Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Leadership, Theories of
Frankie K. Williams & Diane Ricciardi & Richard Blackbourn
Leadership theories represent systematic organized knowledge to explain the nature and effectiveness of leadership. Theories provide a foundation for analyzing and predicting the complex nature of leadership behavior. Practitioners use theories as illustrations or as guiding principles to interpret leadership actions. The amount of research on leadership theories is significant to the field, since understanding theories helps researchers and practitioners assess personal and organizational behaviors. Theories give insights about leader effectiveness and influence expectations and assessments of leaders as they relate to organizational goals. The earliest theoretical studies were based on the assumption that effective leaders possess certain intellectual abilities, physical characteristics, and personality traits. Later studies centered on leadership behaviors, styles, and situations. Current theories involve characteristics of leaders who serve as change agents and visionaries able to deal with the complexity and uncertainty of today's organizations. Theory emerged during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century as ...