imagesIf leadership isn’t really a trait and it isn’t totally a skill, maybe it’s a behaviour. There are sort of two schools of thought that propose that leadership is behavioural in nature.

Situational Theory suggests that different situations require different behaviours or styles of leadership. To be successful, what you need to do is adapt your behaviour to fit that new situation.

What you might say? You can’t adapt behaviour. And yet we’re all very good at adapting our behaviour to ft the situation. You don’t behave the same way at a party if your boss is there as you behave when you’re getting together with friends from university. (Or if you do then you’re probably committing multiple CLMs (Career Limiting Moves.))

Contingency Theory on the other hand says that a leader’s effectiveness is contingent on how well her style matches the specific needs of the situation. Under Situational Theory, you adapt your behaviour whereas in Contingency Theory you match your behaviour.

People must be getting rich developing theories and never coming to a conclusion as to what leadership really is.

As a trait, you can’t improve leadership. If it is a skill, you just need to go to a few classes and we know that only works for such things as setting a vision. If leadership is a behaviour then, how do you improve it? Well coaching seems to work but that is difficult and expensive.

Ask yourself how you lead. Do you do it naturally or think about it? Do you do it from the head or the heart? Or is it a bit of all of the above. At this point in time, I’m seeing the merits and shortcomings of all of the theories and perhaps, like you, getting frustrated by the subject. But I’m not finished yet.