One of the major methods used to study leadership is the scientific method. The scientific method relies on causality of action of the leaders in relation to their subject. This means that scientific method of studying leadership dictates that the concept of leadership can be tested to ascertain the expected outcome of every action.
In addition, the scientific approach of studying leadership is so objective that social factors play a minimal role in the study. Culture, tradition, and values of the society are also of no importance in the study. The scientific approach begins with posting a question or a dilemma. This question concerns a particular aspect of leadership that is not well understood at the beginning of the study.
The question may not be very specific in the first stage of finding the solution. For example, the scientific researcher may ask a general question on the reason for the varying rates of success among leaders who are all dedicated to their work. Such a question is broad and does not categorize leaders according to their specific leadership styles (Mumford, 2010).
The researcher then develops a link between two or more aspects of leadership, and the performance of the leader. The behavior of the link or the relationship between the aspects of leadership, and the effect on the subjects of leadership are then theorized.
Development of a theoretical relationship between a leadership style and the effects of the particular leadership approach is done through logical reasoning to eliminate the least likely relationships.
This is done such that a theoretical relationship exists between the aspects of leadership and the effect on the subject of leadership (Klenke, 2008). The theoretical relationship has to undergo some testing using a specific scientific hypothesis to establish its validity as a fact.
Scientific method of studying leadership relies on specific method of evaluation. Regulations governing the hypothesis being used must be followed strictly for the results to be valid. On the other hand, the validity of the results does not affect the nature of results of the study.
A certain order of events in the study must be observed such that repeatability of the method is possible. In real situations, the scientific method may not accurately match the real results.
This is due to the complex interaction between the factors affecting leadership pin the real world situation, and the method of study. Moderation of the results of a scientific study on leadership is necessary to ensure that the results are an approximation (Mumford, 2010).
This method of studying leadership is advantageous due to the fact that it has the capability of providing objective results. This means that the method relies on the ability of the chosen scientific procedure used in the study, rather than the beliefs of a theorist.
On the other hand, there is a setback in that the scientific method assumes that all aspects of leadership are causal. The concept of causality means a particular style of leadership is likely to have the same effect on the subjects of the leadership even when repeated several times (Bien & Marion, 2008).
An example of application of scientific testing to determine the validity of a theory as a scientific fact was an experiment using some confederate leaders by Howell and another scientist known as Frost.
There was a theory that charismatic leaders produce better results than planning leaders. This theory was proved true through a scientific approach. Thus, success was scientifically established as a trait of charismatic leaders (Bien & Marion, 2008).
Bien, M., & Marion, R. (2008). Complexity leadership. Charlotte, NC: IAP, Information Age Pub..
Klenke, K. (2008). Qualitative research in the study of leadership. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Pub..
Mumford, M. D. (2010). Leadership 101. New York: Springer Pub..