Polydimensional Leadership

Better Applicability of Leadership Style Analysis

Comprehending leadership styles is one important spectacle of enhancing leadership in today’s business enterprises, through a set of individual conscious choices, resulting in endowment of positive attributes and abhorring some negative ones. The Polydimensional Leadership Styles (PLS) theory is intended to further the current plateau of leadership classifications, into a polydimensional plateau, dodging the limitations of the previous hypotheses and adding new paradigms, which is enriching to the potential of a leader.

The Need for a New Theory
When the first famous classification of leadership surfaced in 1905, embodied in the unidimensional ‘bureaucratic versus charismatic’ theory of Max Weber, it was manifested in a wide perception that a leader to be charismatic, he should pursue no doctrines. Positioning the abidance by rules as a criterion of bureaucratic non-charismatic leaders, it became a fashion among leaders to quote: “we make constitutions of our own”. I can imagine it was very inspiring to the dictatorships of World War I & II. The deceptive point in Weber’s thrust is that he classified charisma and procedural tendency as two opponents, while actually they are not. Some of the world-class leaders were favoring a highly systematic approach, Churchill being one very schematic leader, yet, an extensively charismatic one. Needless to mention drifting from rules and operating outside frameworks does not mean the man is a leader, otherwise any state prison would have been a leadership lounge.

The major work after Weber is known as Lewin’s leadership styles, a classification that have been the most popular for almost 70 years now. In 1939, the work of Lewin, Liippit, & White was presented as a tri-elemental unidimensional classification. Whereby they classified leaders into autocratic, democratic, and hands-off styles. While autocratic and democratic trends are suiting praiseworthily as opponent styles, being hands-on or hands-off we perceive as non homogenous in this range. Being autocratic does not interfere as it seems with being delegative. You can deputize a delegate, give him clear, inventoried and very scrawny set of instructions, then empower him fully to conduct. Shall this make you a democratic leader? Actually, you kept your hands away, and you did delegate, but with your tight instructions and low malleability you adapted the delegate to be your very own hands, and you kept these outsourced hands on.

In 1967, a flawless dimension was added by Fiedler, his ‘Contingency Theory of Leadership’ capitalized on new dimension stretching between task-oriented and people-oriented styles of leadership. Unlike Weber who was a political economist, and Lewin who was a psychologist, Fred Fiedler was a specialized industrial and organizational psychologist. We relate the high appropriateness of his contingency theory to his practical exposure compared to the academic background of both Weber and Lewin. Then finally, a good leap came in 2005 through ‘The Environment Leader’ model of Arthur Carmazzi, the founder of the ‘Directive Communication Methodology’. Although the environment leader model is very inspiring, it is highly dependant on personal qualities of the leader as well as the team. The applications and methodologies Carmazzi offered needs a special dedication to leadership qualities maybe more than an average organization can afford.

The above detailed hypotheses and models were in my perception the most applicable among all. However, a need is protracted for one more inclusive theory, offering a clear dimensions of leadership, contrasting the paradoxical nature of the two poles in each dimension, while enforcing no relation among unrelated criteria. Moreover, this theory will be more viable if it had an evolutionary horizon for its dimensions, to match the ongoing development of group psychology. Here, wherein I find the Polydimensional Leadership Styles (PLS) theory to perform satisfactorily.

Advancing Leadership Dimensions

The keystone thrust in the theory is formed about six major dimensions of leadership, employing and furthering all relevant previous theories outputs. These are;

  1. Democratic versus autocratic dimension
  2. Instructive versus participative dimension
  3. People-oriented versus task-oriented dimension.
  4. Superintending versus consultative dimension.
  5. Integrated versus oxymoronic dimension.
  6. Visionary versus operational dimension.
Over the coming posts, we will elaborate each of these dimensions, before we discuss how we can apply it to assess our own leadership style, and its compatibility with the organizational needs and status. What I see to be coral to my hypothesis, is that it had cordially originated from the very down-to-earth business operation of today's world. Yes, it is based and formulated based on the foundation of group psychology. Nonetheless, it was practice more than academia what triggered it in my own mind.
Copyrights© 2007. Eyad A. Harfoush

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