Theories and models of leadership are like snowflakes…
At one time people believed that leaders were “born, not made”, that certain inherited personality traits made them naturally great. However, when researchers began seeking evidence of this, the belief quickly proved to be false.
Researchers then began to ask questions like: “What do leaders do?” (Hemphill & Coons, 1957). The thinking was that people can learn or be trained to become leaders. And research led to the identification of various categories of leadership behavior.
Fred Fiedler (1967) was one of the earliest researchers to investigate a situational approach to leadership. He showed that, to be most effective, leaders need to adapt their behavior to changing situations.
From the 1980’s onwards there have been many more studies into what interaction of traits, behaviors, situations, and so on, allows people to lead most effectively. Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus (1985), believed in “transformational leadership”, and developed the four I’s:
Kouzes and Posner (1987) did extensive research into leadership and developed another model, their “five practices” are:
Even though there are many minor differences between theories, or brands of leadership models, most share some common themes:
Leadership competencies are leadership skills and behaviors that contribute to improved performance. Competency-based models of leadership, while not completely free of criticism, do enable organizations to identify high potentials and develop their next generation of leaders.[i]
Researchers have identified essential leadership competencies that are consistent across organizations. These are divided into three categories: leading the organization, leading the self and leading others in the organization (see below).[ii]
When selecting and developing leaders, one needs to consider the competencies that the individual currently possesses and those that need further development for success in a leadership role.
Developing successful global leaders provides a competitive advantage for multinational organizations.[iii] Global leaders face unique challenges that require additional competencies: managing a diverse group of employees and business processes; adaptively approaching problems and challenges; adjusting to new values and cultures; and adapting to different types of business and personal pressures.[iv]
To address the unique challenges of global leaders, researchers have identified global leadership competencies that can contribute to success. Among these global competencies,
are critical to success in the global environment.[v]
Morgan McCall and George Hollenback studied many successful global leaders and developed a list of common competencies specific to the global leader.[vi]
Do you have what it takes?
[i] Brownwell, J. (2006, Fall). Meeting the competency needs of global leaders: A partnership approach. Human Resources Management, 45(3), 309-336.
[ii] Adapted from McCauley, C. (2006). Developmental assignments: Creating learning experiences without changing
[iii] Caligiui, P. (2006). Developing global leaders. Human Resource Management Review, 16, 219-228.
[iv] Kramer, R. (2005). Developing global leaders: Enhancing competencies and accelerating the expatriate experience. New York: The Conference Board.
[v] Rosen, R., Digh, R., Singer, M. & Phillips, C. (2000). Global literacies: Lessons on business leadership and national cultures. New York: Simon & Schuster.
[vi] McCall, M., & Hollenbeck, G. (2002). Developing global executives: The lessons of international experience. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.