Explain how an understanding of the main theories on leadership can benefit managers of organisations. Assess the difference between leadership and management processes.

Essay by unaUniversity, Bachelor's September 2004

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Explain how an understanding of the main theories on leadership can benefit managers of organisations.

Anybody can learn the finer points of management and how and when to implement them, follow policy and do things by the book, however this does not guarantee a manager's success. To be successful, a manager must have many assets, one of which is leadership.

The success of any group activity usually depends heavily on leadership. It can therefore be advantageous for a manager to possess a broad understanding of the many different theoretic styles of leadership. There are three main types of theory which, although providing some enlightenment, do not fully explain what makes an effective leader. Briefly explained, these are:

· Trait Theories

"Trait" theory relies on certain personality characteristics, which can range from intelligence, and self-assurance to upbringing and education or even personal appearance and health, the list is endless, yet 80 years of study have failed to identify any one trait to distinguish a leader from a non-leader.

· Style Theories

The belief here is that certain styles of leadership work better than others in getting the most out of staff performance. These styles are identified as:

o Dictatorial - basically "bully-boy" tactics are used to force subordinates to work;

o Autocratic - the leader makes all the decisions and expects things to be done his way;

o Democratic - group decision-making is employed and subordinates must be willing to participate;

o Laissez-faire - minimal direction is given to subordinates who are given extensive autonomy.

The degree to which each or any of these styles is effective is largely dependent on the work environment, leader and subordinates. Douglas McGregor believed that, ultimately, a manager will most likely choose his leadership style based on how he views his subordinates. Either way, managers...