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Complexity Theory Models of Leadership with Other Models of Leadership Compare and Contrast Essay


Leadership is a contemporary issue that has been viewed differently among many people. This is because leadership has different aspects, styles and models and there are also different contexts of leadership.

Generally leadership can be defined to be the process of mobilizing a group of people with common interests to achieve a common goal. In a more complex view, leadership is the process where on person influences another person or a group of people by seeking their support and helping them accomplish a common task.

Good leaders are said to be born and not made. This view can be justified because anyone with a will and desire to lead can become a leader. Inborn leaders improve their leadership qualities by a process of training and study of leadership. Influential Leaders practice their career by applying their dexterities.

The act of practicing dexterities is known as procedural leadership. Some leaders allow their traits to influence how they lead and this is referred to as trait leadership. While leadership is learnt, the person’s traits and values largely for example their beliefs influence and how they lead.


This paper is generally about leadership and the various concepts and aspects of leadership. It provides detailed information about the different models of leadership and their various differences and similarities. It however majors on the complexity model of leadership and how it is similar and different from the other models of leadership.

Models of leadership are generally the different ways of executing leadership and are clearly stated in this paper. The models of leadership are different in nature and their styles because leaders employ different ways and methods in leading other people.

Overview of leadership

A leader as earlier defined is the process of influencing a group of people or certain people to achieve a common goal. Leaders are different in their leadership styles and methods. Some leaders use excessive power and control on their followers while others only take responsibility of the task and the act of accomplishing it but are not so controlling.

Some leaders involve their followers in decision making while others make decisions on their own and their followers only compliment them. Leadership has various factors that make it. The first factor of leadership is a leader.

Finchman and Rhodes state that a leadership must have an effective leader who is honest and believes in his or her abilities and in him or herself. A leader should also be able to have a full understanding of him so that other people can understand him too (Finchman & Rhodes, 2003 p. 230).

Another factor of leadership is the followers. These are the people who are under the influence of the leader. The followers have different needs because of their different natures and therefore the leaders should use different leadership styles when leading them. A leader should therefore understand his followers so as to know their needs and what they require and lead them appropriately.

Communication is also another factor of leadership. This is the process of transmitting information from one party to another. To establish good leadership, there has to be good communication between the leader and the follower. Giber states that communication is a two way process and in leadership most of it is non-verbal for instance when a leader communicates the way that works is supposed to be done (Giber, 2009 p. 314).

Situation is also another factor of leadership. What is done in a particular instance differ with what is practiced in another showing that what is acted on one event will also work in another. A leader must therefore use his knowledge to decide on what action to take in that particular situation.

Roberts states that the situation is a very critical factor of leadership because it has affects the actions of the leader more than his traits. This is because traits are not consistent in every situation (Roberts, 2007 p. 210)

Models of leadership

Models of leadership are the different styles that leaders use to lead their people. This shows how leaders understand their followers and lead their people depending on their needs and the situation of leadership. Some leaders more attention to the needs of the followers and lead according to those needs while some leaders pay more attention to the needs of the organization and lead according to those needs.

Leadership models can also be said to be leadership theories and they are always founded or explained by scholars of organizational behavior and scholars of human relations in organizations. Ebener postulates that organizational behavior is the relations in an organization and how different people in an organization interact so as to achieve their set goals. (Ebener, 2010 p. 157)

Organizational behavior is mostly influenced by how the organization views the human aspect of the organization and how the organization determines how the people in the organization should behave. Leadership types can be classified into three types which are the administrative type, the adaptive type and the enabling type.

Hellriegel and Slocum postulate that the administrative type follows the administrative rules and policies and they are rarely flexible because administrative policies are fixed and take a long process to be altered. (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2007 p. 134)T

he adaptive type is the one that adapts to the situation at hand. It is where the leader will lead the followers in accordance to their characteristics and their demands. It is said to be the flexible type. The enabling type gives opportunities for the followers to be what they want to be and even more than they want to be. It gives them the chance to lead themselves and be responsible for their own actions. It is not so strict and it is flexible.

Complexity leadership model

This is the leadership model that is defines its scope from complexity science. Complexity science is the process of interacting systems in a complex way. Complexity theory tries to look at how the nature of interaction in the complex systems.

Rost states that the complexity leadership theory tries to determine the positive and negative efforts of the leaders on organizational behavior that will ensure that the organization is effective instead of the efforts that will just guide the organization into effectiveness but not ensure that it is effective. (Rost, 1993 p. 125)

Complexity science heavily majors its conceptions of leadership on psychology for example human related theories. This develops the meaning of organizational complexity and relates it to scientific concepts of leadership. According to Mullins, the leadership styles of the past century were not considerate due to their control nature and their top-down systems of bureaucracy. (Mullins, 2005 p. 154)

They were more suited for economies that concentrated on production and not that concentrated in the increase of knowledge. The complexity model of leadership is a modern model that allows for learning, adaptability and innovativeness.

