Last updated: March 17, 2019
Topic: SocietyHistory
Sample donated:



Leadership is the ability of individual to influence and motivate the followers effectively to achieve the goal (Shawn Powell Joseph, 2007). Leader’s responsibility lies not just in achieving the goal, but also in organizing the work. So leaders should be the role models, capcitators and psychological supporters to the followers and set the goal according to circumstances. The theorists of leadership argue that the effectiveness of leaders depends on the situation (Emily Spencer). So, the situation plays an important role in determining the effectiveness of leadership.

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The impact of leader on followers depends on behavior of leader and also the characteristics of the situation. Many leadership models have taken account of the relationship between leaders and followers and also stressed on the situation variables that affect the performance of leadership. Each leader has their own preferred style in dealing with the problems and challenges to motivate and maintain relationship with followers effectively. The characteristics of the assignment and the contribution of followers influence the style of leadership.The current paper tries to focus on the era of leadership styles. There are four eras of leadership. Those are pre-classical, classical. Modern and post modernism era.
Pre-Classical leadership

Pre-Classical leadership is concerned with the spirituality and maintained by divinity and controlled by fear of death. This era of leadership is observed during the times of kings and queens. In this era, the leaders had the spiritual or magical capability. The kings and queens will be the leaders in this era and their authority is exerted in the form of brutality and cruelty.  The majority of the leadership roles were occupied by male population.

Classical leadership

This era has long duration within the history. This era is strongly based on the belief that the leaders are born and made. The leaders are natural leaders in this era. This leadership era continued till 1940. Classical leadership is based on trait theory of leadership. The classical leadership model says that the leader has some physical characteristics like personality, abilities and aptitudes to get success as leader Classical leadership is suitable for stable situations and does not give importance to the interaction with the followers. This leadership develops the clear goals to the followers and it is the era that focused with a structure appropriate to the problem and the circumstances. It manages the external environment, task, facts, logic and clarification of authority. This approach is useful when goals and information are clear, when there is little conflict, low ambiguity, low uncertainty, and a stable legitimate authority. The classical leadership is exercised by organizations to maintain the workers who are inefficient. This leadership is practiced through the process of organize, control, command, decide and manipulate for the results. It is used to get the essential job done, run the organization at minimal costs and is used to make a division of labor. The leader usually leads the followers by grouping them as different groups. The followers are expected to do the hard work by the leaders. And there would not be any recognition or significance to the follower’s work and were just treated as inefficient and lazy. There would not be any chaos in the work as the followers receive strict guidelines from the leaders.



Modern leadership

The characteristic of modern era is the increase in the quality of work and act of authorization (Crawford, Brungardt and Maughan).The modern era is based on rationality and predictability. The modern leadership is also called as the charismatic leadership. It became popular in the era of 1970’s. The leader inspires the followers and gives the opportunity to discuss about changes and problems. The followers can work in creative environment. Leader and followers shares the ideas which was not allowed in the previous eras. Modern leadership involved the manipulative things to take chance of authority and power.

This leader believes that stability and stagnation is no longer the key for competitiveness. Leader is the change agent and visionary for transformational change. Empowerment is the mantra, and “Unlock the potential of everyone” has become the norm in the modern age. Followers became important entity in the leadership process. This type of leadership believes that everybody has worth to perform their work. The power is shared to encourage team work. A direct interaction between followers and leader enhances the opportunity to discuss the issues and changes but the follower has to meet the terms of management.

Post modernism leadership

Post Modernism can be defined as going back into the past to reclaim lost ideas and then to add new thoughts about what needs to happen. The “post” means “after,” and “following upon.” (Myungseon Oh). It is the era developed after 1980’s. In this era, individual’s look for the opportunity to grow and individual will not commit, perform, or contribute in work unless the shared vision is supportive to the personal vision. There is no longer the assumption that an employee will perform the assigned task unless there is a correlation between the assignment and personal interest. It is about implementation of best of both worlds approach but without the certainty of the ‘age of science’ – Modernism. The post-industrial world is represented by this era which is sensitive to the demands of the information society and change. The post modern leadership consists of confusion unpredictability and opportunity. The post modern leadership focus on recognition of the dominance of specialized knowledge associated with visionary leadership, gives only temporary and quick authority to the proposal, Gephart (1996) as cited in Trent Keough & Brian Tobin. Visionary leadership inspires change created from voluntary choices (Trent Keough & Brian Tobin, 2001).

This era depends on teamwork, risk leadership models and new democratic agenda. The followers will acquire new roles in collaboration and agenda building and they are also the equal partners in the leadership relationship.


Convergence of these eras

All these eras, the leadership was styled but the role of leader and responsibility holder is not changed. The role of leader is to give motivation to the followers. In all these eras the leader is committed to motivate and inspire the followers to achieve the goal or objective. In all styles the leader’s duty is to motivate the people to do to the assigned work. The leaders were intended to act according to the situations in all these eras. Situation is an important factor in determining the kind of leadership patterns to be adopted by the organization. In order to be effective, a leader must be sensitive to the organizational situation (Myungseon Oh, 2003).

Divergence of these eras

All the eras are divergent at the interaction with the followers and characteristics of leaders. Classical leadership does not have any interaction with the followers and simply they have to do the task, what the leader assigns. The pre classical leadership is dominated and cruel leaders and is controlled by fear of death. The modern era has the opportunity to maintain interaction between leaders and followers. The post modernistic era gives equal importance to followers and leaders in agenda building and the leader inspires and encourages the followers for optimum output. The pre classical leadership era only shows the male domination in the leadership realm, whereas the remaining eras gave opportunity to both males and females.


Pre classical, classical, modern and post modern eras were the different leadership styles followed at different ages of history. These leadership eras were adopted by society according to the circumstances of that age. However, irrespective of the style and model, the role of the leader as a responsibility holder, has not changed across the eras. Each of the leadership style has their own strengths and weaknesses and hence one is evolved as a need to change according to the new demands.












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