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The Nature of Leadership

Leadership is an interesting subject that excites so many people. When the term is mentioned, images of powerful individuals who head top Corporations in the world and army officials who have commanded victories in various big wars and politicians who shape nations come into our mind. We also think of values and characteristics such as brave, clever and smart. Leadership is a subject that touches and inspires many people. There were leaders in history who commanded such huge following such as Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohamed. At the same time there were undistinguished people who rose to positions of leadership and caused such big negative effect to humanity. Many researchers have defined the term leadership using their own perspectives but most definition has a common base where exertion of influence is intended (Stogdill, 1948).

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Controversies exist in this subject of leadership. It involves the issue of whether leadership should be viewed as specialized role or a shared influence process. In any group there are specialized roles of which leadership is one of them. It has responsibilities that cannot be shared too much without spoiling the effectiveness of a group (Bass, 2008). Another way to view leadership is in terms of the influence process that occurs naturally within a social system. Controversies that exist in the subject of leadership also have something to do with the influence and outcome of the activities of leadership. It has little to do with the person exercising the influence. The purpose of influence is another aspect of leadership that raises controversies. Influence is either based on reason or emotion. When the influence is based on emotions the leaders have greater chances to inspire their followers.

Leadership and management also raise controversies. Being a leader, does not require one to be in a managerial position. And at the same time it is possible to occupy such a position without offering any form of leadership. There are two forms of leadership that include direct and indirect leadership. In direct leadership, the influence flows directly from the leader to the subjects where as in indirect leadership, the influence passes through a different channel before it reaches the subjects. Some of the most important things that leaders can influence their followers include motivating them to achieve organizational goals, choice of the goals and the strategic plan to follow, acquiring and sharing of knowledge among the members. And sharing values and believes among members.

Nature of managerial work

As a manager leadership is essential for this role and position. An effective manager is one who offers leadership to rest of the organization. There are various research findings on the nature of managerial work. Researchers have spent time in trying to discover just how managers’ schedules are and what the pattern of their work is. If the pace of work is hectic and unrelenting, then most managers carry work at home. Each day, managers engage in very brief activities. They complete most of their activities in less that half an hour. Interruptions occur quite often. This is because of requests of assistance, information, direction and authorization. Managers spend most of their interaction time with peers and outsiders. They hardly interact with their subordinates in a close relationship.

Perspectives on effective leadership behavior

This chapter discusses the research methods employed to study behaviors of leaders, how these behaviors can be described using different perspective. And the different methods used to develop leadership behavior taxonomies. Leadership behaviors can be categorized into two: consideration and initiating structure (Bass, 2008). In consideration, the leaders have interest in the emotions of their subordinates and are concerned for people. They have interpersonal relationship. In initiative structure, the behaviors involve the leaders sensitizing on work accomplishment and meeting of set deadlines. They are also involved in task oriented behaviors, relationship oriented behaviors and participative leadership. Task oriented behaviors include things like organizing work activity to improve efficiency, planning short term operations and assigning work to groups or individuals. Relation oriented behaviors include things like providing support to someone who is facing difficulty in a specific piece of task.

Participative leadership, delegation and empowerment

One of the important functions that leaders perform is making decisions. Their activities involve making and implementing the decisions. To achieve this, the leaders have to plan their work, delegate duties, solve difficult issues, and determine wages. A participative leadership style is one that involves others in the group in making crucial decisions. Delegation is a type of power sharing that normally happens when a leader of a large group releases some of his or her authority to make certain decisions to the immediate juniors. Empowerment, involves members having a perception or opinion that they have the chance to determine their roles at work and can achieve their goals and objectives.

Dyadic Role making, attribution and followership

This chapter discusses the LMX theory, that describes how a leader develops an exchange relationship with each of his members. Both the leader and the subordinate influence each other in defining the role of the subordinate in the organization. This is what is called dyadic relationship. Attribution theory helps leaders to interpret the subordinate’s performance and decide how to react to it. Upward impression management is also examined in this chapter to see how the subordinates try to influence the leader’s perception of their competence and motivation.

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According to LMX, Leader Member Exchange theory, leaders develop high trusted relationships with only a small number of the subordinate who assist the managers as personal assistants, and advisors (Stogdill, 1948). There are three stages for role making according to the LMX theory. The relationship begins with a testing phase where both the leader and the subordinate evaluate each other’s motives. If it proceeds well, mutual relationship is refined and the trust, loyalty and respect are developed. In the third and final stage, the subordinates and leaders as well begin to show commitment in their work and show focus in meeting the objectives and mission of the work.

Leaders’ attribution about subordinates is the assessment of their competency and dependability based on their behaviors and performances. Managers attribute poor performance of subordinate staff to something inside of them such as lack of effort. Poor performance can also be attributed to external factors that are beyond someone’s control such as inadequate resources and insufficient information. When correcting performance deficiencies, a manager needs to: gather information about the problem, avoid attribution biases, provide corrective feedback promptly, explain the effect of ineffective behavior, express professionalism and reach agreements on specific action steps. Follower’s attribution and implicit theory determines how followers perceive a leader. This has important implications to the organization since a leader who is viewed as competent is likely to retain his position or be elevated to a higher position where as leaders who are viewed as incompetent are likely to be replaced.

Reference list

Bass, B. B. (2008). The bass handbook of leadership: Theory research and Managerial application. New York: Free Press.

Stogdill, R. M. (1948). Personal factors associated with leadership: A survey of the literature. Journal of Psychology , 35-71.

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