This is quite contrary to the theories developed by Kurt Lewin, Ronald Lipitt, and Ralph White in 1939 which state that there are only three major styles of leadership:
Authoritarian style of leadership assumes that the leader has all the information necessary to make the right decisions. For this style of leadership to succeed employees must unconditionally accept the power of the leader and follow directions without questioning them. It does not mean that the leader can use demeaning language, engage in abusive or unprofessional behavior. As you can well imagine, this style of leadership may work well in the military but it rarely achieves the desired goals in a non-military work setting. Why? People don't like to be ordered to do things without explaining the rationale for the directives and without a clear understanding of the end goals.
The participative style of leadership is much more common in companies where the leader includes one or more employees in the decision making process. The leader still makes the final decision and is responsible for the outcome of the decision. This style recognizes the strength and knowledge of key employees and is a sign that the leader is secure, confident and is not afraid to seek counsel from others. This is a style that most employees respect.
The delegative style of leadership must be used wisely and only if the leader has the full trust and confidence of peers and the team. This style of leadership assumes that the employees empowered to make decisions understand the end goals, are able to obtain and analyze the required information before taking any action. This style must be used only if the leader is not quick to blame others even if decisions made by employees causes things to go terribly wrong.
Social scientists over the past century have come up with many leadership theories. Most well known among them are:
- "Great Man" theories assume that leaders are born, not made.
- “Trait” theories assume great leaders share particular traits that make them well suited for leadership.
- “Contingency” theories purports that environmental and external variables, including the type of followers determine the person best suited to lead.
- “Situational” theories states that people who can recognize situational variables that affect the outcome of an action or decision are best suited to be leaders.
- “Behavioral” theories are based on the supposition that great leaders are made not born which is the exact opposite of the "Great Man" theories.
- “Participative” theories suggest that good leaders elicit input from other members of the group before making decisions.
- Management theories also known as "Transactional theories" are based on a system of rewards and penalties. Good leadership is rewarded for accomplishing the stated end goals while failure to meet them are seen as signs of poor leadership and are punished.
- Relationship theories also known as "Transformational theories" is the best form of leadership where leaders are able to motivate, transform and inspire their group members. It is no wonder that leaders who belong to this group have the highest ethical and moral standards.
Transformational leaders are ones who have learned the art of leading from behind. They listen to the people around them. They usually surrounded themselves with smart problem-solvers who do not need to be told what to do. Transformational leaders spend their time focusing on what they should be doing to achieve the end goals because they know that the people around them will do the same without having to be micromanaged or told what to do every step of the way.
"To steer a boat you have to move to the back. Leadership is about asking questions and letting people answer them," says Anne Berkowitch co-founder of SelectMinds a social networking company in New York.