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  • Writer's pictureKohei Yoshino

On Leadership Theories-Part I

Updated: Mar 8, 2022


Leadership theories in applied psychology have been a popular topic for many psychologies and have evolved progressively over the last 60 years (Lord et al, 2017). Thanks to the decades of research and studies on leader development, leadership development, and leadership effectiveness conducted by psychologists, there are theories and concepts that one can draw from to improve organizational effectiveness regardless of the size, location, and complexity of the organization. Though more and more organizations are exploring ways to identify and develop future leaders, many organizations struggle to implement effective leadership development strategies given the complexity of the workplace (Landy and Conte, 2019). What this implies, on the other hand, is that there are great opportunities for future leaders to provide expertise to effectively selecting and developing leaders.


The examples of potential interventions include enabling leaders to use the four transformational leadership strategies (i.e., idealized, inspirational, intellectual, and individualized) as well as utilizing leader-member exchange (LMX) theory to increase task performance, citizenship performance, and create a supportive work environment in which workers provide commitment and a higher level of performance (Landy and Conte, 2019). To elaborate on the second point, Giles (2016) also argued that creating a supportive work environment in which employees feel safe and cared for activates both their reptilian brain and limbic brain to unleash the full potential of their higher functioning prefrontal cortex. In short, leadership development theories such as outlined above can be utilized to identify and develop leaders within the organizations.

Leaders today are required to consider factors such as telecommuting, culture, gender, and race and ethnicity into account while recognizing that there are individual differences within each group.


One of the biggest challenges with regard to leadership development is the complex work environment caused by globalization and technological advancement. Leaders today are required to take factors such as telecommuting, culture, gender, and race and ethincity into account while recognizing that there are individual differences (e.g., personality) within each group (Landy and Conte, 2019). For example, though the large cross-cultural study of leadership called global leadership and organizational behaviour effectiveness (GLOBE) helped us understand that there is a list of universally accepted leader attributes (Landy and Conte, 2019), there is no one size fits all solution to solve the challenges faced by the leaders today. In addition to the cultural nuances, leaders must be aware of the leadership style difference of men and women (i.e., men and women holding different images of the ideal leader) as well as the potential gender bias that exists within their organizations. In creating a supportive work environment in which employees feel safe and cared for, it is absolutely crucial that organizations provide leaders with opportunities to reflect on their own bias around culture and gender and appreciate the differences that exist in the workplace.

My Vision

As a leadership coach and IO psychologist, I bring value to organizations through developing strategies based on evidence-based leadership theories and methodologies to address the gap that currently exists in their leadership development structure. Though the consultation process varies depending on the organization, as an expert I help the senior leaders of organizations develop strategies that take different elements (e.g., culture, gender, personality, etc) into account in order to develop future leaders and create a culture in which employees feel safe and cared for. As part of the consultation process, I also ensure to evaluate leadership effectiveness by looking at not only organizational performance but also the employees’ satisfaction.

If you are committed to making changes within your organization or interested in learning more about this topic, book a complimentary consultation session here:


Giles, S. (2016). The most important leadership competencies, according to leaders around the world (Links to an external site.). Harvard Business Review.

Landy, F.J., & Conte, J.M. (2019). Work in the 21st Century: An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology (6th Ed). Wiley

Trosten-Bloom, A., Deines, T., & Carsten, T. (2014). Positive performance management: Bold experiments, provocative possibilities. Performance Improvement, 53(5) 26-37.


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