What are contemporary views about leadership?
There are many different views about leadership in the contemporary world. If anything, one could say that what marks twenty-first-century theories about leadership is that they embrace diversity in a manner that was uncommon in the twentieth century. Most experts now agree that diversity in gender, culture, ethnicity, and ways of thinking are essential to good leadership teams.
Two major types of leadership are:
Autocratic leadership: In this model, the leader is completely in charge and makes all major decisions. Subordinates are expected to obey this leader without question In politics, Saudi Arabia and North Korea exemplify this style. In business, autocratic leadership is sometimes effective in industries employing unskilled workers with high turnover, but it is ineffective in most other industries. This type of leadership is less admired now than it was in the past.
Participative or democratic: In this type of leadership, employees of all levels have input into decision-making. This tends to result in higher morale and, often, better decision-making because it takes full advantage of the skills, experience, and knowledge of all workers. Its main limitation is that it can be slow and inefficient.
Nowadays we expect our leaders to show the humility to take counsel, to be advised, to be well briefed on world issues and to act as part of a team rather than act as an arrogant dictator or tyrant. Of course, in many countries of the world, this does happen and the populations are not empowered by the use of the vote. However, in the democratic countries, for example those in Europe, leaders are expected to lead a team. In England for example, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown was crticized for not being 'collegiate.' This is a relatively new word meaning working co-operatively with colleagues. It is important for many leaders to remember that it took more than one person to get them there - an election campaign can number thousands of team workers working on the ground and on the doorsteps - and the winner is now expected to remember that once he/she is in power and in a position to select a team.
This is such a broad question that there will be no consensus. The modern world does not have a singular type of leadership. You have people like the leader of North Korea, a total madman, or people like Nelson Mandela, a man of peace. Then you have people like President Obama, who believe in diplomacy for the most part and others like former President Bush, who used both diplomacy and military action. Then you have non-political leaders like Bill Gates, who is arguably one of the most successful men ever by being an incredible businessman. Then there are others like Bono, a charismatic singer who leads by example. The list goes on.
Leadership is the ability to influence behaviour of group towards achievement of some common goals of the group. Such influencing power can be formal authority enjoyed by the formal position of the leader - for example, a manager in a company, or an officially elected representative of a group of people. But the essence of leadership is not such formal power but the influence acquired by people by virtue of their personal qualities and behavior.
There are several useful theories about nature of leadership that help us to understand the nature of leadership, and take positive action identify good leaders for formal leadership positions and to develop leadership qualities among people to make them better formal leaders.
Various theories related to leadership are broadly classified in four groups - trait theories, behavior theories, contingency theories and neocharismatic theories. Trait theories of leadership attempt to identify personality, social, physical and intellectual traits that are generally possessed by effective leaders.
Behavioral theories of leadership differentiate leaders from non leaders and classify them in different types by their behavior pattern. One of the most well known of such leadership model is the managerial grid model developed by Blake and Mouton. Other important studies in this area include Ohio State studies and University of Michigan studies.
Contingency theories try to identify the factors and conditions that lead to development and rise of leadership. The most well known among such models is the Fiddler contingency model. According to this model, effective leadership depends upon a proper style of interacting with subordinates and the extent to which the situation gives control and influence to the leader.
Neocharismatic theories of leadership emphasize symbolism, emotional appeal and extraordinary follower commitment. This groups of theories covers types of leaderships such as charismatic leadership, transactional leaders, transformational leadership, and visionary leadership. Charismatic leadership emerges as a result of followers making attributions of heroic or extraordinary leadership abilities when they observe certain behaviors in the leaders. Transactional leaders are effective in guiding and motivating their followers towards achievement of established goal in a relatively stable situation. In contrast transformational leaders who are able to direct and inspire their followers to pursue a path of improvement, setting newer objectives, and moving in uncharted directions. Visionary leadership is marked by ability to create and articulate a vision of the future for an organization that improves upon the present.