Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

Critical Evaluation of the Evolution of the Traditional and Contemporary Leadership & Management Theories


In today’s economic context, effective leadership is a vital component of any organization’s ability to achieve success. Regardless of how talented a company’s employees are, it will not succeed unless a strong leader guides it through its operations. Leadership is defined as the capacity to persuade a group of people to work together toward a common objective to achieve that goal. In a corporate context, the role of the leader is to guide and steer personnel following a strategy to achieve the company’s plans, which is known as strategic direction (Baker, 2013, p.50). When it comes to achieving an organization’s goals, effective leadership establishes a framework for cooperation among its personnel. Ancient leadership featured command and control organizations that recognized the leader’s authority and delegated power to subordinates. Organizations have been obliged to change their leadership structures due to globalization to stay competitive globally, but this has been a difficult task (Owings, 2017, p.72). As a result of globalization, new ideas fit for use in today’s business organizations have evolved and gained acceptance. Theories of leadership are schools of thought that attempt to explain how people become leaders by highlighting the qualities and behaviors that individuals must cultivate to improve their leadership abilities and skills in various situations. This example shows that leadership is a dynamic and constantly changing process. This article will examine traditional, contemporary, and new leadership theories and the most successful strategies for sustaining a company’s success in the face of increased competition to account for the rising competitiveness of the market.

Traditional Leadership Theories

Trait Theory

As a result, it is referred to as the attribute approach to leadership since it was one of the first leadership theories to emphasize a leader’s characteristics strongly. Physical and psychological features, as well as attitudes and abilities, are all included in this category. Looking at leadership from the viewpoint of the individual leader is predicated on the idea that certain characteristics result in consistent patterns of behavior across a wide variety of situations (Baker, 2013, p.54). Each individual is endowed with the ability to serve as a leader, and this characteristic has remained surprisingly constant throughout history. To support the notion that individuals are born leaders, it is necessary to demonstrate that they are born with distinct physical and psychological characteristics that distinguish them from non-leaders from the beginning of their lives (Harrison et al., 2020, p.208). You’re looking for physical traits such as height, intellect, self-confidence, effectiveness, and charm, among other things, in a potential partner. Personal devotion to revolutionary leaders who are perceived to be supernatural, superhuman, or possessing magical powers is the most powerful extreme force because it can orient people through their devotion to revolutionary leaders who are perceived to be supernatural, superhuman, or possessing magical powers, which is the most powerful extreme force.

To stress the importance of feature theory, I feel it is necessary to mention that it is closely tied to Great Man Theory, which holds that leaders are born with the essential qualities and talents to lead. Most effective leaders, in this perspective, are born rather than created. Their ability to communicate effectively and their knowledge and self-assurance distinguish them from others in the field. At the sound stage in their careers, these executives demonstrate guts, are well-known and are well-positioned to ascend to the pinnacle of the corporate ladder. Because males dominated the majority of leadership posts, particularly in the military, the phrase “great man” was coined to describe someone who embodied these characteristics in their life (Harrison et al., 2020, p.212). Because of their capacity to influence events, these individuals were hailed as heroes by the general public. Nazi Germany and Napoleonic France served as examples of powerful rulers whose authority was eventually rendered ineffectual due to organization and the desire for democracy among their subjects.

Behavioral Theory

In contrast to trait theory, this perspective emphasizes leaders’ acts and behaviors rather than their general qualities or leadership characteristics. All of this boils down to effective leadership, which may be developed via acquiring acquired skills and abilities. To lead people effectively in this setting, individuals must exhibit technical, human, and intellectual characteristics. Technical abilities suggest a solid grasp of the process; interpersonal abilities imply the capacity to interact effectively with colleagues, and conceptual abilities indicate the ability to produce the ideas required for successfully learning a firm. This notion discusses the degree of trust and rapport that a leader may develop with their following. The leader’s role is to guide and explain functions, therefore generating a stake in the organization’s overall success. The overwhelming majority of leaders in this nation are democratic or pro-democracy. Additionally, the notion implies that the leader drives desirable behavior by using incentives and sanctions to accomplish the intended outcome. Employers recognize and reward workers who exceed expectations while disciplining those who fall short of goals.

