BUS 3012 Unit 2 Assignment 1 Leadership Theories

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Leadership Theories

Leadership theories encompass various styles and approach that leaders adopt to effectively guide and influence their teams. This essay explores three prominent theories: Transformational Leadership Theory, House Path-Goal Theory, and Trait Theory. These theories shed light on the characteristics of leaders and how they can build trust, provide influence, and reward their followers.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a style that emphasizes motivation, inspiration, and empowerment without excessive control. Leaders practicing this style foster open communication and develop trusting relationships with their employees. They delegate decision-making authority and encourage autonomy at the employee level, promoting growth and creativity within the organization. 

Transformational leaders serve as examples at the executive level, shaping the company’s future success. Through mentorship and training, they prepare employees for leadership roles, nurturing a pipeline of transformational leaders. Transformational leadership originated with James V. Downton in 1973 and was expanded upon by James Burns in 1978. 

BUS 3012 Unit 2 Assignment 1 Leadership Theories

Researcher Bernard M. Bass further developed ways to measure transformational leadership in 1985, highlighting the importance of inspiring employees and demonstrating authentic and robust leadership. This leadership style is vital today for innovative companies operating in fast-paced environments. 

For example, digital IT companies undergoing rapid technological changes rely on transformational leadership to embrace digital transformation, remain competitive, and foster innovation. According to a Gartner report, 40 percent of IT leaders responsible for digital transformation consider themselves transformative leaders, while 34 percent focus on innovation. Successful digital transformation requires inspiring and motivating employees to embrace change and growth, making transformational leadership essential. 

Examples of transformational leaders include Fogel and Boyd of Priceline, who charged lower commission fees on travel reservations and focused on smaller markets like B&Bs, inns, and apartments, eventually leading to the creation of Booking.com. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook of Apple exemplify dual transformation, with Jobs innovating on Microsoft products while building a software ecosystem. Cook extends Jobs’ vision, emphasizing software, innovation, and brand loyalty.

House’s Path-Goal Theory

The Path-Goal theory focuses on achieving goals in the workplace by aligning a leader’s behavior or style with the needs and circumstances of employees. Leaders using this theory choose behaviors that best match their employees’ needs and working environment, aiming to guide and empower them. The idea, inspired by Martin G. Evans, suggests that leaders engage in various types of leadership behaviors depending on the demands and nature of the situation. 

Leaders assist employees in goal attainment, providing support and direction and ensuring compatibility between individual and organizational goals. Employee satisfaction depends on the leader’s effectiveness as a coach and facilitator, as they reward performance. The original Path-Goal theory identified four leadership styles: achievement-oriented, directive, participative, and supportive behaviors. 

BUS 3012 Unit 2 Assignment 1 Leadership Theories

Directive path-goal behavior involves communicating expectations and providing feedback to employees on tasks that may be ambiguous but intrinsically satisfying. Achievement-oriented behavior entails setting challenging goals and expressing confidence in employees’ ability to meet them. This style is prevalent in occupations requiring high achievement motivation, such as entrepreneurship, science, engineering, sales, and technical. Participative leadership involves involving:

  • Involvingyees in decision-making, cons.
  • Consulting and.
  • Seeking input before making choices. Suppo

Tive leadership focuses on the well-being of employees in psychologically or physically challenging tasks or relationships, considering their needs, preferences, and satisfaction.

Trait Theory

The trait theory of leadership suggests that personal qualities like intelligence, confidence, integrity, and sociability are linked to successful leadership. Effective leadership requires a combination of traits, skills, and behaviors rather than relying solely on inherent characteristics.

In conclusion, leadership theories offer valuable perspectives on how leaders can inspire, influence, and guide their teams. Transformational leadership emphasizes motivation, inspiration, and employee empowerment. The Path-Goal theory aligns leadership behaviors with employee needs and the work environment to train and empower individuals. 

Trait theory explores inherent qualities that contribute to effective leadership. By understanding and applying these theories, leaders can enhance their ability to build trust, influence others, and create a positive and productive work environment.

Trait Theory of Leadership

The trait theory of leadership is a well-known approach that focuses on identifying specific characteristics or traits believed to contribute to effective leadership. According to this theory, certain inherent qualities and attributes predict leadership effectiveness and assess the likelihood of success or failure in a leadership role.

