, except in acute care facilities and other
niches where this kind of leadership is required in order to get quick unquestioned action. Even
there, it is not employed full time, but only when it is needed. Generally for other tasks and
functions, the team is led using another style, often on very democratic or laissez-faire to provide
a balance to the environment and to maintain empowered employees. In Goleman??™s article,
Leadership That Gets Results, (2000) he describes this style as setting the goals and defining the
vision, but letting the team devise the means. Perhaps we need another word to use instead of
authoritative, since that seems to carry the wrong connotation. The autocratic style works best
with small, highly motivated and very able teams. However, in most cases, unless the leader is
giving constant feedback, this is considered to be more of an absence of leadership. A leader who
creates teams, establishes goals and then simply manages the project and coordinates the teams,
keeping everyone apprised of progress and praising or encouraging is much more useful in
today??™s fast changing environment. Maintaining happy productive teams is very difficult when
the leader is either to removed or too hands-on (Goldman, 2000).
Democratic Model
This kind of leader generally looks for consensus, but has the last word, though the true
democratic leader relies upon persuasion at the last. “Well all meet and discuss it until everyone
agrees on a decision” Since democratic rule seldom does anything with any speed, it has to be
handled by a strong leader to prevent getting bogged down in endless meetings with no decisions
reached. This type of leadership empowers the teams. However, it also requires that the members
of the teams be informed, talented and well versed in their own areas. Otherwise, it would be
impossible to make good decisions via democratic rule. A democratic leadership style works best
when the leader is not sure how to proceed, or when there are a number of choices to be made,
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which will impact the group. It even works well when the leader knows the eventual outcome,
but looks to the team to find any alternatives. The underlying themes of empowerment strengthen
the sharing of power and provide people with a belief in their abilities. (Nahavandi, 1997, p. 89).
Empowering leaders are participative decision makers. The essence of participative style is the
participation of many persons in decision-making. And this is democratic rule. As is well known,
democracy requires an educated populace, and the smaller the population group, the more
educated and talented they need to be (Nahavandi, 1997).
Reactive Model
This kind of leader tends to react to circumstances and changes tactics often. However, it
is difficult to work for this kind of leader, since they are very changeable. “Im not sure how Ill
decide or react; it depends on my mood.” This leader is not dependable and cannot build a
trustworthy team, because they cannot trust the leader. Being reactive to a changing environment,
especially as concerns the market, is useful, but changing tactics needs to have some kind of
useful theory behind it. The leader cannot lead by whim. This kind of leader needs an enormous
amount of help and an impossible level of understanding. In addition to all of this the leader
needs to be very lucky or he or she will not last long.
Cooperative/Interactive Model
This kind of leader seeks approval, and wants everyone to agree. Not enough gets done,
because the leadership is not strong enough. “We will all discuss everything, but remember,
harmony is most important”. This works for social clubs, but not in business. A little of this kind
of leadership goes a long ways. Harmony is important once the team has embarked upon an
action, however, disruption is often the stimulus to innovation and questioning a course of action
is necessary in order to make good decisions.
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Entrepreneurial Model
Much of modern management theory concerns how to teach people to be entrepreneurial.
This kind of leader is not exactly the same as laissez-faire (discussed in the pages ahead),
because this leader expects a certain level of results, but does not care how they are achieved.
“We dont have to sit around and talk about it, just do it. Im too busy for that.” (Goleman 2000).
None of these leaders described here are very successful in the fast changing environment for
business today. Today the leaders seek to create well functioning teams, which they lead.
Entrepreneurial leaders generally guide by objectives as described by Peter Drucker (1974).
Many of the traits of entrepreneurial people are useful in an international market where many
changes take place quickly. However, it is the team, which must embody these traits, since they
must share the vision, the decisions and the consequences (Goleman, 2000; Drucker, 1974).
These styles of leadership are not as popular as the newer types, because they work better
in a very centralized hierarchical structure, and companies are moving away from this. As
companies buy out, take over or merge with others, the company culture has to change to make
the most of both entities. In order to take the most advantage of the pool of talent, new company
architecture had to be devised, changing the highly hierarchical structures to more decentralized
flat architecture, where management is expected to build teams and accomplish the set goals in
whatever is found to work best, as long as the managers stay basically within the company
philosophy. The leadership at the top realizes that there is a huge pool of talent and knowledge
from which they can draw, if they can only align the employees with the company needs and
create a dedicated and productive workforce. Organizations have begun to value their
organizational knowledge and have worked out ways to apply it to problems. This requires a new
type of leadership, which can more easily work with change and create a strategy, which can
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come up with innovative ways to get things done. So new ways of leading have been devised to
work better with a more informed and empowered work force. Some of the more modern styles
of leadership include autocratic, transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire. These are the
ones that most of the literature is discussing (Drucker, 1974).