Even though the complexity leadership advancement redirects emphasis from one particular leader but still maintains the importance of leadership in an organization. Complexity leadership model does create a new sense for leadership by considering leadership within the boundaries of the complex adaptive systems.

McKenna believes that complex system of leadership carry in a new concept to the theory of leadership, grasping the concept of leadership in terms of events that comes but not an individual (McKenna, 2007 p. 390).

A complexity analysis indicates a form of strewn leadership that doesn’t depend on a person but rather in a vibrant way where any an individual can act as a follower or a leader depending on the situation and intentions.

Other types of leadership models

There are various other types of complexity models that can be either compared or contrasted with the complexity model

Transactional leadership model

This type of leadership model is mostly common with structures that have already developed fully and that have a well laid out operation system and adequately defined rewards and punishment policies. In this model performance of the followers is valued and the organizational culture is maintained. This style of leadership ensures that a good performance is rewarded while a bad behavior is punished.

According to house, transactional model is business or transaction oriented and therefore it leads by punishing wrong doers or underperformers and rewards those who perform well. (House, 2007 p. 43) It is the type of leadership where the leader is comfortable where the rules of conduct are adequately defined. This model also pays more attention to the rules rather than the human resource.

Transformational leadership model

This model of leadership is human friendly view. It tends to consider the human part of the organization. Transformational leadership is where the leader believes that when the needs of the people in the organization are satisfied, then they will work effectively.

House states that this type of leadership makes people believe that they can do anything and that people will listen to and follow a leader who inspires them and who is focused and has a vision and a drive to achieve big things. (House, 2007 p. 27) A transformational type of leadership is therefore full of energy and passion and a lot of co-operation and enthusiasm. There is less restriction and control

Participative leadership model

This is the type of leadership that allows all the employees from all sections and departments of the organization to involve themselves in the decision making process of the organization. It also improves the interaction between employees and their commitment to the decisions made is enhanced.

The decisions are also very reliable because they are made jointly by people from different backgrounds and who have different opinions and views. It sometimes does not allow employees to make decisions but instead only to give their opinions

Situational leadership model

Organizations are dynamic in nature. This means that there are a lot of changes that take place in an organization. This means that situations of the organization change often and therefore leadership cannot be restricted to only one style. According to Moohead and Griffin this model allows leaders to change their leadership styles according to the situation of the organization. (Moohead & Griffin, 2009 p. 175)

In this type of leadership, the leader is very flexible and can change with the changing situation. The leader therefore should be able to wear different hats for different situations. This type of leadership could be likely preferred by many leaders because it enables them react and adapt to changes easily and quickly as compared to a leadership model where leaders follow strict guidelines or are not flexible

Charismatic leadership model

A charismatic leader is one who is able to move and influence his followers to perform well by his ability to persuade them.

He persuades the employees through powerful and kind words and also through his actions. Velsor et al state that this leadership style changes the perspectives of employees for example an employee who believes he is weak and cannot perform will be persuaded by a charismatic leader until he believes that he can do it. (Velsor et al, 2010 p. 105)

Differences between complexity leadership and other models of leadership

Complexity model of leadership does not rely so much on the human aspect of the organization because the leader relies on the interaction of the system while all these other models rely on the human aspect because leaders interact with the followers and there is some level of closeness. The complexity leadership model allows for learning and adaptability to take place within the leader himself and also among the employees.

This means that there is less control and more learning and interaction taking place while the other models for example transactional model allows little interaction between the leader and the follower and the leader is more dominant. The leader decides on what the employees should do with little participation from the employees.

Complexity models have no chains of command or leaders followed because of its bureaucratic nature. The other models like the transformational and charismatic, there is a leader who inspires the employees and who shows them what to do. The employees follow him and believe in him

Similarities between complexity models and other types of models

All the models have a leader and a follower for example the complexity leadership model has a leader who ensures that the organizational objectives are achieved while the transformational leadership model ensures that employees perform well by guiding them through the organizational policies. Another similarity of the models is that there is interaction between the leader and the follower.

In the charismatic leadership model, the leader interacts with system to ensure that the organization is successful while in the participative leadership model, the leader interacts with the follower or the employee to ensure that the employee performs to the level required. A common and obvious similarity between the models is that in every model there is a distinct leader and a follower.


A good leadership model is the one that allows a leader to change his leadership style from time to time to adapt to the changing situation and to the followers instead of just sticking to one style. Different leadership models are applied to the organization because of the different nature and factors of leadership


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Rost, C. J (1993) Leadership for the twenty-first century. London: Greenwood Publishing Group. Pp. 220

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Roberts, C.D (2007) Deeper learning in leadership: helping college students find the potential within. Chicago: John Wiley & Sons. Pp. 235

Ulrich, D., Zenger, H & Smallwood, N (1999) Results-based leadership. Canada: Harvard Business Press. Pp. 234

Velsor, V. E et al (2010) The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development. Chicago: john Wiley & Sons. Pp. 528

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