Posted by: Ron Loza | November 9, 2010

Test Your Leadership Skills

Leadership theory has evolved over many years. Some of the first theories, called “Trait” theories were based on the thought that leaders were born, not created, and they possessed certain traits not found in others. Trait theory has been largely eliminated as a valid theory because it has been found that many good leaders posses different traits.

The second round of theories, called “style” theories, stated that one need only “copy” or “adopt” a style of leadership. Style theories have also largely been eliminated because people cannot “fake” a style of leadership.

Largely accepted are the “contingency” theories that state that one can vary their style within a range of styles to fit a situation. Types of leadership range from directive or authoritative (think military) to the other extreme of team decision making. To learn more about these theories search the internet for “Path-Goal Theory,” “Hersey & Blanchard,” or “Normative Theory.” Too lengthy to discuss these theories here but they are good to know if you find yourself in any type of leadership position (job, volunteer, coach, etc).

Most recently I’ve read some theories about “Authenticity” leadership. The basic premise is that you are authentic, you know your strengths and weaknesses, you don’t fake it by trying to cover up your weaknesses.

Leadership theories will continue to evolve because generations evolve so learning to be a leader is not a static task or something you learn in a classroom setting. You must constantly learn, adapt, and evolve.

One game I like to play that strengthens my leadership knowledge is to watch the first couple of episodes of each season of The Apprentice. By applying a leadership theory such as the Normative Theory, I try to predict who will ultimately win. You would be amazed how well it works. Just like exercising to stay in physical shape you need to exercise your brain to think like a leader. Have fun with it.

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