BUS401 Study Guide

Unit 2: Leadership Theory

2a. Describe the key traits of an effective leader

For generations, society has attempted to describe the traits which relate to effective leadership. In one form or another, you are likely either currently a leader in some regard, or you will be some time in your life.

  • What are the traits of effective leaders?
  • Which leadership traits do you believe best represents the type of leader you are or could be? Why?

To review trait theory, see Trait ApproachLeadership Traits, and 8 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs.


2b. Compare and contrast the competing behavioral theories of leadership

Managers who subscribe to Theory X assume employees dislike work and conserve their energies, rather than putting themselves fully into their work. Theory Y tells us that managers act on a notion that employees back organizational goals and therefore are committed to their work.

  • How do you think employees respond differently to so-called Theory X managers and Theory Y managers?
  • How would you explain the University of Michigan behavioral studies of the 1950s and 60s to a friend, family member, or co-worker?
  • What was the Ohio State University behavioral study from 1945? Why are its findings important?

To review, see What Do Leaders Do? Behavioral Approaches to Leadership and Behavioral Approach.

2c. Analyze the impact of situations on leadership effectiveness

No two organizations are the same. As such, situations arise which call upon the leader to react to or adjust to the situation they find themselves in.

  • There are times when management should be proactive. Why is this?
  • When managers have to be reactive to a situation, is this a negative mark on their abilities? Why or why not?

To review, see What is the Role of the Context? Contingency Approaches to LeadershipBoss' Habits = Situational Leadership, and Contingency Approach.


2d. Describe the skills associated with effective leadership

There will always be disputes regarding effective leadership. Remember that organizations are made up of individuals, and individuals have particular differences, preferences, biases, etc.

  • How can a leader provide the necessary skills to be useful in a situation?
  • How do or should leaders address their limitations when called upon to lead in particular situations they have little or no experience with and may lack the required skills?

To review, read Introduction to Competencies.


2e. Assess the effectiveness of visionary leadership

1. We often expect leaders to possess some vision to help lead, guide, direct, and convince others that the business organization has a use or benefit to the marketplace as a whole.

  • What is a visionary leader? What informs your answer to the previous question?
  • What are some examples of individuals who are visionary leaders? Why?
  • If a leader lacks a vision for their organization, movement, or purpose, are they ineffective? Why or why not?
  • For each of the leaders you identified, what are their visionary qualities? Why did you choose them?
To review, see The Seven Qualities of Visionary Leaders and Key Behaviors of Transformational Leaders.

2. Analyze the concept of transformational leadership. There are those leaders who invite change, even appreciate it. Take this opportunity to evaluate their leadership abilities.

  • Transformational leaders accept change readily. Does this mean they create more problems than they resolve?
  • Are transformational leaders beneficial to their organization? Why or why not?

To review, see Key Behaviors of Transformational Leaders.

4. Transformational leaders are more employee-centered than organization-driven.

  • Is this an effective way to manage an organization? Give arguments that support both points of view.
  • Why do transformational leaders have varying approaches?
  • Who are some transformational leaders who reflect these traits?
  • Do transformational leaders need to have all of these traits?
  • If you had to rank them in terms of importance, which would be first? Which comes last? Why?