Differences in Leadership Practices.

Essay by UniqmaUniversity, Master's February 2010

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Executive SummaryThe contemporary empirical literature on leadership often appears to be fragmented andcontradictory. It is the thesis of this paper to illustrate some key theories on leadershipand their significance for today's leadership practices within organisations.

The key parts of the structure are a survey of the history of leadership studies and anunderstanding of the basic functions of leadership, meaning what leaders must do inorder to be effective.

Although the study of leadership is a legitimate academic discipline, there is still littleagreement on what leadership really is. Thus, in innumerable scientific works, there areplenty of definitions. Leadership theories have been developed and refined over the pastdecades without developing a universal model or theory, which can be applied for allissues associated with leadership. First, there was the trait phase, then the behaviouralphase and currently the situational phase. During the trait phase, theorists attempted todetermine a universal set of leadership qualities, so-called traits.

In the behaviouralphase, focus was on determining a general leadership style or a certain combination ofleadership behaviours. During the situational phase, research aims at findingcombinations of leader, subordinates and situational characteristics, which interact toproduce utmost effectiveness.

Modern leadership is primarily organisational leadership and requires contemporarytalents and behavioural patterns. Today, leadership is a constant and complextransaction between an individual in a position with authority and power and itssubordinates within an organisation. Leadership performance depends on theindividual's leadership style and the situation. Thus, a distinctive leadership style isrequired for different contexts. Besides, organisational performance can be improved byeither changing the leader or changing the situation in which the leader performs.

The terms leader and manager are not identical in their primary meaning but will beused interchangeably in the assignment. The reason is that leadership practises inorganisations will be examined and therefore managers are considered as leaders ofsubordinates. Research suggests that the distinction...