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Literature Review on Leadership in Workplaces


In contemporary workplace, leadership depicts the capacity of individuals to administer and supervise organizations and its workforce. It can also be defined as the power to act positively and affect others to accomplish their tasks to the best of their capability. Leadership is more than a particular position or a title of a job in an organization. According to Nawaz (2016), in the world of business, efficient leadership is vital for channeling the power of those he or she serves. It is the most critical asset in any business and is normally counted on as a pillar to uphold and sponsor the rest of the workforce. Therefore, their functions are the most scrutinized and their attainment is most directly correlated to the success of organizations.

Additionally, leadership can be identified as a key that unlocks change and performance. It is a social process capable of affecting individuals, and it is more than what those people in leadership do. It springs from purposeful connections and relationships developed not from one person but from a group that act together to make a collective sense of the situation that confronts them. From these perspective on leadership in workplaces, the purpose of this literature review is to investigate the various aspects, perspectives and theories put forth on leadership within workplaces. The review aims to draw an in depth understanding of the role and influence of leaders in workplaces based on the existing theories, concept, and previous studies on the topic. Based on these findings, the review will draw conclusion based on the findings highlighting the areas that need further studies.


Literature Review and analysis

Concept of Leadership

Greek Philosophers such as Aristotle and Socrates, the ancient Egyptians, the Arabian civilization by Ibn Khaldun of 1377 provide the traces of the study of leadership. However, it was until the 20th Century particularly in the 1930s that the actual researches of leadership came out focusing on the science of social approaches. The centers that were used back in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s on the studies in leadership included Iowa, Michigan and Ohio States in the United States of America consecutively. Concentration on the leader research studies were done by Massarik and Tannenbaum back in 1957 according to researches by Mjaku (n.d.).

Numerous studies on leadership have been conducted, but the concepts most talked about and studied, are topic in the social anomaly of all ages, and its complexity, characterized by several temperamental liked with the approaches of leadership, variables that circumscribe the whole process of social. For years now, studies on leadership have focused on traits and personalities of leaders, contingencies and situational aspects that influenced leadership and decency styles, charismatic, transactional and transformational leadership (Northouse, 2021; Rosenbach, 2018). By the end of the 20th century, efforts were made to assess different models of leadership to orchestrate into a wider scope known as ‘full range aspect of leadership as studied by Avolio (2009). On the same review supported by Almohaimeed, Saleh (2014), leadership is a term widely tried to be comprehended or defined, currently, leadership is researched but least discerned topic, since people presuppose that it is a life’s rare occurrence that is difficult and mysterious.

Leadership style and values

In a study by Serrat (2017) on Leading in workplaces, argue that leadership in the early models normally in the western world are filched from the military organizations, and they were assessed depending on the circumstances in which leaders came about, and then explored for psychological features. The well-defined, in most cases dauntless bequests they pointed out basically embodied conception, theoretical acclimatization, appeal, stamina, physical endurance , resolution and courage, action-align acumen, intelligence, task competence, need for achievement, self-confidence, eagerness to take accountability, capacity to motivate people, comprehend of followers as well as their needs, skills in dealing with individuals in the same workplace, decisiveness, courage and resolution, adaptability, and trustworthiness (Nielsen et al., 2016; Slemp et al., 2018).

The paradigm values admired from leaders are accepted appropriately in dire situations. Although, ancient archetypes, attributes concepts as well as notions of contingency, transformations, situational, and even transactional leadership, all of which strike of charge and regiment more or less apparently cannot serve the varied collection of workplaces that call for leadership in the organizations of the 21st Century as affirmed by Ba (2015). Arguably, globally, contemporary workplace is increasingly becoming complex with significant challenging situations.