Contemporary Leadership Theories

Contingency Theory

According to this school of thought, particular factors inside a given context define the most appropriate leadership for that scenario in question. This has resulted in no one leadership style is acceptable in all circumstances. A successful leader, among other things, achieves the finest possible balance between needs, conditions, and actions on the part of the team (Heller, 2019, p.226). To be a good leader, one must possess the necessary characteristics and be capable of gauging the expectations of their subordinates and the circumstances in which they find themselves. A successful leader is the result of a mix of an individual’s characteristics and the environment in which they perform their functions. The personalities of these individuals are most fitted to meet and exceed the demands of the circumstances that they find themselves in. In these situations, the ability of the leader to adjust to the changing circumstances is vital to their success.

Leader-Member Exchange (L.M.X.)

The theory is a concept that attempts to explain how leaders and members interact with one another. The premise is that individuals in positions of authority over lower-level workers are not always fair in their treatment. A small group of staff members with whom a leader has a strong interpersonal tie described by Bauer and Erdogan (2015, p.224) as a common characteristic among leaders. The strategy also proposes that the same leaders maintain an appropriate level of distance from their employees to avoid developing emotional attachments to those employees. While in-group workers have great dedication and confidence in their company, out-group employees do not have a personal relationship with their supervisor. Leaders often choose members of an in-group because they share similar ideals and personality characteristics.

 Situational Theory

This idea seems to be similar to contingency theory. It demands leaders to use a range of leadership styles based on the situation or the degree of development of their team members. As a team manager, success is described as the capacity to respond to team requests while keeping the whole company in a good state of equilibrium (Fuller, 2019, p.92). Taking up management and support responsibilities in this situation demonstrates the most basic level of leadership conduct. Typically, a leader’s management style is centered on task definition. To be successful in a company’s supportive behavior, the development of a team must be a collaborative effort, including all of the organization’s personnel. The ability of an organization’s employees to cooperate and be motivated is crucial to the achievement of its objectives.

Emerging Leadership Theories.

Path-Goal Theory

According to this view, effective leaders are those who participate in behaviors and talents that are appropriate for the workplace to achieve a certain objective. When it comes to selecting behaviors for their staff, leaders make decisions based on their own needs and the environment in which they do business. They may need to steer their colleagues appropriately to achieve their daily job goals (Clarke, 2018, p.97). Employer enthusiasm, employee happiness, and employee empowerment are all important goals for leaders to achieve for employees to contribute to the firm’s success as productive members of the workforce. It was expectation theory that inspired the development of the path-goal hypothesis, which holds that leaders behave in a certain manner in the hope of accomplishing a particular objective. When the outcome is favorable, the act is more likely to be repeated as a consequence of the act’s effect on the development. Directors are often directive, goal-oriented, supportive of their subordinates, and actively involved in the day-to-day operations of their companies. They are also well-known for having a lot of aspirations.

Value-Based Theory

Value-based leadership theory holds that individuals are more likely to be motivated by values they meet in an organizational environment than by other types of deals (Busch & Murdock, 2014, p.116). Consequently, practically all people are constantly preoccupied with their values and strive to live up to them due to this underlying assumption. It shows that moral conceptions or desires are intrinsically motivating human beings. When it comes to making organizational choices or developing its vision, C.E.O.s often rely on their perspectives as guidance. Because values are generally attractive to the general public, leaders may learn how to do so from their subordinates due to this phenomenon. Employing simple decision-making techniques helps build trust among employees and customers, which is essential for value-based leadership to grow (Busch & Murdock, 2014, p.118). According to this hypothesis, organizations established on shared ideals are more productive and adaptable than organizations founded on individual members’ or investors’ values. Because these values serve as a source of inspiration for all members of a company and a point of reference for everyone inside the organization, it is important to emphasize them.

Transformational Theory

Transformational leadership is concerned with bringing about change inside a company’s organizational structure. These leaders are sometimes referred to as change agents in the workplace since they urge their subordinates to adopt new behavioral patterns in the workplace. According to their job description, they are responsible for reorienting workers’ perceptions on current concerns via the process of reflecting on previous obstacles in a fresh light (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013, p.108). These leaders must instill the ideals and motivation of their subordinates for them to work together to achieve the organization’s shared objective. To benefit both people and the company as a whole, transformational leaders work hard to bring all members of an organization together in a collaborative effort. Transformational leaders work hard to bring everyone together rather than being just concerned with themselves and their interests. This results in increased trust, loyalty, and respect for the leader, resulting in a higher willingness to work even more in the coming years. According to Clarke (2018, p.99), this group of executives can see the need for change and, as a result, design a vision that serves as a guide for the organization’s transformative process.

