Situation era

The situation era significantly advanced the frontiers of leadership by looking beyond personal and inherent factors of leaders and subordinates’ characteristics. Great leaders are those who can adapt to every situation and stay on top of their duties. Three periods emerged within the situation era; the environmental period which indicates that a great leader is the one who is always at the right place at the right time (King 1990). It agrees that no specific individual is vested with leadership, but rather other individuals can rise to the occasion and lead when it matters (Hook, 1943). The practical support gained by this approach saw the proposition by McCall (1977) to develop more environmental factors for use in the context of leadership. The second period was the social status period and focused on the social aspects of a situation. It suggested that the social status of individuals influenced their leadership style and made them effective or otherwise. The third period was the nontechnical period. This period combined the environmental and social status, drawing on its strength and weakness in describing an effective leader.

8.4.5 Contingency era

The contingency era saw several theories which acknowledged no single leadership style as appropriate for all situations; therefore multiple factors, including personality, behavior, influence and situational, defined a great leader (Van Seters &. Field, 1990). Three major theories were noted within this era, namely the contingency theory, the path-goal theory and the normative theory (King, 1990). The contingency theory suggests that leaders are placed in suitable situations to match their leadership styles or are trained to change the situation to match their style (Fiedler, 1967). Similarly, contingency theory contends that there exist several ways of leading and organizing based on the relationship between two factors, namely the leadership style and the situational suitability. Therefore, a leadership style which may be effective in one situation may fail in another situation; hence contingent on various internal and external factors (Fiedler, 1967).

The path-goal theory is reported by Talal Ratyan, Khalaf and Rasli (2013) as the most effective contingency approach to leadership. The path-goal theory focuses on providing an enabling condition for subordinates to succeed rather than focusing on situation and leaders’ behavior (House, 1971). Also, the pathgoal theory concentrates on motivating factors of subordinates which may significantly influence the task (Talal Ratyan et al., 2013). The normative theory, on the other hand, submits that leaders could change their behavior to match particular situations to succeed and so effective leadership is measured by how leaders adapt to situations by changing their behavior (Vroom &. Jago, 2007). Ayman and Korabik (2010) further submit that the normative leadership theory is situationally centered and assume that leadership responds to situational determinants.

Transactional era

Role differentiation and social interaction were the underpinnings of this leadership era (King, 1990). This era looked at leadership beyond mere personal or situational factors or characteristics but rather the relationship between leaders and subordinates. Roles were clearly and mutually set and rewards and punishments attached to performance (Cherry, 2016). The transactional era also saw two periods: the exchange period and the role development period. In the exchange period, one could only be said to be a great leader, not by personal or behavioral qualities, but through the transactions between leaders and subordinates which establish a relationship. Great leaders would therefore be acknowledged by group members or subordinates as a great leader based on the strength of the established relationship (Bass, 1981). Among the theories propounded during the exchange period were the reciprocal influence approach, the vertical dyad linkage theory and the leader-member exchange theory. During the role development period, the emphasis was placed on the role of leaders and subordinates. Characteristics of this period were the development of the social exchange theory and the role-making model. A controversy, however, affected this period, suggesting leadership did not lie only in leaders but also in subordinates. This generated a great deal of confusion, sending researchers back to their roots to redefine the domain of leadership (King, 1990).

8.4.7 Anti-leadership era

The anti-leadership era emerged after a series of experiments revealed that there existed nothing like a leadership concept. In that sense of the no-leadership concept, the anti-leadership era (the belief of no leadership) was characterized by two periods, namely the ambiguity period and the substitute period. The ambiguity period posits that leadership was only a perception held by people and did not exist (King, 1990). It was reported that the perception of leadership was a symbol which had no consequence on performance (Pfeffer, 1977). Further, Miner (1975) postulated an abandonment of the concept of leadership whereas Meindl, Ehrlich, and Dukerich, (1962) intimated that changes in an organization described by the concept of leadership were not understood. The substitute period evolved from the attempt by the situational era to establish an alternative to the concept of leadership. King (1990) citing Kerr and Jermier (1978) indicated the task of subordinates as well as the organization prevented leadership from affecting the performance of subordinates. An inevitable limitation of leadership influence on the subordinates’ performance existed, thereby suggesting the introduction of substitutes and leadership neutralizers to be incorporated by leaders to ensure their continued presence and influence.

Anti-leadership era

The focus of leadership shifted from an increase of the volume of work accomplished to describe an increased quality of work. As reported by Van Seters and

Field (1990), the macro view of leadership as reported by Pascale and Athos (1981) was evident in the 7-S framework. Similarly, the search for excellence and the theory Z describes employee involvement as key to performance and shared responsibility while performing better in a trusted and cooperative environment (Peters & Waterman, 1982; Ouchi &. Jaeger, 1978; Ouchi, 1981). As an extension of the leader substitute period of the anti-leadership era, it is hoped that employees would lead themselves if leaders create a strong culture in the organization (King, 1990). Leadership was therefore automatic with an established strong culture and would require formal leadership only when the existing culture is changed. Schein, (1985) informed that organizations could run without the presence of leadership, except at the initial planning stage.

Transformational era

The most recent and promising era of leadership can be said to be the transformational era of leadership evolution. It is an improvement over all the eras discussed above and it is based on external motivation as opposed to the intrinsic motivation of earlier eras. The transformational era suggests that leaders must be proactive in thinking, be more radical and open to innovative ideas. A true leader influences and encourages enthusiasm and commitment of subordinates rather than reluctant obedience and indifferent (Yuki, 1971). Two periods are recognized in this era, namely the charisma period and the self-prophecy period. Building on the culture era, leadership during the charisma period is seen as a collective action rather than a one-person show (Roberts, 1985) towards transforming vision and giving a new and stronger sense of meaning and purpose to all who share in the mission and vision.

This period advocates for leaders who formulate and empower subordinates to carry out the vision. The charismatic leadership theory, also known as the relationship theory, emerged at this time. The philosophy underpinning the charismatic theory is its holistic nature in which leaders’ influence, traits, behavior and situational factors are combined to enhance the acceptance of the principles of leaders. The self-fulfilling prophecy period is based on the self-fulfilling prophecy phenomenon (Field, 1989). This advanced that leadership occurred from leaders to subordinates and vice versa. The model of a self-fulfilling prophecy was therefore developed within this period (Eden, 1984)- Bass (1985), in his book Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations, stressed the selection of leaders based on the leader’s ability to accomplish the task, maintain a strategic focus and facilitate group cohesion.

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