Three general approaches have been used to understand leadership.
From the 1900s to the 1940s, most leadership studies focused a trait approach aimed at identifying individual characteristics, such as demographic factors or personality traits, those distinguished leaders from followers. Although some traits are central to leadership traits alone cannot fully predict effectiveness.
Because trait based research failed to explain why some leaders are more effective than others, researchers focused on what leadership do rather than on whom leaders are. The behavioral approach considers two sets of behaviors that leaders use to be effective; those that relate to the task and those that relates to taking care of people. Task behaviors –initiation of structure—are concerned with defining and organizing the task to help followers achieve the goals. Relationship behaviors –considerations—include behaviors aimed at creating mutual trust and respects with followers.
Since the 1960s, the following assumptions have guided leadership research and practice: what makes a leader effective depends on the situation. Before we discussed the contingency approach to management on detail, we must recall that most leadership theories have been developed and tested in Western countries. Since culture influences perceptions and expectations of effective leadership and how leaders are chosen, leadership theories do not always apply to other cultures.