UGC NET Study Notes on Theories of Leadership – Part 1

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 26th, 2023

Leadership is the activity of a leader in which he influences his followers, to strive willingly towards achieving the objectives of the group.

  • Some authors emphasise on personal attributes and traits of the leader.
  • Some other authors emphasise on the actual behaviour and action of the leader.
  • Some authors emphasise on the situation in which leadership is to be exercised.

Main theories of Leadership are:


  • One of the earliest notions of leadership, which was popular between 1930 and 1950.
  • This theory states that the persons who are leaders are psychologically better adjusted to display better judgment and to engage themselves in social activities.
  • Trait theories believe that leadership traits are inherited or inborn and these cannot be acquired by learning.
  • Henri Fayol divided the qualities of a leader into educational, technical, physical, mental, moral and experience.

The following important traits must be possessed by leaders:

  • Intelligence – ability to think scientifically, analyse accurately and interpret clearly and precisely the problems before them.
  • Physiological factors – Height, weight, physique, health and appearance have a very strong impact on the personality and success of the leadership.
  • Emotional Stability – Leader must be consistent in his actions and should know how to control anger.
  • Intense Inner motivational drive – Leaders should have the inner urge to keep on achieving the goals all the time.
  • Human relations attitude – Leaders should always try to develop a social understanding with other people.
  • Vision and foresight – A successful leader should have the ability to look into the future, envision future trends and formulate policies and actions.
  • Empathy – A good leader should have the ability to observe things or situations from the point of view of others.

Criticisms of this theory include:

  • Trait theory does not hold good for all circumstances
  • The list of traits given by different authors are different, thus it is not uniform.


  • As per this approach, Leadership involves an interpersonal relationship between a leader and his subordinates in which the leader’s behaviour towards his subordinates constitutes the most important aspect.
  • The good behaviour of the leader increases morale and motivation, raises the confidence and team spirit among the team members.
  • Lack of good behaviour will discard one as a leader.

Criticisms of this theory include:

  • This approach does not take into consideration the situational variable. The style suited may vary depending upon the situation prevailing.
  • This approach does not take into consideration the time factor as well. A particular behaviour may be good at one point of time but may not be good at some other point of time.

Two important behavioural theories are Michigan studies and Ohio State University Leadership Studies.

A- Michigan Studies

Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan, conducted a study to identify different styles of leadership behaviour that result in higher satisfaction and performance of a group.

These studies differentiated between two distinct styles of leadership:

  1. Production Centered Leadership (Task-oriented leadership) – This focused on :
    • Rigid work standards, procedures and rules
    • Close supervision of subordinates
    • Employees are to be considered as tools to accomplish the goals of the organisation and not as human beings.
  2. Employee Centered Leadership (Relation oriented leadership) – This focused on :
    • Treating subordinates as human beings
    • Show concern for employees, needs, welfare etc.
    • By inspiring respect and trust, much better performances can be ensured.

Even though both the styles of leadership led to increased productivity, it was slightly better in production centred leadership. However, production-centred style led to decreased satisfaction, increased turnover and absenteeism.

B- Ohio State University Studies

  • Studies were conducted by the Bureau of Research at Ohio State University to identify major dimensions of leadership and to investigate the effect of leader’s behaviour on employee behaviour and satisfaction.
  • The study narrowed the description of leader behaviour into two dimensions :
    • Initiating Structure – Behaviour of the leader in creating a relationship between himself and members of the group.
    • Consideration – The behaviour which can be identified by Friendliness, respect, trust, supportiveness etc.

The leader can be high on both dimensions, low on both dimensions or high on one and low on the other and vice versa.


  • Formally known as Vertical Dyad Linkage Theory.
  • As per this theory, the leaders do not treat the subordinates equally or in an equitable manner.
  • Almost all the leaders have some in-groups and some out-groups.
  • People in the ingroups are those with whom leaders establish close interpersonal relationships, on the other hand, leaders keep a distance from people in the outgroup.  


  • Charisma is a leadership quality or trait which can effectively influence employees to take early and sustained action.
  • Charismatic leadership is a type of influence that depends upon the leader’s personal charisma.
  • Research shows there is a positive correlation between charismatic leadership and high performance and satisfaction among followers.

Mock tests for UGC NET Exam

UGC NET Online Coaching


Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium