Taxonomy of Leadership Theories
It is important to note that this paper has two sections, of which the first section is the one
taxonomy, and the next 4 pages are the Leadership Theory Taxonomy paper. I will also send a
template that is to be use for the 4 pages. It is critical that the writer compose the paper in the
template following exactly how the template is structured as the paper will not be graded if done
Taxonomy of Leadership Theories.
Leadership attracts significant attention from researchers in a variety of fields. Researchers have
developed a variety of theories to explain the nature and practice of leadership. Of course, no one
theory exists in a vacuum. Each theory draws on the work of previous researchers. Moreover,
researchers routinely revise older theories based on research completed after the initial theories were
developed. For instance, research on charismatic and transformational leadership draws on earlier
research on trait theory. In addition, trait theorists develop new theories that address the role of
situation in leadership. These new theories are a direct result of the subsequent development of
situational theory. As a possible contributor to the field of leadership research, you should have an
TAXONOMY OF LEADERSHIP THEORIES 2
understanding of and appreciation for the breadth and depth of leadership research and the
relationships among the various theories.
� Review these Learning Resources. Select four leadership theories for this Assignment. Search for
additional peer-reviewed scholarly resources about your selected leadership theories. You should use
both the articles in the Learning Resources and additional scholarly resources to develop your
analysis. You must use proper paraphrasing techniques when completing your analysis. Avoid using
direct quotes by paraphrasing as appropriate. Include proper APA citations.
� A 1-page taxonomy that follows the Leadership Theory Taxonomy Template which I will send via
� A 4 page (not including cover page or references) Leadership Theory Taxonomy paper that
explains in detail each theory listed in the taxonomy, by synthesizing multiple scholarly references
and examples. Be sure to include the following in your paper:
o Five peer-reviewed scholarly resources in addition to those offered by the Learning Resources
o Specific examples of two of the four theories drawn from personal experiences or scholarly literature
o Work that adheres to APA style
TAXONOMY OF LEADERSHIP THEORIES 3
Taxonomy of Leadership Theories
Leadership is a relatively complicated process, and thus, remains very contentious with
so many reservations regarding the extent that a set of competencies, qualities, or standards
may at any point be in a position of capturing fully the characteristics of what leads to the
success of some leaders and organizations and the failures of others (Avolio et al., 2009).
Until the late 1930s, not much academic interest had been developed in the field of
leadership. Several theories have, however, been put forward to try to explain the various
organizational leadership models, come of which apply to most of the current organizations.
Inasmuch as there is a school of thought that is fast gaining recognition campaigning
for the efficacy of dispersed leadership, each of the theories put forward approaches the
leader from quite an individualistic manner (Raelin, 2003). This approach that is founded on
the grounds of psychology, politics and sociology associates leadership to a process which is
dispersed throughout an entire organization instead of the view of management science
whereby the leadership is solely in the hands of the designated leader (George et al, 2007).
The theories tend to shift from modelling leaders to modelling organizations full of leaders
with collective leadership responsibility.
From the studies of literature on leadership, running from the “Great Man” theory and
“Trait” theory up to “Transformational” leadership. The initial theories, Grate Man and Trait,
tend put focus on the behaviours of the leaders that were considered as successful whilst the
following theories put considerations on the role played by the followers as well as the
holistic nature of leadership (Raven, 1993).
- The Trait theory
TAXONOMY OF LEADERSHIP THEORIES 4
This originated from the “Great Man” theory with an aim of identifying the
characteristics considered as key for the successful leaders. Through this approach, the belief
was that it could be possible to isolate the key leadership traits and as such enable the
recruitment of people exhibiting such traits (James et al, 2007). It was a very critical
approach in the military and is still used to date as one of the criteria for selecting the
candidates for commissions. Such traits included adaptability to situations, assertiveness,
cooperativeness, dependability, persistence, self-confidence, stress tolerance, dominance and
skills such as creativity, intelligence, knowledgability, social skills, persuasion,
communication skills, just to list but a few (Stogdill, 1974).
The main challenge with this approach, however, was the immeasurability nature of
traits. For instance, how possible could it be to measure such traits as honesty, loyalty or
diligence? This rendered the study of traits very difficult to conclude. However, in 1960, the
classic book of Douglas McGregor led to a shift in the attention from this theory to
“Behavioural Theories” (McGregor, 1960).
- Behavioural theory
As a teacher, consultant and a researcher, coupled with the consideration of his work as
being “on the cutting edge” of managing humans, McGregor managed to influence all
theories of behaviour. Such theories emphasised on the focusing on the relationship of the
humans along with performance and output (Xu & Thomas, 2011). He devised a theory based
on two classes of managers, theory X and theory Y managers. He proposed a participatory
leadership, which has so far had very dramatic impact on managers. He posited that the
assumptions of leaders about the nature of humans influence the strategies of leadership. He
thus came up with two sets of assumptions, made by managers that were contrasting as
shown in the table below.