Leadership in Workplace Contex

Hao and Yazdanifard (2015) on ways of improvement and innovation can be leveraged by effective leadership to facilitate change in workplace, argue that leadership in a workplace is the intelligence and the responsibility in form of a power with the potential to influence or adjust the beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors of other people. Specifically, an individual with strong leadership capabilities will set a good example or become a role model to their subordinated, since the leader who is capable of effecting change will attain good results or attainment through admiration and trust of their staff, and unintentionally adjust their beliefs, attitudes, character and values, for impersonation in the candid manner of adulation. The statement got support from researches by Norhthouse (2009), where the research points out that leaders that possesses redoubtable leadership have the cogency to compel others to strive to attain the objectives and goals of the organization.

In another study conducted by Koouzes and Posner (2013), leadership in workplaces is rather a process where those in leadership positions apply their knowledge and skills to lead and bring a team of employees in the desired direction that is vital to their organization’s objectives and goals. But for this to take place, such a leader must depict the ability to show consistency, passionate about the work they do, show consistency in what they believe in, can be trusted and build trust among the employees, and be a visionary. But then, as it being a process, time taken to develop such leadership capacity that changes the management of the workforce will be influenced by varying individual capability to adapt, embrace adjustment, and also engage in the change process for an effective leadership process in a workplace as supported by Wuestman and Casey (2015). Note that just like some employee might be happy in the change process, some might not, thence, such a leader must keep on communicating and engaging or rather working together with the workforce so as to sustain the long-term process changes.

Abbas and Asghar (2010) argue that leadership in workplaces is not a magic that one individual and others do not possess. It is also not about the orders provided by the leaders in the workplace, or the observations made on how much these orders are assented. Instead, leadership in workplaces is the capacity of the management to obtain and protect the organization or business benefits by meeting the needs of the workforce and objectives of the organization brought together to work in a conducive and much better surrounding so as to attain a common objective(s) as quoted from a study by Sansom (1998). Leadership in workplaces possesses a principal function in the cultivation and evolution of an organization. It can also aid the stakeholders of the organization as well as the workforce to face the evidence and to work for organizational objectives in an admirable manner.

In a report by Ejimabo (2015) on ways of understanding leadership decision making in organization, he argues that being a leader in a work place or an organization, can be a complicated and confronting situation role in taking care of variety of forms that are influenced by the requirements of the organization as well as the individuals that are being led. Any leader in a given workplace can be tasked in variety roles to complete these tasks in a particular day or time depending on what arises and what issues are required to be taken care of. It is to depict that leadership and decision-making is at the heart of every workplace, and they are key drivers to any organizational result, and according to Lunenburg (2010), decision making is one of the greatest activities in which organizations engage on a daily basis, and the success of an organization is critically connected to critical decision made by the leader(s). Normally there exist a process that a leader follows to make sound decision, and they include; identification of a problem, creating possible choices, assessing possible choices, choosing a choice, effecting the decision, and assessing decision cogency.

Investigating the role of leadership in employees’ motivation, Naile and Selesho (2014) held that the success of every organization will depend on the workforce’ drive to bloom via their endeavors, obligations, commitment, profession and steadfastness. In this manner, motivation is a vital topic since leadership qualification entails the capacity to motivate the employees in a workplace as quoted from Lussier (2013) as one of the vital aspects in the duties of a leader in a job. Leadership starts with the first endeavor created to recruit a new staff, then proceed via the whole induction process, then proceed each day till the time the employee exists from the organization. This process is bolstered by a leader, motivating the contemporary employees as well as it points out, once again, the essence of leadership in workplace.


