Synthesize Emerging Leadership Theories
OLB 7008, Assignment 2
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Rosalind Gaines
6 May 2019
Synthesis of Leadership Theories
Dinh et al. (2014) noted that many leadership theories exist and more continue to emerge and develop. Some of the existing and emerging leadership theories, their theorist, and primary tenets are synthesized in table 1 below.
Leaders transform the expectation and reality of followers
Leaders who serve others make the most effectual leaders
Leaders possess a charisma which is visionary and inspiring
Leaders motivate followers through reward/punishment incentives
Offermann, Kennedy, & Wirtz
Leadership is a conceptualization of leadership traits and behaviors
Gerth & Mills
Leadership is a combination of an individual and their leadership in unique situations
Leadership is contingent upon relational and task-oriented situational demands
Great men bring about great changes in society
Trait Theory of Leadership
Kohs & Irle
Leadership is defined by inherent traits and personality characteristics
Thought processes of a leader must be understood in relation to their situation
Exchange Leadership Theory
A leader is only as effective as the behavior he/she changes in their followers
Bolden & Gosling
Leadership is impactful only a collective and not only and individual scale
Boal & Hooijberg
A “top-down” approach to leadership where an organization is aligned with strategic goals
Zaccaro, Rittman, & Marks
Leadership emerges in team performance and team building
Leadership surfaces in those with altruistic behaviors
Leadership includes self-concept and social identity frameworks
Leaders behave contrary to the well-being of followers and the organization
Avolio et al
Leadership encompasses virtual space and virtual workplaces and communication
Cogliser & Brigham
Leadership emerges in entrepreneurial vision and behaviors
Personal Leadership Theory
While many leadership theories exist – such as those synthesized above – the leadership theory of servant leadership is most compelling for the author. In 1977, Greenleaf developed the theory of servant leadership (Landis, 2014). Servant leadership states that leaders who serve others make the most effectual leaders (Landis, 2014). Servant leadership espouses the idea that leaders who genuinely care about the people they lead will generate the greatest level of motivation and dedication throughout all echelons of the organization. Beyer (2012) noted that behavior traits of servant leaders include helping following to succeed and grow, bring emotional healing, empowering followers, and creating value for those within the community and/or organization.
Servant leadership establishes trust by genuinely caring for those within the organization. As concluded by Landis (2014), this trust will generate the greatest level of motivation in followers to excel as members of the organization. Due to the building of trust between leader and stakeholder, servant leadership also creates open and honest lines of communication. As employees are encouraged to communicate, their input is invited into the decision-making processes of the organization. Servant leaders will also relationally invest in their employees as a result of their genuine care for their well-being. Servant leaders who demonstrate a care for those within their organization will base such care upon ethical stances and values rooted in compassion and empathy. Washington (2014) concluded that servant leaders are integral in establishing ethical climates, and that establishing ethical climates drives those within the organization to increase their own ethical standards and behavior. Servant leaders establish an organizational climate where employees are not only motivated to perform and behave well, but also to continually increase the standard of their performance and behavior. Leaders are poised to not only tap into stakeholder motivation and personal values, but, more importantly, to increase and expand motivation and personal values by motivating them to take such values to higher levels (Washington, 2014). These reasons highlight for the author that servant leadership is not only the most effectual means of motivating employees to perform in a general sense, but specifically in the not-for-profit sector.
Leadership Theories with Similar Behaviors
While the theory of servant leadership most aligns with my personal leadership philosophy, there are other emergent leadership theories with similar characteristics. The first of these is Implicit Leadership Theory, which defines leaders as being recognized and affirmed by followers based on the behavior of the leader towards others rather than the possession of certain characteristics (Offermann & Coats, 2018). Landis (2014) delineated the characteristics of Implicit Leadership Theory by citing the historical example of Moses, the famous Israelite leader. Landis (2014) characterized Implicit Leaders by behaviors such as flexibility, leading during uncertainty, and shaping cultures and rules which work for large, diverse groups of people.
Implicit Leadership Theory possesses many traits that are not only similar to servant leadership but are also applicable to the not-for-profit sector. Not-for-profit leaders often deal with budgetary constraints which can be very unpredictable from year to year. Furthermore, not-for-profit leaders deal with large numbers of volunteers who often come from diverse backgrounds and who possess varying levels of commitment to the organization. In this sense, implicit leadership has many characteristics which are directly applicable to the not-for-profit sector. Additionally, in order for implicit leadership to know and understand how to make adjustments and which rules to create which work for large groups of followers, they must know the needs of their followers. This trait is similar to servant leadership in that implicit leaders make the right leadership decisions because of their relational connection with their followers.