The core traits of effective leadership include achievement drive, which refers to a high level of effort, ambition, energy, and initiative. Leaders with solid achievement drives are motivated to excel and to lead others toward shared goals. Another important trait is leadership motivation, which reflects a leader’s desire to lead and influence others positively. Leaders with this trait are committed to achieving success for themselves and their teams.

Integrity and trustworthiness are also key traits of influential leaders. Leaders who demonstrate honesty, reliability, and ethical behavior inspire trust and confidence in their followers. Self-confidence and belief in one’s abilities are essential traits for leaders, enabling them to make decisions and take risks with conviction. Strong analytical skills and sound judgment are crucial for leaders to assess complex situations, make informed choices, and guide their teams toward success.

BUS 3012 Unit 2 Assignment 1 Leadership Theories

In addition to these traits, leaders should deeply understand their industry and other technical aspects relevant to their business. This knowledge enables them to make informed decisions, provide guidance, and effectively communicate with their team members.

The trait approach evaluates potential leaders based on physical traits, personality, intelligence, and social characteristics. Influential leaders possess emotional maturity, flexibility, adaptability, and charisma. However, judging who is a successful leader based solely on traits can be subjective and context-specific.

The trait theory helps managers assess their roles, recognize strengths and weaknesses, and develop leadership abilities. By understanding how their traits affect others, they can improve their skills and influence their teams and organizations.

How to Use the Theories to Influence and Reward Individuals and Teams

Knowing how to motivate and change people is crucial for success. In transformational leadership, the key is understanding how to bring about change in individuals and inspire them to embrace it. For example, if an employee has found a more efficient way to perform a task, a transformational leader would encourage them to share their innovation with the team. Recognizing and appreciating their contribution by awarding them the “bravo” for lead time reduction rewards their effort and motivates others to think creatively and contribute their ideas.

In the path-goal theory

The emphasis of the team culture lies in the constant betterment and innovation fostered by leaders who provide well-defined objectives and aspirations for all members. Rewarding high-performing associates with merit increases or other forms of recognition incentivizes them to continue their exemplary performance. Regular performance reviews and feedback sessions provide an opportunity to evaluate individual performance and discuss areas of improvement.

In trait theory, leaders focus on understanding and leveraging their traits to motivate and guide their teams toward achieving shared goals. For instance, if a customer requests an expedited delivery date that seems challenging, a leader with strong motivational skills would pull the team together, involve them in developing a plan, and execute the necessary steps to meet the commitment. 

Recognizing the team’s efforts and contributions in overcoming obstacles and achieving the goal not only builds morale but also reinforces the leader’s ability to understand and fulfill the needs of their team members. By applying these theories, leaders can influence individuals and teams, inspire creativity and innovation, and ultimately drive organizational success.

How to Use the Theories to Develop Interpersonal Skills for Building Trust

Effective communication helps establish trust and understanding between leaders and employees. Leaders must value and communicate with their team members to build confidence in transformational leadership. Clear and concise communication during evaluation is also essential.

In the trait theory, trust-building occurs through the leader’s ability to motivate and engage the team to execute plans and meet customer requests. By involving team members in decision-making processes and valuing their input, leaders demonstrate trust in their team’s capabilities and promote confidence among team members. Additionally, strong leaders stand by their teams, supporting them through challenges and hurdles, which further solidifies the trust relationship.


In conclusion, the trait, transformational, and path-goal theories offer valuable insights into effective leadership practices.

The transformational leadership theory highlights the importance of mentorship, trust, and the ability to inspire others toward positive change. Leaders can enhance their impact on individuals and teams by promoting transparent communication, acknowledging valuable contributions, and providing avenues for personal and professional advancement within the company’s culture.

The path-goal theory emphasizes the leader’s role in helping employees define and achieve their goals. By setting clear expectations, providing guidance, and rewarding high performance, leaders can develop interpersonal skills that build trust and contribute to individual and team success.

BUS 3012 Unit 2 Assignment 1 Leadership Theories

While the trait theory raises questions about leadership’s innate versus learned aspects, it acknowledges that leadership requires inherent qualities and applying skills and techniques. Developing self-confidence, choosing honesty and integrity, and continuously working on leadership skills are essential for effective leadership.

By understanding and applying these theories, leaders can enhance their leadership abilities, influence and reward individuals and teams, and develop strong interpersonal skills that foster trust and success within their organizations.


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