In all the researched conducted and analyzed are more of patriarchy, where leadership and all its aspects is predominantly a male right and gender insensitive from times of ancient Egypt, to 21st century. Most of studies conducted regarding leadership focus on traits common in the male gender even though in the last fifty years, women have made significant strides in the achievement of education and heightened participation in the workforce. In addition, there have been women leaders via out history and they can be identified in each culture as well as era. However, in contemporary workplace, male leaders greatly outdo leaders of the female gender according to studies by Cook and Glass (2014). Those women that have broken the glass ceiling and progressed to the top leadership in workplaces have shown that applying the command-and-control form of leading others, a form in several occasion linked with men in huge traditional institutions is a depiction that leadership perspective has failed and need to be addressed. Note that both women and men have different leadership styles, with women likely to view leadership as more of a transformational while applying interpersonal skills as well as hard work to transform or motivate their staff instead of applying position power like men do as they mix it with transactional form of leadership. Additionally, modern workplaces evolve rapidly, and for an organization to performance and be a success, leaders must match the internal and external variables in optimizing the qualities, attributes, and talents of each employee. Therefore, there is need for constant development of leadership in attempt to align with contemporary workplaces.

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Abbas, W. and Asghar, I., 2010. The role of leadership in organizational change: relating the successful organizational change with visionary and innovative leadership.

Al-Malki, M. and Juan, W., 2018. Leadership styles and job performance: A literature review. Journal of International Business Research and Marketing, 3(3).

Ba, B.G.M., 2015. Understanding leadership and empowerment in the workplace. European Scientific Journal, 11(35).

Cook, A. and Glass, C. (2014). Women and Top Leadership Positions: Towards an Institutional Analysis. Gender, Work & Organization, 21, pp.91–103.

Ejimabo, N.O., 2015. An approach to understanding leadership decision making in organization. European Scientific Journal, 11(11).

Hao, M.J. and Yazdanifard, R., 2015. How effective leadership can facilitate change in organizations through improvement and innovation. Global journal of management and business research.

Kouzes, J.M. and Posner, B.Z., 2013. Great leadership creates great workplaces. John Wiley & Sons.

Mjaku, G., Strategic Management and Strategic Leadership.

Naile, I. and Selesho, J.M., 2014. The role of leadership in employee motivation. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(3), p.175.

Nawaz, Z.A.K.D.A. and Khan_ PhD, I., 2016. Leadership theories and styles: A literature review. Leadership, 16(1), pp.1-7.

Nielsen, M. B., Skogstad, A., Matthiesen, S. B., & Einarsen, S. (2016). The importance of a multidimensional and temporal design in research on leadership and workplace safety. The Leadership Quarterly, 27(1), 142-155.

Northouse, P.G., 2021. Leadership: Theory and practice. SAGE Publications.

Rosenbach, W.E., 2018. Contemporary issues in leadership. Routledge.

Serrat, O., 2017. Leading in the Workplace. In Knowledge Solutions (pp. 633-638). Springer, Singapore.

Slemp, G. R., Kern, M. L., Patrick, K. J., & Ryan, R. M. (2018). Leader autonomy support in the workplace: A meta-analytic review. Motivation and emotion, 42(5), 706-724.


Log 1- about leadership (must put this in the appendix)

What did we do?

In this session, we learnt about leadership, differences between leadership and management, leadership styles and factors which can influence leaders.

Why did we do it?

To Understand in-depth about leadership To Understand the difference between leadership and management. Develop an understanding of approaches to leadership

What was my reaction?

As mentioned even before in on my previous learning logs, leadership is one of my favourite fields of work that I want to do in my professional life. I want to see myself in a leadership position, which motivates me. Therefore, this lesson was one of my very interesting lessons, and it gave me many in-depth ideas about leadership such as leadership theories, leadership styles etc. I enjoyed this lesson a lot.

What have I learned?

leadership is a process whereby a person influences several people to accomplish their set objective or goal (Northouse, 2010)

Leadership is concerned with direction setting, motivation, inspire etc.

Management is concerned with maintaining organisational stability, payroll, plan etc.

Therefore, leadership and management are not the same, they are two different things, but they must go hand in hand.

I also learnt a few factors which influence leadership, and they are as follow:

Transformation Technology Relationship Entrepreneurship Structure Direction.

Basic leadership styles


Autocratic leaders hold onto as much power and decision-making as possible


Leaders rely on strict command and regulations.


