Leadership Theories and the Role of Icuenglish

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Leadership is amongst the most discussed topics in the social sciences (Avolio et al., 2003 and Bass, 1990). The earlier theories started with the ‘great men’ concept and focused on the personality and the behaviour of successful leaders while the later focused on the role of followers and contextual factors. In light of these shifts, in the first section, this essay will review some of the leadership theories and the relationship between the leadership and the culture creation. Bearing in mind the relevant leadership theories one may ask ‘what is the role of a leader in a start-up enterprise?’ This essay argues that a leader is the architect of a start-up enterprise and has significant influence on all the decisions and shapes the future of the company. Therefore, in the second section, this essay will present leader’s role on corporate branding and how he/she shapes the company’s characteristics by influencing all the aspects at the early stages of company life cycle.

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Review of leadership theories

According to Johnson (2009), Machiavelli might have been the first person to write about leadership phenomenon but it has started with the ‘great man’ theory introduced by Carlyle in 1840s. Carlyle (1888) believed that leaders are exceptional people who born with distinctive qualities and destined to lead. However, this theory lacked in application as the study was based on historical leaders who have certain physical characteristics and achieved the power through birthright (Johnson, 2009). Nevertheless, some authors followed the ‘great man’ theory route but focused on the common key characteristics of the successful leaders to identify list of traits such as self-confidence, desire to influence others, adaptability, intelligence and so on (Bolden et al., 2003). This stream of research came to a dead end as each study contributed a new trait to the theory and it was difficult to measure traits (Bolden et al, 2003). In his seminal review of trait theories, Stogdill (1948) concluded that leadership is a result of working relationship between the leader and followers. Eventually, after this study, trait theory evolved into a study of leadership behaviours (Johnson, 2009). Behaviour theories concentrated on different styles and behaviours that leaders use and how they contributed to followers’ performance, satisfaction and quality () simultaneously, skills theories showed that leadership could be learned (Katz, 1955). Despite the fact that behaviour and skills theories provided guidance to develop leadership skills and behaviours (Katz, 1955; Stogdill, 1947) they lacked in guiding what initiates effective leadership in different situations (Fiedler, 1964) therefore situational/contingency theories took the lead in 1964 through Fiedler’s research. These theories indicated that style that leaders use depends on the situation, the task, the organisation, the people and the other external variables (Fiedler, 1964). The trait, skills and behaviour theories discussed analysed the leadership from the perspective of leader; situational/contingency theory considered follower and context; but the Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) theory introduced by Graen and Cashman (1975) conceptualises leadership as an interaction between leaders and followers and how leaders get work done through personal relationships with different employee groups. Similarly, during the same period, Greenleaf (1977) introduced ‘servant leadership’, which analysed the leader-followers relationship but concluded that leaders do not necessarily need to be formally recognised as leader. Leader can be anyone from any level within an organisation as long as he/she understands followers’ needs and help them fullfil (Greenleaf, 1978). Also, Burns (1978) analysed the leader-followers interactions and proposed transformational leadership concept which can be described as the process which leaders consider followers and inspire them to contribute and become more committed through using their personal charisma, individual attention to followers and intellectual stimulation. Bass (1985) further developed the concept by placing the theory more into organisational context (Ensley et al., 2006) As one can observe from the leadership review, there have been many different definitions of leadership as there are authors writing about it (Stogdill, 1974; Fiedler 1971a). Therefore, this essay defines the leadership as the nature of influencing process and its outcomes that result from leader-followers interaction (Antonakis et al., 2004). Hence the leaders’ characteristics, skills, behaviour, beliefs and the way they interact with the followers are vital for the company and its future therefore in the next section, this essay will discuss the influence and the role of leader in a start-up enterprise from the corporate branding perspective.

