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Listed below are the ten leadership theories worth reflecting on in order to help you become a more effective leader.

1. The Great Man Theory

This theory postulated that great leaders are born and not made. You either have great leadership or you don’t. The theory also attempted to identify the traits all great leaders have in common, but there are too many to be concise. One weakness of this theory is that we now understand that a great deal of leadership can be learned.

 2.  The Trait Theory of Leadership

This theory states that their are certain characteristics or traits that help us lead effectively. A shortcoming of this theory is that there are so many leadership traits that work, it is hard to narrow down a single set of traits.

3. The Skills Theory of Leadership

This theory looks for certain skill sets within a leader that make the leader successful. These skills involve technical skills, people skills and conceptual skills.

4. The Style Theory of Leadership

This theory focuses on the different styles of leadership. For example, some lead with an autocratic and demanding style and others a democratic style that invites participation.

5. The Situational Leadership Theory

This theory argues that there is no one size fits all model of leadership. A good leader would adapt their style, skills, traits based upon the current situation they are leading. Effective leaders learn to adapt.

6. The Contingency Theory of Leadership

This theory understands that though a leader can and needs to adapt to the situation, the leader still defaults to his or her own style, personality and approach. So, the trick is to fit the right leader to the right situation. Effective leadership is contingent on matching the leader’s style to the right setting.

7. The Transactional Theory of Leadership

This theory says that people will follow leadership if there is a fair and equitable transaction that takes place – if the incentives match what is required of them. So, the leader’s job is to find the right mix of rewards and punishments.

8. The Transformational Theory of Leadership

This theory states that leaders gain buy-in and commitment by encouraging, inspiring, and caring for their followers towards a vision. Leaders get results by transforming the environment and relationships.

9. The Leader-Member Exchange Theory

This theory says that effective leadership occurs when there is a fair exchange between the leader and those being lead. Both sides benefit from the exchange that takes place.

10. The Servant Leadership Theory

The theory believes that the leader is the servant of those he or she leads. The leader is focused on serving rather than being served.  The servant leader creates an environment of trust and cooperation, which results in reciprocal service and ultimately higher performance. Much of Jesus’ approach to leadership used this model.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. What leadership theory approach best describes you right now and why?
  4. Explain what leadership theory was the most interesting to you.
  5. What is a strength of your leadership from what you learned from these theories?
  6. From watching the video what is something you could improve on as a leader?
  7. What really resonated with you as you watched the video?
  8. What are a couple of things you could put into practice from the leadership theories?
  9. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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