There are theories of leadership which define the qualities of leaders.
a. Trait Theories
The idea shifted from people being born with leadership qualities and theorists came up with, plethora of qualities that define the attributes or personality traits of successful and effective leaders.However, nobody could come up with the right combination of qualities that would ensure success as human beings are so different and react according to the environment they are exposed to. There might be some common qualities among successful leaders but not everyone has same qualities.
Jeff Skilling’s most discussed personality trait is his egoism, he was too proud to admit that he was wrong, he lead the company towards downfall. He realized years ago that pace of business is not sustainable and it will not be too long since the business would start facing financial difficulties, but his arrogance and ego prevented him from admitting his mistakes. He further continued pushing everyone into trouble, until the business could take no more pressure and had to file for bankruptcy because no money was left.
Steve Jobs also possessed the attributes of arrogance and egoism and he was famous for his blunt criticism, which he believed was necessary for the business they do. Innovation and excellence is all that is expected from them and the company could not afford to slouch down in performance even for a moment. But the earlier hardships in his career in which he was thrown out of his company actually taught him few lessons
b. Behaviorist Theories
These theories focus on what leaders do rather than their qualities and attributes. This theory focuses on the leadership styles. Kurt Lewin a Behaviorist theorist identified the following types of leaders based on behavioral theory:
c. Laissez Faire Leadership
Jeff Skilling used to give huge amount of autonomy to his workers in deciding about which deals to take. He even authorized them to final deals till $5 million without the approval from upper management. This shows the level of confidence he had in his employees.
Steve Jobs, although very strict about deadlines and outcome and wanting his employees to produce what he wanted only, never used to outline the course of actions for them. He just used to give them an idea about the final product but the remaining things have to be figured out by his employees on their own. There was autonomy given to them to make things as they wish them to be.
d. Situational Leadership
This theory analyses leadership according to the situation at hand and believes that one leader may be required to adapt to different leadership styles based on the situations at hand.
Jeff Skilling lacked the skills of situational leadership, his biggest mistake was assuming that the way gas business was turned into trading of this commodity and it turned out o be successful it would work for electricity, paper, water, lumber etc. he should have analysed these domains separately and design their business models differently based on the nature of commodity.
Steve Jobs was a man of reading trends and needs. He started working on iPhone when the technology platforms were not ready for this kind of innovation and this gave them competitive advantage. They were the first movers and have patents and copyrights to their names
e. Transactional Theory
This theory talks about followers and what is in it for them to obey their leader, there is a mutual contract of give and take where leader would reinforce the positive behavior of his workers through rewards and recognition. These could be either monetary or non monetary.
Jeff Skilling was great in developing transactional aspect of leadership; he hired young professionals and gave them autonomy to design trading deals of about $5million without any approval from management. This encourages his managers to think creatively and take responsibility for their own actions. The appraisal system was also based on innovation, ability to lead and learn. This enabled employees to perform beyond the expectations of management
f. Transformational Theory
This theory captures the essence of change management in which leadership transforms the organization through revolutionary and visionary role.This requires dedication and unwavering faith from followers and open mindedness, tolerance and patience from the leader. Kenneth Lay was a transformational person from the very start he believed in free economy and his obsession with deregulated systems led Enron into rapid business expansion once government lifted the regulation from market.Steve Jobs through his focus on core ideas only proved to be a transformational leader. He was known to simplify things and be able to highlight main areas to focus on.