Modern Leadership Theories

For nearly 2 centuries, we have been working hard to determine what qualities make up the best leaders that can be found amongst us. This is given rise to a number of modern theories of leadership that seek to explain why leaders the way they tend to behave. There are five essential modern theories that do an excellent job of encompassing a majority of the leadership traits and talents that we see today. Here they are for your consideration.

1. Transformational Leadership

Leaders that use this theory of leadership look to inspire their direct reports in some way. This happens through specific considerations that include inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation. At its very core, this theory of leadership looks at each individual on a team and seeks to create the most supportive environment possible. Leaders are advised to teach, coach, and advance the career development prospects of each direct report in order to maintain high morale.

2. Transactional Leadership

It would be fair to call this leadership style the “Parenting Leadership Theory” in many ways. Leaders who utilize this type of theory focus on providing rewards in exchange for a job that’s well done. They will seek to clarify mistakes and have clear expectations so that consequences or discipline can be handed out when a direct report fails to make the grade. Many times, a leader using this theory will not intervene if they see an employee starting to fail because learning from mistakes is often emphasized.

3. Laissez-Faire Leadership

This is considered a leadership theory, but it really isn’t any form of leadership at all. Leaders who utilize this theory are delegating almost 100% of their total responsibility to direct reports. They sit back and take credit for a job well done, but shift the blame to others when failure is the outcome that is achieved. There is no end to the needs of a direct support. In effect, this leadership style is characterized by a lack of leadership.

4. LMX

Leader-Member Exchange theories help leaders be able to recognize specific talents and skills in direct reports because they are working on the front lines with them. When this leadership theory is implemented correctly, it inspires a high level of trust within a team. The trap of this theory, however, is that leaders may not wish to ascend back to a leadership role because there is a lot of joy in rolling up one’s sleeves to do the front-line work.

5. Post Industrial Leadership

As leadership theories developed, many focused on either the traits of a leader or the actions that a leader decided to take. What is often ignored in theories are the natural talents that leaders bring to the table. Each person is gifted with a certain level of talent in specific fields that can make them a natural leader. This theory of leadership looks to identify those natural talents and then have people assume leadership roles based on those talents.

Modern leadership theories have helped many people discover their own natural talents. By looking at these theories on your own, the same can be true for you.

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