Another leadership theory with similar characteristics to servant leadership is the Upper Echelon Theory. Theorized by Hambrick & Mason in 1984, Upper Echelon Theory posits that leadership decisions cannot be separated from the background characteristics of those individuals leading the organization (Quttainah, 2015). Quttainah (2015) noted that upper echelon leaders make strategic decisions for an organizations based on not only their own background, but also the background of those within the organization. For example, Quttainah (2015) provided the example of a farming community in which the value in placed on continuing to work the family farm over leaving to pursue higher education. In this example, the values of the members of the community, as well as those of the leadership, influence the decision-making processes of those individuals in leadership.
Upper echelon leaders possess many characteristics which are necessary for effective leadership in the not-for-profit sector. Chiefly (and similar to servant leadership and implicit leadership), upper echelon leaders are keenly aware of the values, culture, and backgrounds of those within their community or organization. Thus, effective upper echelon leaders are relationally connected to those within their organization. In the not-for-profit sector, in particular, organizations are typically built upon specific values, causes, or needs within a community. Therefore, strategic planning and decision-making in the not-for-profit sector must be aware of and in tune with the deeper cultures and backgrounds of those supporting such causes in order to be effective.
Finally, the leadership style of transformational leadership embodies many similar characteristics to servant leadership and which are necessary for effective leadership in the not-for-profit sector. Transformational leadership is visionary in nature and, due to the charisma and inspiration of the transformational leader, the followers and the organization itself are transformed by the presence of the leader (Ospina, 2016). In the not-for-profit sector, it is vision that propels the organization and the followers more than the corporate sector. Consequently, in the not-for-profit sector, transformational leadership is not only necessary, but can be the difference in surviving and thriving in a community.
Portrait of Servant Leadership
A portrait and example of servant leadership in the not-for-profit sector with whom I have personal experience is Dr. Scott Borderud. Dr. Borderud is a leader within my organization who serves simultaneously at multiple echelons of leadership. Dr. Borderud serves as a local pastor of a church of approximately 500 congregants as well as the treasurer of our district (three states and approximately one-hundred churches). Previously, I served for three years under Dr. Borderud as an Associate Pastor before departing in 2013 to lead my own congregation.
Dr. Borderud immediately stuck out to me because of his unique leadership behavior and traits which positively impacted my life. Dr. Borderud was a graduate of the Naval Academy and spent time as both a Marine Infantry Officer as well as an Army Chaplain. Consequently, he was thoroughly trained and well-versed in a variety of leadership styles. He always spoke very directly and easily commanded the room in which he was present. However, despite this training and presence, his leadership behavior and traits were consistent with servant leadership.
Dr. Borderud is, in many ways, the embodiment of servant leadership. Washington, Sutton, and Sauser (2014) define servant leadership as a distinct leadership style in which the leader values the good of the follower above their own self-interest. He told me numerous times that while he valued my contributions to the team, that it would be self-serving of him not to acknowledge my strengths and the future potential available. He selflessly took time to develop my skills and talents and went out of his way to expose me to greater opportunities for service and leadership. One instance in which this was evident was when I confronted him about an opportunity to serve on my own as a pastor, and asked him again for guidance and wisdom. He then advocated for me to candidate for the position, which is a large part of the reason why I am in my present position. He selflessly placed my needs – and the needs of others – above his own for the betterment of the organization and the individuals comprising the organization.
Beyer, B. (2012). “Blending constructs and concepts: Development of emerging theories of organizational leadership and their relationship to leadership practices for social justice”. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 7(3). Retrieved May 6, 2019.
Dinh et al. (2014). “Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and changing perspectives”. The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 25, 36-62. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
Landis, E. A., Hill, D., & Harvey, M. R. (2014). “A synthesis of leadership theories and styles”. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 15(2). Retrieved May 6, 2019.
Offermann, L.R. & Coats, M.R. (2018). “Implicit theories of leadership: Stability and change over two decades”. The Leadership Quarterly, 29, 513-522. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
Ospina, S.M. (2016). “Collective leadership and context in public administration: Bridging public leadership research and leadership studies”. Public Administration Review, 77(2), 275-287. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
Quttainah, M.A. (2015). “Upper echelon theory: Role of community and strategy”. Expert Journal of Business and Management, 3(2), 171-181. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
Washington, R. R., Sutton, C. D., & Sauser, J. I. (2014). “How distinct is servant leadership theory? Empirical comparisons with competing theories”. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 11(1). Retrieved May 6, 2019.
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