alternative theories, cont’d.
Other notions of leadership:
- leadership as influence (difficult to study influence empirically, however);
- leadership as an attribute -- a name which makes sense out of complex events and their outcomes which are otherwise inexplicable;
- leadership as an exchange based on power relations, requiring bargaining, trading, and compromising among leaders and followers.
In the 60s and 70s, a number of scholars attempted to define leadership in terms of influence, but it proved too political and slippery a concept: it is difficult to do an empirical study of influence. Some sociologists, viewing leadership systemically as both actions and results and their impacts, suggested that leadership is simply an attribute of a conjunction of events. “In other words, people attribute leadership to certain individuals who are called leaders because people want to believe that leaders cause things to happen rather than have to explain causality by understanding complex social forces or analyzing the dynamic interaction among people, events, and environment (Calder, 1977; S. Hunt, 1984; McElroy & Hunger, 1988; Pfeffer, 1977).” (Rost, page 30)
Hollander (1964; 1978a) and Jacobs (1970) espoused an exchange, or transactional, theory of leadership, which brought followers into focus by highlighting power relations, and the negotiations necessary among people of unequal power and different agendas. Followers are significantly involved in negotiating any exchange or transaction that results in a decision or a course of action, and this theory acknowledges the fact that they have minds of their own, and that their opinions and ideas also influence the leader: that leadership is, in fact, a social system characterized by feedback between leaders and followers. (Rost, page 30)