TAXONOMY OF LEADERSHIP THEORIES 5
Theory X leaders Theory Y leaders
1 By nature, employees hate to
work, and would use the slightest
opportunity to avoid it.
Employees in this category view work as
natural, and can associate it to play or rest.
2 Since employees hate work, they
need constant pressure, coercion, threat
and punishment to attain the set down
Employees are viewed as being able to work
on their own while remaining focussed due to the
commitment they have towards achieving the set
3 Most employees have the
tendency of avoiding responsibility and
try as much as possible to remain under
normal direction (Maner & Mead,
An average employee is so willing to accept
any responsibility given and even go to an extent
of seeking additional task.
4 Employees tend to focus on their
security and as such exhibit very
minimal ambition, if any.
All the workforce is actively involved in the
making of decisions and the employees tend to be
much focused. Decision making is not left solely
in the hands of the managers (Higgs, 2003).
Inasmuch as the theories can be applied by managers in developing some behaviours in
leadership, they give very minimal attention on what comprises effective leadership in the
various situations (Northouse, 2013). Because of the shortcomings of the theory of
behavioural leadership, another theory emerged to address such weaknesses. This was the
“contingency situational” theories.
- Contingency theory
TAXONOMY OF LEADERSHIP THEORIES 6
This theory, whose proponent was Fieldler, asserts that there is not any single best
method that may be used by managers in leading, and instead, different leadership styles
requirements for managers arise as a result of the different situations that present themselves
in the course of leadership (Tannenbaum, & Schmidt, 1958). Thus, the solution to the
management situation is contingent to the factors impinging on the situation. For example, a
directive leadership may apply in a mechanic environment with repetitive tasks, while in
dynamic environment may require a more participative and flexible style.
Three situations are that could help in the definition of the conditions of a managerial
task were taken into consideration by Fieldler. These were as outlined below:
i. Leader member relation: defines how well the employees and the manger get
ii. Task structure: takes into consideration as to whether the task fairly
structured, highly structured or in between.
iii. Position power: outlines how much authority the manager possesses.
- Transactional and transformational leadership
This theory, put forward by James McGregor, outlined the concept of leadership
transformation (Whittington et al, 2009). To him, this approach advanced a relationship
characterized by mutual elevation and motivation, which transforms the followers into
leaders and at the same time may transform the leaders into just moral agents. He went
further to define the theory by arguing that: “[Transforming leadership] occurs when one or
more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another
to higher levels of motivation and morality…” He proposes that transforming leader alters,
shapes, motivates and elevates the goals, motives and values of the followers and in the
process enabling them gain significant change.
Transactional leadership Transformational leadership
TAXONOMY OF LEADERSHIP THEORIES 7
Preoccupied with position and power Founded on morals, values, ethics and
Founded on the need to get a job and
making a living.
Founded on the need by a man for
Mired in affairs of day to day. Surpasses daily affairs.
Short term goals. Oriented towards long term goals
Relies on human relations. Focused on strategies and missions.
TAXONOMY OF LEADERSHIP THEORIES 8
Avolio B. J., Walumbwa F.O., Weber T.J., 2009. Leadership: current theories research and
future directions. Annual review of psychology, 60(1), 421-449.
George B., Sims P., McLean A. N. and Mayer D., 2007. Discovering your authentic
leadership. Harvard business review, 85(2), 129-139.
Higgs, D. (2003) Review of the role and effectiveness of non-executive directors. Department
of Trade and Industry – January, 2003. Online at www.dti.gov.uk/cld/non_exec_review
James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner.2007. The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition August
McGregor, D. (1960). The Human Side of Enterprise. New York: McGraw Hill.
Maner J. K. and Mead N, L. 2010. The essential tension between leadership and power:
When Leaders Sacrifice Group Goal For The Sake Of Self-Interest. Journal of
personality and social psychology, 99(3), 482-497.
Northouse P. G., 2013. Leadership: Theory and practice (6 th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Raelin, J. (2003) Creating Leaderful Organizations. San Fransisco: Berrett-Koehler
Raven B. H. 1993. The bases of power: origin and recent developments. Jornal of social
issues, 49(4), 227-251.
Rodgers, H., Frearson, M., Holden, R. and Gold, J. (2003). The Rush to Leadership.
Presented at Management Theory at Work conference, Lancaster University, April
Stogdill, R. (1974) Handbook of Leadership (1st Ed.). New York: Free Press.
Tannenbaum, R. and Schmidt, W. (1958) How to choose a leadership pattern. Harvard
Business Review 36(2), 95-101
TAXONOMY OF LEADERSHIP THEORIES 9
Whittington, J. L., Coker R. H., Goodwin V. L., Ickes W. and Murray B. 2009. Transactional
leadership revisited: Self agreement and its consequences. Journal of applied Social
Psychology, 39(8), 1860-1886.
Xu J. & Thomas H. C. 2011. How can leaders achieve high employee engagement?
Leadership and organization development journal, 32(4), 399-416.