Theories of Leadership

How Should We Conceptualize Leadership?Consider five perspectives on leadership.

Introduction

Leadership theories have been debated for many years. These theories seek to explain how and why certain people become leaders. You will now learn about five such theories. Which of these theories best describes your preexisting ideas about leadership?
 

Complete the exercise below using your word associations from the previous activity, Defining Leadership.

Dr. Peter G. Northouse of Western Michigan University, a noted scholar of leadership, argues that despite the many theories of leadership, there are five main theories of leadership that are widely recognized.

He notes these in his book, Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice, and they are:

Leadership is a trait. 

Leadership is an ability. 

Leadership is a skill. 

Leadership is a behavior.

Leadership is a relationship. 

Recall your own word associations from the previous activity, Defining Leadership.

How do your existing ideas about leadership fit into these five theories of leadership?

Create a table and classify each of your word associations as a Trait, Ability, Skill, Behavior, and/or Relationship. (Example table shown below.)

Do some ideas clearly belong in only one of the five theories? Which ideas can fit into two or more theories?

Behavior

Relationship

Ability

Trait

Skill

Next Up:

EXPLORING THE FIVE THEORIES OF LEADERSHIP

ACTIVITY

Reexamine your notions of leadership and reflect on your leadership experience.

DEBRIEF: EXPLORING THE FIVE THEORIES OF LEADERSHIP

ACTIVITY

Review the five theories of leadership as a group and then reflect on them together.

SELF-REFLECTION

ASSIGNMENT

Consider which theory of leadership most resonates with you.

Strong personalities
Vision for the future
Cooperation with others
(etc.)
Word Associations
Trait
Ability
Skill
Behavior
Relationship

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