Theories of Leadership

Betina Wolfgang Rennison


The theoretical field of leadership is enormous – there is a need for an overview. This article maps out a selection of the more fundamental perspectives on leadership found in the management literature. It presents six perspectives: personal, functional, institutional, situational, relational and positional perspectives. By mapping out these perspectives and thus creating a theoretical cartography, the article sheds light on the complex contours of the leadership terrain. That is essential, not least because one of the most important leadership skills today is not merely to master a particular management theory or method but to be able to step in and out of various perspectives and competently juggle the many possible interpretations through which leadership is formed and transformed.

Keywords: leadership, management, review, roles, relations, institutions, contingency, power

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