Transformational Model
Transformational leadership first identified by Burns (1978). Transformational leadership
enables innovative change through inspiration and empowerment. These leaders are generally
either almost awes inspiring in how they stimulate confidence or they are charismatic and people
simply want to please them. Innovation identifies new ways to solve existing problems and meet
project requirements. Innovative organizations encourage experimentation and reward both
success and failure. Transformational leaders are innovative in themselves and they inspire this
in others and value it in a team. This leadership style is can change dynamically with the other
changes connected to e-commerce and Internet business. It often involves new technologies.
Transformational leaders stay abreast of change involving their organization, the market or their
product (Burns, 1978).
Transformational leadership is probably the most useful in international business or in
any business involving fast changing products, services or markets. The transformational leader
recruits his or her whole team to lead when necessary, and inspires innovative thinking and
problem solving in the members.
Transactional Model
Transactional leadership is based on transactions or exchanges between leaders and
followers. Benefits flow both directions as the followers act as a team to accomplish whatever
goal is set and the leader acts on their behalf to fulfill their needs. (Nahavandi A.1997, p.190).
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Transactional leaders reward to reinforce appropriate behavior and to discourage inappropriate
behavior. They seldom employ negative consequences beyond pointing out that rewards were not
earned. They are highly logical, dependable and not discriminatory. Resolving conflicts generally
is done according to a set of predestined rules. As long as these solutions fit the problems which
arise this works (Nahavandi, 1997).
However, while transactional leaders usually keep things moving along smoothly, they do
not work well in a disruptive environment, whether the disruptions are internal or external.
Transactional leaders lack the flexibility to deal with dynamic change. The idea of negotiated
actions and reactions is a nice fairy tale, and might even work in some settings, but the least bit
of change derails it completely. It is rather like the dictionary of the English language trying to
keep up with the way in which we use language, to try to set up management by rules. This is
one major reason that governance by computers would never work, even if sufficient knowledge
could be stored and be instantly accessible to solve most problems. Therefore, transactional
leaders are generally found in lower levels within the organization governing small groups.
Laissez-Faire Leadership Model
The laissez-faire leadership style is named for the French word meaning ???let it do???,
translated as ???let it be???. The manager tries to stay out of the way, doing as little directing as
possible, thus empowering his or her employees. Employees determine their own goals and those
if any projects under their responsibility, make decisions, and solve the attendant problems
themselves. This is very close to the earlier mentioned autocratic leader. However, even laissezfaire
leaders are expected to give regular input and feedback, since they are the experts to whom
the team looks for guidance.
In order for this to work efficiently:
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?· Employees must be skilled and experienced
?· Employees must be very motivated
?· The project may be directed by outside experts or contractors
?· Employees must be trustworthy and loyal
This style should not be employed if:
?· employees are insecure or unskilled
?· managers cannot provide regular feedback
?· managers are insecure or unable to give praise
?· managers are not well skilled and informed on the necessary elements of the project
(Styles of leadership, 2008).
This management style can create staffing and control issues. Its strengths are its
flexibility, ease of change and democratic principles. (Staten & Clark 2004) In Staten and Clark??™s
research, the Laissez-faire style was found not to provide enough guidance and support, and the
team members in a nursing facility did not feel that the leader took enough responsibility. (Lipley
2004) The same was found in emergency medical services. The leadership was needed during a
crisis and laissez-faire was not dependable. This leadership style is simply not efficient where
instant decisions or fast reactions may be required. A laissez-faire manager sets the tasks and
follows up with minimal involvement. He or she is there to coach or answer questions, supply
information if required. Employees are developed to take responsibility, which may improve
motivation and involvement. However, they may begin to feel lost and fail to reach the set goals
(Staten & Clark, 2004; Lipley, 2004).
Sometimes it is best, usually within small companies or departments, which need
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innovation. William Casey of the CIA had some good points. He said the following about his
management style, “My management style is simple: you hire the best people, you give them
clear goals, you give them the authority to achieve those goals, and then you get out of the way.
