Saturday, January 4, 2014

Considering the range of leadership theory

Let's consider the range of theories that purport to describe leadership - all in varying ways! These lenses assist in the understanding of this complex social phenomenon called leadership.  Here are a few common theories just to provide some overview.  We will add to this list together and will choose one or two theories to explore further. Reading list with reference info available by request.

Trait-based leadership Excellent leaders can be shown to do things in similar ways – the ‘great-man’ theory.  Sociologically – leadership involves the power to control and the power to motivate.  Psychologically, great leaders share personality and temperament traits. (Gill, 2006).
Emergent leadership According to Misiolek & Heckman (2005), behaviorally-based leadership theory can provide insights into emergent leadership in virtual environments. This study also provides additional insights into the patterns of leadership that emerge in virtual environments and relationship to leadership behaviors.  Emergent leadership is defined as leadership that emerges over time outside of formal assignment or position.
Contingency theory and leadership This group of theories integrates common leadership considerations in reference to the context.  See
Complexity leadership New on the scene; see for definition.
Transactional leadership

Based on interaction between leader and follower, transactional leaders provide rewards and punishment to require certain behaviors from followers.  The authority of the leader emerges from the transactions that occur in the group, and the careful wielding of legitimate power.
Transformational leadership “In many studies, transformational leadership has emerged as a promising approach in response to increasing demands to develop and implement innovations in schools” (Moolenar et al., 2010, abstract).
Distributed leadership
Distributed leadership has caught the attention of researchers, policy-makers practitioners and educational reformers (Spillane, 2006; Harris, 2008; Leithwood et al., 2009a). It is the leadership idea of the moment, even though its genesis can be traced back to the field of organizational theory in the mid 1960s (Barnard, 1968). Critics argue that distributed leadership is nothing more than a “new orthodoxy” which reinforces managerialist principles (Fitzgerald and Gunter, 2007). Alternatively, others argue it offers a new way of thinking about leadership in schools and provides a powerful tool for transforming leadership practice (Spillane et al., 2001)
Harris, A. (2009).  Distributed leadership: What we3 know. Studies in Educational Leadership, 7(1), 11-21.

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