Responsible Leadership Theory

According to this approach, leadership and stakeholders should be driven by values and ethical standards in their interactions with one another. Leaders ensure that the same aim and understanding unify all stakeholders in their companies. After extensive study and analysis, responsible leader bases their righteous judgments and decisions on current norms and standards (Clarke, 2018, p.104). The courage to criticize erroneous organizational traditions is a trait that ethical C.E.O.s should demand. Their job is to take a stand and speak out when these folks violate the law.

The most effective theory to keep an organization competitive

After analyzing and evaluating all theories, the transformational leadership theory is the most successful for maintaining an organization’s competitiveness in a changing competitive environment. As a result, transformational leaders have the charm and passion essential to inspire their people to innovate and implement the change necessary to ignite the organization’s development and long-term success (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013, p.122). This is only possible if the executive level leader provides a positive example by, for example, developing a strong corporate culture, supporting employee ownership, and increasing employee freedom in the workplace. As seen by the following criteria, transformative leadership maintains a high degree of confidence and belief in its trained employees’ abilities to assume significant assignments and make critical choices for the firm’s benefit. Consequently, workers are empowered to innovate, placing them on the cutting edge of identifying solutions to internal business difficulties (Baker, 2013, p.60). Due to the availability of highly competent, imaginative, and driven personnel, it is much simpler for a business to swiftly integrate and adapt new and changing technologies into its operations system.


All leadership theories emphasize the critical role of leadership in an organization by emphasizing that leaders serve as the heads of institutions tasked with the primary responsibility of steering the organization in the proper direction. The success of an organization is contingent upon the efforts of its leaders, which indicates that it cannot function well without them. Organizations develop strategies, visions, and goals via their members’ leadership, and all members work to accomplish those goals and objectives under the direction of their leaders. True, leadership principles have evolved through time from their most fundamental forms. New concepts are emerging in today’s contemporary and globalized society that will be critical in sustaining firms’ competitive advantages in the global market. Traditional leadership theories, such as the trait theory, put a high premium on an individual’s physical characteristics. Physical characteristics are not considered in today’s society when choosing who should hold leadership roles inside a firm or organization. Historically, leadership theories put a premium on leaders since they were the only ones with authority to make decisions in any given organization. Some of these leaders became authoritarian due to their choice to exclude subordinates from decision-making. Contemporary leadership theories seem to have shifted the emphasis, with leaders becoming more democratic in their decision-making, including employee input. It is opposed to previous leadership principles. Certain principles, such as contingency planning and situational leadership, may benefit the performance of their subordinates. Given that leadership must change to fulfill the demands of all organizations in a constantly changing environment, new theories to address these requirements are always being developed. The transformational and path-goal approaches are popular because they emphasize employee motivation and the need for innovation to adapt to an ever-changing environment. By and large, an organization’s leadership style has a significant impact on its success.

Reference List

Avolio, B.J. and Yammarino, F.J. eds., 2013. Transformational and charismatic leadership: The road ahead. Emerald Group Publishing.

Baker, J.P., 2013. Leadership theories and approaches. Leadership in psychiatry, pp.49-62.

Bauer, T.N. and Erdogan, B., 2015. Leader-member exchange (L.M.X.) theory. The Oxford Handbook of Leader-Member Exchange.

Busch, T. and Murdock, A., 2014. Value-based leadership in public professions. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Clarke, N., 2018. Responsible leadership. In Relational Leadership (pp. 89-106). Routledge.

Fuller, M.B., 2019. Trait and Behavioral Leadership Theories. The leadership of Higher Education Assessment, pp.74-104.

Harrison, C. and Harrison, H.I.M.D.C., 2020. Traditional Paradigms of Leadership: A Critical Insight into Established Theories and Concepts.

Heller, F.A., 2019. Leadership, Decision Making, and Contingency Theory. In Managing Democratic Organizations (pp. 211-227). Routledge.

Owings, W.A., 2017. Contemporary Theories: Leadership as a Shared Process. In Organizational Behavior for School Leadership (pp. 70-105). Routledge.


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics