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.

To be successful, a manager must have many qualities, 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 different theoretic styles of leadership. There are three main types of theory:

· Trait Theories rely 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 years of study have failed to identify any one trait to distinguish a leader from a non-leader.

· Style Theories - this is the belief that certain styles of leadership work better than others in getting the most out of staff performance:

o Dictatorial - the use of bullying tactics 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 in which subordinates must be willing to participate;

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

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

· Contingency Theory is an understanding that a lot depends on the particular situation the manager is faced with. Leaders must consider:

(a) their own preferred style;

(b) their subordinates' preferred style of leadership;

(c) the task at hand; and

(d) the working environment.

Managers must find the best fit for their particular situation.

Managers can derive from these theories that there is no one...