Leaders play an extremely important role in managing the complexity, competitiveness and the amount of change in the business environment today. For example, leaders espouse values, beliefs and priorities, and model what assumptions and behaviours are appropriate in the work environment. In this way, they help “make sense” of events, and help employees commit to an organization's vision, feel that their work is meaningful, and drive organizational effectiveness.1 As a result, it is increasingly important that business managers today have some leadership skills.
Curriculum that includes leadership and other soft skills has become ubiquitous in business schools. This curriculum comes from ongoing research that focuses on identifying the behavioural traits or leadership styles that make a person a good leader. As well, this research attempts to identify what differentiates an effective leader from an ineffective one.2
Research shows that people with different skills, emotional intelligence, and values, beliefs and priorities often have different leadership styles. These different leadership styles can be more or less effective depending on the work environment. Popular theories about leadership styles include Kurt Lewin's three leadership styles (authoritarian/autocratic, participatory/democratic, and laissez-faire/delegative), Robert Blake and Jane Mouton's managerial grid model, the Tanennbaum-Schmidt continuum, Max Weber's charismatic and transactional leadership styles, and MacGregor's Theory X and Theory Y.
1. Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in organizations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
2. Jago, A. (1982). Leadership: Perspectives in Theory and Research. Management Science, 28(3), 315-336.
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