Management and leadership styles: a look back and beyond

- Leadership

Definitions of Management: 
1. The act or manner of managing; handling, direction, or control.
2. Skill in managing; executive ability: great management and tact.

Working with capable and motivational leaders throughout your career, is as important as getting a teacher at school who encourages their students to be the best they can be. They inspire and motivate. Acting as a catalyst for a brighter future.

Get a bad one and the effect can be demotivating and damaging.

Yet management isn’t about luck of the draw (or it shouldn’t be). And it doesn’t always come from the top.

If we look back at management and leadership styles through the ages, there have been hundreds of contrasting methods. Most outdated, many didn’t stay around too long, but some were more on target; parts of their approach still exist, adapted into modern day theories.

The Great Man Theory: Yes, way back in the mid-19th century, it was considered that only ‘Man’ was great enough to have leadership qualities.

No female empowerment in the 1800s then! Of course it was never scientifically proven, but everyone, or should I say, ‘man’, agreed, that only men had the right characteristics to be leaders. Women know your place! They also theorized that we are born with the management traits, rather than having the ability to learn them.

Trait Theory: Jumping forward to the twentieth century. In the 1930s and 40s a study was published, which backed up the theory that we are born with leadership qualities. Intelligence, responsibility and creativity, were identified, as qualities, amongst 18,000 personality-relevant terms. Tests were carried out to find similar traits in great leaders. Yet through all the studies, the only two that were identified as following a pattern, were the traits of being slightly taller and slightly more intelligent!

At the turn of the 20th century, Carl Gustav Jung had already started studying the concept of archetypes, which were the basis of the latter-day psychometric test, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, widely used since the 1960s to measure how people make decisions.

Transactional and Transformational Leadership Theories: In the 1970s we started to realize that the way a leader interacts with other human beings and is able to build a relationship with them, later results in increased motivation, both for the manager and employee. The transformational theory suggested that a leader can transform a follower through their inspirational nature. While the transactional theory focused on experiences. With pleasurable experiences adding to our strengths.
The number of theories and methods is endless. But what we now understand is that great managers and leaders are as diverse as you and I.

And that you don’t have to be born with leadership traits to be positive motivators and influencers.

One person breaking boundaries in today’s field of leadership and management practice is Jurgen Appelo. His Management 3.0 way of working, focuses on the belief that the management of an organization is everyone’s responsibility. Every team member has to collaborate and take responsibility. As Jurgen suggests:

Management is too important to leave to the managers!

And this is how Jurgen’s book #Workout kicks off. #Workout takes the reader on a journey into the future of management. Bringing together interactive activities and best practices, that anyone on a team can use to improve employee engagement, organizational culture, and team collaboration.

Some of the questions the book sets out to answer:

Now’s there no excuse NOT to be the manager you want to work for!

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Photo: Joel Peel (Unsplash)

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