Organizing and Leadership Theories 5 pages

Leadership Theories


Different Ways of Organizing in Supervision and Management


Organizing constitutes a crucial management function. It is essentially concerned with task allocation, division of labor, chain of command, lines of authority and communication, delegation, span of control, as well as supervision and coordination (Shafiee, Razminia & Zeymaran, 2016). The manner in which these processes are organized significantly influences organizational effectiveness and efficiency. It determines how quick or slow decisions are made and implemented. This is particularly important in a constantly evolving environment, in which agility is a crucial parameter of competitive advantage (Felin & Powell, 2016). Organizational structure also shapes relationships between superiors and subordinates (Shafiee, Razminia & Zeymaran, 2016).


There are different ways through which the organizing function may be executed. For instance, organizational structure may adopt either the centralized or decentralized form. The former entails concentrating decision-making authority in top organizational positions, while that latter involves distributing decision-making authority to lower levels of the organization (Bunderson et al., 2016). Organizational structure may also take the vertical or spatial form. A vertical organizational structure entails a narrow management span and several hierarchies, while a broader span of control and lesser hierarchical levels (Felin & Powell, 2016) characterize a flat/spatial structure. In addition, organizational processes are also grouped according to functions (such as finance and marketing), product divisions (such as food products and personal care products), or geographic locations (such as North America, Europe and Asia) (Altman, 2016).


It is important to note that no single structure applies to all organizations. For instance, organizations in vibrant, active industries often require structures that permit agility and responsiveness, while those in stable, staid industries may often succeed with more rigid structures (Felin & Powell, 2016). In addition, an organization may deploy more than one structure at the same time. For instance, an organization may combine the functional and divisional designs, resulting in what is referred to as the matrix structure (Altman, 2016). Essentially, every structure presents its own merits and demerits.


For instance, a tall or centralized structure usually ensures clear accountability, faster flow of authority, quicker decision-making, better coordination, and less conflict (Bunderson et al., 2016). Nonetheless, such a structure may hinder creativity and reduce employee motivation, ultimately affecting performance and productivity (Bunderson et al., 2016).


On the other hand, a flat or decentralized structure often enhances autonomy and empowers individuals at lower levels of the organization to make decisions, which may in turn minimize bureaucracy as well as foster creativity and innovation (Felin & Powell, 2016). Organizations such as Google and 3M have benefited significantly from such structures. Nonetheless, allowing extreme autonomy, especially to individuals that are not accountable, may cause an organization to lose control over the working and affect decision-making (Felin & Powell, 2016). In addition, decision-making may be slowed since different perspectives must often be taken into consideration (Bunderson et al., 2016). Therefore, discretion must be exercised when attempting to flatten or decentralize an organization. Moreover, a blend of the functional and divisional structure (matrix structure) may address the challenge of directing workflow authorizations to the appropriate individual, but may create confusion and interpersonal conflicts if there is no clear clarification of roles (Altman, 2016).


Overall, the different approaches to organizing present their own strengths and limitations. An organization must carefully weigh the associated merits and demerits, with specific consideration to factors such as its size, geographic scope, product portfolio, and industry of operation. Careful selection of organization structure is crucial for guaranteeing organizational effectiveness and efficiency.




Altman, M. (2016). HR organizational structure — past, present, and future. Workforce Solutions Review, July Issue, 13-15.


Bunderson, J., Vegt, G., Gantimur, Y., & Rink, F. (2016). Different views of hierarchy and why they matter: hierarchy as inequality or as cascading influence. Academy of Management Journal, 59(4), 1265-1289.


Felin, T., & Powell, T. (2016). Designing organizations for dynamic capabilities. California Management, 58(4), 78-96.


Shafiee, H., Razminia, E., & Zeymaran, N. (2016). Investigating the relationship between


organizational structure factors and personnel performance. International Journal of Management, Accounting and Economics, 3(2), 160-165.


Organizing 1


Leadership Theories 3


Part 2: Leadership Theories


The importance of effective leadership in organizational success is indisputable. In fact, leadership is what differentiates successful and high-performing organizations from the rest. Leadership is essentially the process of guiding a group of people to achieve a defined goal or objective (Landis, Hill & Harvey, 2014). Scholarly work on the topic of leadership has produced several theories that describe the characteristics and behaviors of successful leaders. Generally accepted theories of leadership include trait theories, behavioral theories, situational (contingency) theories, as well as power and influence theories.


According to trait theories, leadership is an inborn quality that some individuals have (Kunnanatt, 2016). For instance, an individual may naturally possess assertiveness, integrity, agility, confidence, as well as excellent communication and problem solving skills. These are some of the qualities that make great leaders. Nonetheless, critics of the trait theory have argued that leadership qualities can be acquired through experience, training, and development (Kunnanatt, 2016). The adage “leaders are made, not born” has actually become popular in the contemporary world.


