Contemporary leadership theory
Leadership theories developed over the last 30 years generally fall within the situational leadership category (Jex, 2002). As covered in the prior section, Fiedler’s (1964) contingency theory proposed that leadership success depends on an interaction between the characteristics of the situation and the leader's characteristics. The path-goal theory attempted to offer a comprehensive theory that blends leadership and employee motivation to explain how the role of the leader is to help subordinates become successful (House, 1996; House & Mitchell, 1974).
This section will consider the assumptions, contributions, and limitations of three more contemporary theories that offer additional insight into leadership. James MacGregor Burns’ (Burns, 1978) transformational leadership theory will show how leadership traits can inspire followers to perform beyond their abilities. Dansereau, Graen, and Haga’s (1975) leader-member exchange theory will show how the unique relationship leaders develop with each subordinate can influence the satisfaction and performance of the subordinates. Robert Kelley’s (1996) followership theory will provide insight into followers' role in leadership.