15 May 2009Leadership and its relevant studies are traced back to the beginning of civilization. Work environment, leaders, leadership style, managers, and many features that are associated with work have continuously been studied for the past two centuries. With time, organizations have changed from those employing authoritarian type of leadership to the ones associated with working in more comfortable environment giving birth to organizations that people have power, supported, motivated and are helped to professionally grown. Thus, the aim of this paper is to examine the evolution of leadership and to highlight some attributes of a good leader. Leadership began with the beginning of civilization.
Greek heroes, Egyptian rulers and even biblical patriarchs have all demonstrated leadership. However, there have been various definitions and theories of leadership but all have one thing in common – need to have power so as to induce compliance. The early organizations employing authoritarian leadership believed that employees were intrinsically lazy, which was followed by a myriad of changes that later transformed the organizations into places people are encouraged, powered and motivated, and all this progressively changed the development of leadership (Bass, 2000).
The study of leadership can be traced to the Industrial Revolution in which economies changed from agricultural to industry based. This transformed the way that leaders treated their employees, creating a paradigm in which common persons gained power because of skills that they possessed. Moreover, technology developed resulted in mechanization, which contributed in the creation of hierarchical bureaucracy. A renowned person who contributed to the theory of leadership was Max Weber, and Morgan (1997) analyzing Weber state “observed the parallels between the mechanization of industry and the proliferation of bureaucratic forms of organization” (p.
17). Weber’s concerns contributed to the development of other theories such as Fayol’s classical management theory and Taylor’s scientific theory. The classical theorists focused on designing the total organization while the scientific managers were determined on systematically managing the individual jobs (ruthless efficiency, qualification and control). Even though the approach of the theories is different, they translate into the same goals that require organizations to be rational and should operate in the most efficient manner possible, which translates into high-level productivity.
Due to concentration on mechanization of jobs, it undermined the aspect that organizations are complex organisms. Due to the shortcomings of scientific and classical schools, the environment and worker needs contributed into the development of new theories. Theorists such as Hawthorne redefined the principles of Maslow. Hawthorne viewed that work situation was influenced by reactions of people, design and structure of organizations, which later influenced work activities. Maslow understood that individuals operated at their maximum and effectively, if their specific needs are satisfied (Russell, & Stone, 2002). Maslow championed the idea of intrinsic and extrinsic strategies in ensuring that worker needs were focused.
Hertzberg’s Dual Factor Theory improved on the ideas of Maslow and concluded that intrinsic and extrinsic needs should be met simultaneously. Moreover, Herzeberg studies provided insights into incentives, goals that tended to satisfy the need’s of the workers. This resulted in Herzeberg grouping the needs into hygiene and motivational factors.