Role of leader in corporate branding of ICUEnglish at start-up stage

The corporate branding is considered to be the unique characteristics of a firm (Esch et al., 2004) which is the combination of the core values that the firm has (Rode and Vallester, 2005), employee behaviour (Bergstrom et al., 2002), internal and external communications with the stakeholders (Argenti, 1998) and set of symbolic representations (Balmer, 1995). According to Timmons (1999) start-up enterprises are raw entities without any organisational structure, culture or system and if they do not have a well-structured and planned corporate branding, they cannot survive in the market. Hatton and Raymond (1994) and Miller and Droge (1986) argue that the impact of leaders on firms may not remain constant over time; rather, the impact should be stronger when the firm is small and/or young because of the greater managerial discretion the leaders possess at this stage. Generally, in start-up enterprises, founder is the business and carry out everything directly and supervise subordinates (Churchill and Lewis, 1983). As the firm go through different stages of growth, leader delegate certain job roles to the managers and as a result, he/she adopt different leadership style. For example in the early stages, leader’s ability and expertise to handle the job gives life to the business however delegation is not important as there are few employees. Nevertheless, as the company grow, leader move from being the business to managing the company and the employees. Entrepreneur’s values and advocacies can be implanted into the organisation’s culture and influence the entire team of employees over many years, even after the founder’s retirement or death (Baron and Shane, 2007). Therefore getting things right at the beginning and building the new venture on a strong foundation is key to the successful and strong future. One of the most important functions of a leader is to articulate and communicate a compelling vision that will motivate and energize people toward the future. Idealistic visions inspire and energise people because employees want to work toward something greater than just making money for shareholders. Good leaders are always looking forward, setting a course for the future and getting everyone moving in the same direction. Good leaders are responsible for knowing the organisational environment, considering what it might be like in 5 or 10 years, and setting a direction for the future that everyone can believe in. the complexity of environment and the uncertainty of the future can overwhelm a leader therefore they might focus on internal organisational issues rather than strategically activities. (shared-leadership might play role here). According to study presented by Daft (2008), on average, senior executives spend less than 3% of their energy on building a corporate perspective for the future. Mission is the organisation’s core broad purpose and reason for existence. Whereas visions grow and change, the mission persists in the face of changing technologies, economic conditions and other environmental shifts. It serves as a glue that holds the organisation together in times of change and guides strategic choices and decisions about the future. Founders should create and grow their businesses with the expectation in mind that someday they may find it necessary to step down from their leadership position for the goof their company (Ling et al., 2007) Edgar Schein, a corporate culture pioneer, asserts that while leaders create culture in the early stages of an organization, culture creates leaders as an organization matures. He suggests that culture is deep, broad, and stable. It can be an unconscious determinant of who gets hired, who gets promoted and rewarded, and indeed, how the vision, mission, and strategy are lived. Founder’s perspective, beliefs and experiences strongly shape the corporate identity (Wickham, 2001), his or her behavious is an example to employees, the sytle of leadership chracterises the atmosphere within the company and personal attitude is decisive for the rpocess of hiring new employees. Bring the influence of leaders and job division Founder structures the corporate branding (Wickham, 2001) but in order to inspire follower and encourage development of respect and trust among employees, he/she must be consistent with the decisions and actions (Pielstick, 1998). However, considering the other overloads on leader’s shoulder such as product development, networking and finance, in addition to uncertainty, it becomes harder to keep in balance and stick to the corporate identity. Therefore, as Rode and Vallaster (2005) concluded, despite to initial corporate branding, leaders tend to change certain aspects of corporate branding according to market response and consumer needs. Leaders can use the advantage of being small, agile and flexible to change company structure at early stages, which shows the use of different leadership style however again its leader’s vision that shape the company’s strategies and the future.


Link the mission to corporate image. Corporate identify expresses the internal part of corporate branding whereas the corporate image shows the reflection of corporate identity on external stakeholders. Corporate culture sits at the heart of corporate identitys and its major elements including mission statement, vision and core values (Birkigt and Stadler, 1980) of which provides the key guidelines for all managerial activities and decisions. Aligned with the corporate culture, corporate design reflects the visual side of the corporate identity including name, logo, and mascot (Sarasin, 1993). Influence of leader and decision making. Corporate behaviour shows how human resource issues are managed which includes selection, empowering and training (Lingenfelder and Spitzer, 1987). Bring theories such as ingroup, people want to work with people who have similar characteristics etc Corporate communication has internal and external aspects. Internal communication covers any mean of interaction within the firm, which may vary from leaders helping employees to achieve both organisational and personal goals to coordinating organisational activities (Rode and Vallaster, 2005). xxxxx . External communication represents the various ways the firm can communicate with its stakeholders including advertisement, sponsoring and any other marketing campaigns. According to Duncan (1989) culture is “set of key values, assumptions, understanding and norms that is shared by members of organisation and taught to new members as correct”. Carlyle, T. (1888). On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History, Fredrick A. Stokes & Brother, New York

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Leadership theories and the role of icuenglish. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved February 1, 2023 , from

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