The Case For Studying Leadership Theory


Author David Burkus recommends reading his new book, The Portable Guide To Leading Organizations, when you decide to engage in a process of real leadership study. And, David believes that leaders should commit today to that study of leadership, and in particular the study of leadership theory.

His book covers the:
  • basic theories and models of leadership and change
  • history of management and motivational research
  • various schools of thought surrounding how to implement strategy in organizations. 

"The book serves as a great introduction to the concepts you'll explore deeper during the study process.  Likewise, it can be a great refresher after completing such study," explained David during a recent interview.

David says that understanding various leadership theories and knowing when to use each is critical.  Theory is important, because theories "are constructed and tested by examining not just the successes but also the failures," explains Burkus.

David says that "failures are incredibly valuable for the lessons they hold, especially when they properly balance successes."  He added, "If you're spending all your time hiding failure, you don't have any time to learn from it."

In his book, David writes about these leadership theories:
  • Trait
  • Skills
  • Style
  • Contingency
  • Situational
  • Path-goal
  • Leader-member exchange
  • Transformational
  • Servant
  • Strengths-based

David is also the editor of Leader Lab, an online community of resources dedicated to the advancement of leadership theory, where David and fellow consultants, professors and contributors present leadership theory and research in a practitioner-friendly format.

After reading David's book, you may want to pick up a copy of his favorite leadership book, The Leadership Challenge, by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.  That's because David says that "besides their both contributing a ton to research, they distill this research in and easy-to-grasp, entertaining format that makes it a great read."

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