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Leadership Types:

A Reflection Based on Degree and Manifestation

Barring the classification scheme, how, then, can we define leadership types, in other words, how could we measure the "degree" of leadership and the way it is manifested? We discussed in the article Reflection on Motivational Theories the meaning of a leader not being "normal", i.e., standing out from the rest, but what gives rise to such a situation? What can motivate a person to take on any leadership types, be it in the form of a simple guidance or "full-blown" leadership, such as being in a high elected office or as a dictator? They may have some general psychological reason for acting, as we have described but this may be translated through a specific occupational area, something they do on a regular basis.

There are "peeves" or concerns that people have in each of these areas that they may want to see addressed. How passionate the people are and how they are constituted psychologically helps determine whether they will be leaders and if so, what will be there natural leadership type or leadership types. Hence, it is not simply the subject itself, that motivates people, but something deeper - perhaps, the urge to see a point of view dominant.

One must be careful, here about the word "motivation". On one hand, one can simply "fall into" a situation in which a leader is necessary, a coordinator, if you will, in the mild sense. The person facing such a situation has a choice: acquiescence or retreat. What would be the motivation for the former, if we are to ask what motivates a leader? The same can be asked if the person refuses, but we would no longer be talking of that person being the leader. Consequently, only the former applies. On the other hand, a person may seek a situation in which she or he can at least guide, if not command others. Here, we can conceive of a scale ranging from reluctant acquiescence to aggressive seeking. One may ask how they may detect an arena in which a leadership situation may be developing. Let's take an analogy. We talk of temperature, but we must have something which can have a temperature in order for temperature to be measured. Any substance will do, but, nevertheless, we must have it. The same is true for leadership. We may talk about intensities and leadership types, but it is helpful to find a medium in which leadership occurs, better yet if the medium allows to distinguish between the leadership types. One should be reminded at this point about the meaning of leadership, and we said earlier that it means the inequality of individuals with regards to the direction, composition, manner in which an activity should occur with respect to one person having a principle guidance or directive function. Leadership can be as simple as showing another person how to do something. It should be regarded, certainly at this level, in a non-pejorative sense.

How does a person act in the social medium the way they do? We may think of a way of categorizing motivation theories by what drives people in terms of occupation or interest area. A convenient way of cataloguing what people do is found by the way societies are structured, exemplified by:

  • Social
  • Political
  • Economic
  • Religious
  • Military
  • Educational
  • Vocational
  • Scientific
  • Psychological

Being the governor, dean of a university college, priest, union boss, project scientist, or general constitutes a person thrust into or aspiring to be at least a guide if not a leader in their field. (Keep in mind that vocational orientation and training are academic subjects, although the technologies, themselves are not.) We also can see these social areas as general descriptions of academic disciplines. Add to these actual vocations and we have a fuller set of areas in which a person can assume a "leadership" role. As a quick aside, the North American Industrial Classification (NAIC) lists thousands of occupations. Bear in mind, however, that with any classification scheme, there is a great deal of cross over, as when a person may be working in a vocation but also be extremely religious, wanting to promote her or his competency in the vocation, as well as the religion. Fields can be combined, such as political economy from politics and economics. What is "political", as opposed to "economic", for example? Categories in the social arena are heuristic; they are convenience devices to group phenomena. Categories merge and diverge; there are no clear-cut boundaries, especially when measurement does not exist. One can refine these classes, but, as in statistics, we can regard these as samples and extrapolate further categories. Yet, the method will be the same, only yielding more detail. We see "leaders" in each of these fields, but we can ask whether there is a basic undercurrent or structure in leadership types, personalities, and so forth for all of these categories. Does it make any difference, for example, that the leader is acting as an electrician or a university professor? Is there particular leadership types that could be associated with different fields?

Static and dynamic aspects of classification

You also have the dynamical issues of initial, continuous, and terminal motivation. Someone may be motivated by the initial conditions that draw her or him into leadership, such as a problem needing solution. As the leadership continues, the problem may turn into one being oriented more towards management. As the issue recedes, there may be the consideration of how to exit the situation. Each situation might call for different leadership types or styles. We see this all the time with revolutionaries. A regime is corrupt and the people need change. A revolution occurs, and the tyrant is overthrown. The leader(s) come to power and start governing, often by radical means. The new state emerges, and bureaucracy sets in. The leader ages, and then becomes reluctant to leave. Stalin, Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and even Charles De Gaulle are examples.

Motivations can change not only with environmental conditions but even within the short time span of a day. A motivation may revolve simply around whether a person is a "morning person" or an afternoon one, a bad cup of coffee or meal, or the way light is reflected from an object. Personalities are shaped by a variety of factors, and these personalities shape motivations.

In considering "motivational theories", what about intent? A person says they are doing something because they are "moved by ..."? Is this an utterance for the audience, does it tell accurately why the person is doing something? Again, we need to think about measurement, and this harks back to validation. As noted, cognitive neuroscience may offer a way out of this dilemma. One should ask whether any of the plethora of motivational "theories" discusses this problem. This all says nothing about the dynamism of intent or multiple intents.

Numerous tests, such as the Myers Briggs or Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) represent the alchemy stage of our understanding of personality and how it is shaped. These tests are now where chemistry was in the medieval period. As with the phylogenetic or evolutionary tree, we are now considering whether evolutionary history should not be based on the more measurable DNA. Classification systems, themselves, in other words, are dynamic, they being coupled with our observations and methods.

Share your thoughts

Sharing your motivating thoughts or your motivational tips will benefit every leader. Motivation is what give them the energy to constantly seek to improve their self-motivation as well as motivating other. Consequently increase our leadership influence.

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