Critics of trait theories have particularly argued that successful leaders are defined by their behaviors, not their innate qualities or how they come out to others (Kunnanatt, 2016). In this regard, leaders can either be production-oriented or employee-oriented, or autocratic or democratic. Production-oriented leaders or autocratic leaders focus on the task at hand, with little consideration to the needs of employees. Though this style of leadership often facilitates quick decision-making, it may hamper employee motivation. Employee-oriented or democratic leaders on the other hand view employees as a valuable asset, and thus create an atmosphere where the views, concerns and needs of employees are taken into consideration. This style of leadership has been termed as the most appropriate, particularly in today’s work environment, where teamwork and collaboration are important (Kunnanatt, 2016). Nonetheless, it may slow down decision-making when different perspectives have to be considered.


From a trait and behavioral perspective, individuals often have their own expectations about the character of leadership. They have beliefs about how a leadership should generally behave and what is expected of them (Nichols & Erakovich, 2013). This gives rise to the Implicit theory of leadership (Schyns, 2006). The Implicit theory argues that individuals possess inner beliefs, convictions, value judgments, and preconceived notions that influence their behavior and interpretations of the world around them (Bauer, 2015). These beliefs and convictions are often shaped by factors such as societal or corporate culture.


Trait and behavioral theories have not offered the ultimate solution to the problem of leadership. Another group of theories, situational theories, argue that leadership effectiveness is a function of the leader’s traits, behaviors and the context of leadership (Kunnanatt, 2016). In other words, the effectiveness of leadership tends to vary from situation to situation. While a certain style of leadership may be relevant in a certain industry environment, it may not be applicable in another. A closer look at today’s workplace actually reveals that different organizations in different sectors and industries tend to have their own unique style of leadership. Perhaps contingency theories offer a more practical approach to leadership compared to trait and behavioral theories.


While situational theories have become popular, another set of theories has also emerged — power and influence theories. These include transactional leadership, transformational leadership and visionary leadership. The transactional style of leadership views the leader’s position of power as vital for influencing their followers (Kunnanatt, 2016). This power places the leader in a better place to manage daily operations more efficiently. Though transactional leadership can enhance follower compliance, it may not lead to the anticipated level of enthusiasm and commitment amongst followers as the leader often focuses on providing followers with something they need in exchange for something the leader needs (Washington, Sutton & Sauser, 2014).


Transformational leadership focuses on motivating and inspiring followers by fulfilling their top-level needs and involving them in decision-making (Kunnanatt, 2016). The leader energizes their followers with an intent and purpose to induce transformation at both the employee and organizational levels. Therefore, transformational leaders focus on converting followers to leaders, which is the major strength of transformational leadership. Finally, visionary leadership is all about monitoring and sensing changes in the organization and its operational environment, and acting on them quickly (Kunnanatt, 2016). This is important for thriving in a constantly changing environment.


Whereas the above theories have successfully guided leaders in developing, motivating and inspiring their followers, Kunnanatt (2016) argues that contemporary organizations continue to become increasingly complex and larger, making it quite difficult for any one of the theories to solve the leadership problem on its own. Leadership has become a more challenging undertaking as diverse knowledge workers and high performance teams characterize organizations today. Additionally, organizations now exist in a highly vibrant world, where agility is crucial. As such, Kunnanatt (2016) is of the view that leaders must borrow from multiple theories. They must be transformational, transactional, and visionary at the same time.




Overall, leadership is a subject that has attracted immense scholarly attention over the years. While some schools of thought argue that leadership is defined by inborn traits, others argue that it is defined by behaviors. Others view leadership as a context-dependent variable, while others see leadership from a power and influence perspective. Each of these schools of thought has its own strengths and limitations. A more effective leadership would perhaps be one that blends the various approaches. In other words, an effective leader is one with certain characteristics and behaviors, one who can adjust leadership style based on the circumstances at hand, and one with the ability to transform their followers.




Bauer, D. (2015). Successful leadership behaviors in Slovak organizations’ environment — an introduction to Slovak implicit leadership theories based on GLOBE study findings. Journal of East European Management Studies, 20(1), 9-35.


Kunnanatt, J. (2016). 3D leadership — strategy-linked leadership framework for managing


teams. Economics, Management, and Financial Markets, 11(3), 30-55.


Landis, E., Hill, D., & Harvey, M. (2014). A synthesis of leadership theories and styles. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 15(2), 97-100.


Nichols, T., & Erakovich, R. (2013). Authentic leadership and implicit theory: a normative form of leadership? Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 34(2), 182




Schyns, B. (2006). The role of implicit leadership theories in the performance appraisals and promotion recommendations of leaders. Equal Opportunities International, 25(3), 188-199.


Washington, R., Sutton, C., & Sauser, W. (2014). How distinct is servant leadership theory? Empirical comparisons with competing theories. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 11(1), 11-25.

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