Leadership means influencing others to achieve a common purpose. This influence is – adapted to the circumstances of the situation – through personal relationships, d. H. through communication and interaction. The process of leadership always takes place in areas of social units; H. within groups. The leadership process in the group involves the perception of locomotion (moving towards the objective of the group) and of cohesion (promoting group cohesion).
Leadership theories are a dime a dozen, but the dogmatic history of the leadership in the context of a practice-oriented course can only interest us marginally.
Leadership is understood as goal-oriented social influence to fulfill common tasks in or with a structured work situation. Leadership can be realized in a direct (interactional) as well as indirect (structural) form by the participants (superiors and employees). Empirical leadership research in a systematic way can only be found in the fifties of this century. The focus here is the decision-making behavior in organizations. Interestingly, there are hardly any relevant contributions to leadership research from the field of business administration. The most important disciplines of leadership research are psychology and sociology, as well as pedagogy and political science.
The following figure shows a frame of reference for the four central description and explanation approaches.
The oldest and still dominant theory. It assumes that the qualities of the leader are the decisive factors influencing the success or failure of leadership (intellectual abilities such as problem-solving ability or
eloquence, perseverance, initiative, momentum, but with social skills and character at the center) Ideal conception is the charismatic leader. Psycho-psychological approaches often lead to striking typologies, which are well marketed and therefore can be abused.
The differentiation according to decision phases (problem perception, target analysis, problem solving, decision and will enforcement) leads to decision-oriented models under the focus of the will-enforcement process.
Guided approaches include the “transactional leadership style” that is important to the “management by objectives” approach. The learning theories lead to the approach of the “accompanied self-control” of the employees.
The maturity theory is based on the consideration that employees differ in their social maturity and maturity and therefore need to be guided differently in situ. Overall, position-based leadership theories argue: “In many cases, the institutional framework impacts on the economic quality of leadership processes more than even the most sophisticated management-
psychological detailing that abstracts from this data framework!”
The most important approach of micro-sociology is role theory. According to it, the expectations of a position (eg head of department), which are placed on it by various other social positions (eg clerk, divisional director), are the main factor influencing the definition of requirements to a management task or role.
The success of the management accordingly depends largely on the expectations of central caregivers (for example, employees, supervisors, colleagues, friends) placed on a specific leadership role and how
these requirements coincide with the jobholder’s own definition and personality-related performance profile. Role theory is a very powerful approach in theory and practice.
Power is a necessary characteristic of leadership as a special expression of influence, differentiated according to owner, sources, range, costs, tactics and legitimacy of power. Another central aspect are the power bases that influence the acceptance of leadership:
Expertise, power of identification, authority, reward and punishment power.
The following figure shows a representation of prosocial dimensions and power dimensions of leadership.
They focus on the process of exchange and influence between the assumed and the accomplished in the fulfillment of common tasks. This is either about groups or two-person relationships. With this model, especially the leadership discussion is personalized, z.T. individualized, a differentiated leadership style derived and leadership understood as a reciprocal, dynamic cooperation process with a high negotiating character.
What we have already included in person, position and interaction, is now explicitly in the situation theories of leadership to the basis and reference frame concept. It is about a more realistic extension of the management model to other influencing factors of the micro and macro level on the leadership success.
The most discussed model is the contingency model (contingency = the frequency of coexisting or similar psychic traits). It uses the leadership motivation for particular relationship behaviors (on-task or employee-oriented) and juxtaposes these with the three situation variables (task structure, leadership position, leader-employee relationships).
All of the leadership theories presented here have in common that they awaken associations to experienced leadership situations, but that obviously there are no theoretical approaches that fully satisfy them.
Leadership is obviously not a real object that can be described, measured and mapped with scientifically oriented methods. Nevertheless, as will be shown, the phenomenon of leadership can be described with the help of pictorial and metaphorical representations in appropriate complexity.
The previous leadership research reveals many deficits, e.g.
■ the neglect of anthropological or ethnological perspectives
■ the lack of analysis of micro-optics in the leadership process, which also incorporates fears, fantasies and myths of executives
■ the lack of macro-oriented approach, which also includes the wider environment of leadership dyad (for example, co-determination).
■ the limited analysis of specific target groups of leadership such as middle and lower management or female leadership
■ the suppression of the “leadership from below”
■ the functional change of leadership as a result of the change of values as well as new technologies, etc.