If they dont perform, you fire them and get someone else.” This is termed as ???laissez-faire with
consequences???, and it often works well. (untitled blog on line 2008) This style, however, has a
very high turnover of team members.
It worked really well for Paul Petrosino (Sichko 2008), who gets the most out of his
employees by not spending much time around them at all. Four years ago Petrosino hired a
manager from a recruiting specialist to take over Integrated Liner Technologies, which makes
tiny, specialized caps and cap liners for vials and other tubes and containers from silicone, Teflon
and rubber. “His style of management nearly destroyed the company for a year,” Petrosino said.
“The sales force was completely disrupted. Finally, I saw that it was going to hell, and I took it
all away from him.” After taking over again, Petrosino??™s company continued to grow and now
has annual sales of $12.5 million.
So most of the time the Laissez-faire management style is too loose, but if you have a
small company and a great staff it can work very well, because it gives loyal and smart
employees power to make things work. Usually it works best if the company gives the
employees a stake ion the company??™s future beyond the benefits of a continuance of paychecks.
Visionary Leadership Model
Visionary leaders use a little of all of the different leadership styles as the need arises.
They have a high degree of flexibility and can deal with rapid change. They work best with
talented teams, which have highly professional, interdependent expert members who can work
with little supervision. The visionary leader usually has a well-rounded education and entertains
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innovative cross-disciplinary ideas. They can deal with a great deal of complexity, generally use
advance planning, though this is always flexible, and they are optimistic about the future.
Visionary leaders inspire commitment and cooperation and are trusted, because they set and
follow their own standards of excellence. (Bennis, W., 1992, p. 29)
It is the visionary leaders who tend to combine all the various methods of management
and who create their own identifiable style of leadership. Hewlett Packard runs its corporation as
a collection of interdependent units, each of which needs both the freedom to take chances and
the support of corporate protection. Ernst & Young, on the other hand, employs a more ???hands
on??? style of governance, letting each new employee know what will be expected of them and
giving them a huge set of tools with which to accomplish their goals. The company values
innovation, but their business requires a certain continuity. So one might describe this company
culture as institutionalized knowledge management in support of organizational learning and
employee innovation.
What is important to understand about all of these leadership styles is that few truly
excellent leaders may be classified by any one of them. Most leaders are a combination of many
different styles and these are employed at different times as circumstances require. Even the
???visionary??? leader may become quite autocratic, or even dictatorial, when the circumstances
require it. What does not change about the visionary leader if the confidence they instill in the
organization and their followers. The visionary leader is primarily concerned with the
organization, the employees and the customers, and everything they do is thus motivated.
Because everyone knows this and knows that they are the most capable available, they get things
In fact, there are valuable elements in all the these described leadership styles and in
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many others described in current literature. All we really know is that the old style of leadership
might work in an abbey, but not on the international market.
Bennis, W. (1992). Visionary Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
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Bryman, A. (1992). Charisma and Leadership in Organizations. London: Saga Publications.
Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper &Row.
Drucker, P. (1974). Management: tasks, responsibilities, practices. New York. Harper & Row.
Drucker, P. (1997). Shaping the Managerial Mind, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 8,
Issue 2, pp. 32-47. Retrieved August 12, 2008, from Premier Academic Research
Goleman, D. (2000). “Leadership that Gets Results.??? Harvard Business Review, Vol. 10,
Issue 4, pp. 52-67. Retrieved August 12, 2008, from Premier Academic Research
Joseph, P. T. (2003). Leadership styles and emotional competencies: an exploratory study,
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12, 2008, from Premier Academic Research Database.
Lipley, N. (2004). Mix of leadership styles is best. Nursing Management – UK, Vol. 10,
Issue 9, pp. 4-4.
Management Styles (2008). Learn Management. Retrieved August 7, 2008, from
Nahavandi, A. (1997). The Art and Science of Leadership. London. Prentice-Hall Press.
Sichko, A. (2000). CEOs laissez-faire management style empowers executives, spurs growth,
The Business Review (Albany) – by The Business Review. Retrieved August 4, 2008, from
Staten, C. (2004). Management Models and Participative Management: A Theory for the Future.
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Tichy, N. M. & Devanna, M. A. (2004). The transformation leader. New York: John Wiley &
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