Leadership function is shared in the group.


Leaders have little input of direction and give employees the freedom to do whatever they think is best.

We also learnt about transactional and transformational leadership

Transactional leadership which is also known as managerial leadership and they focus on the group’s supervisory, organisational and performance role.

Transformational leadership focuses on the needs of others, encourages, motivates, and inspires employees to innovate and make changes that will contribute to the future growth and success of the business.

What are my next steps?

We have been given a case study as homework which we will need to read and answer a few questions. Whenever I get a job in a leadership position, I will apply everything I learnt in this session in my real life.

Reference list:

Northouse, P.G. (2010) Leadership, Theory and Practice, Fifth Edition, Sage Publications, Inc

Log 2 – about decision making in organization.

What did we do?

In this lesson, we learnt about decision making in organisations.

Why did we do it?

Decision making is a vital part of any business, and if done properly, it will lead to the company's success. It is also one of the most important components of a manageractivity. A single decision can make or break a business or organisation, let’s say the health of a business depends on it (Francis, 2019). Therefore, knowing about how to make decisions in an organisation is very important as the better we are at making decisions, the more success we can experience.

What was my reaction?

The lesson was very interesting, and I enjoyed it a lot as I want to work in a leadership position in some organisations; thus, learning how to make decision in organisations will help me a lot in my professional life.

What have I learned?

In this lesson, I learnt many things, and a few of them are as follow:

We learnt the four ways managers make decisions which are: P= Planning. i.e., what is the organisation long-term objective? O= Organising. i.e., How should jobs be designed? L= Leading. i.e., How do I motivate employee who are unmotivated? C= Control. i.e., What activities need to be controlled in the organisation? We learnt about intuitive decision making. We learnt about structured problems and programmed decisions. We also learnt about unstructured problems and non-programmed decisions. We learnt decision making styles and their biases. Some of the biases and errors are as follow: Overconfidence Availability Immediate gratification Confirmation Self-serving etc.

What are my next steps?

Today was an important lesson for me which will help me a lot in my professional life; however, in order to be fully successful with the skills and knowledge gained in this lesson, I need to practice these in my everyday life a bit more as I am not always the best person in making decisions. Hence, I need to learn and practice how to make effective decisions which can be achieved by practising them in my everyday life.


Francis, K., (2019). Importance of Business Decision Making. Available at: (Accessed: 25 March 2021).

Log 3 – about motivation

What did we do?

We learnt about motivation, what is motivation and why it is crucial. Theories of motivation and comparing them And discussed current issues with motivation

Why did we do it?

We did this lesson to understand how important motivation is; without motivation achieving something can be very challenging. Motivation also builds determination to achieve something. Motivation allows us to change our behaviours, way of learning, boost engagement, make plans, set goals etc. As a student, we must be motivated towards our goal to accomplish our dream. Motivation is an important life skill that we all need.

What was my reaction?

I really liked the session as it was very interesting and useful, I am always motivated for everything as I have a long-term goal to become a pilot which I still dream about, but sometimes I experience a lack of motivation which can be due to some family issues, environment, pressure, depression etc.

What have I learned?

We must need to be motivated to achieve something if we are not motivated the chance to success is very rare. In today's lesson, I learnt about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic means doing something you personally enjoy, and extrinsic means you are doing something just because you want to avoid punishment or earn a reward. We also learnt four early theories of motivation which were:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs McGregor's Theories X and Y Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory McClelland's Three Needs Theory

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory:

"Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid" (McLeod, 2020). The five-tier are as follow:

Physiological needs Safety needs Social needs Esteem needs Self-actualisation

What are my next steps?

For homework, we have to watch a video about Google employees and need to outline three reasons why Google employees need space and facilities to relax at work. Also, I will always try to be motivated as it will help me progress in my future life even though sometimes is difficult because of some situations that I guess are not just for me but for everyone. Also, Christmas holiday coming soon so I will try to have some fun during the holiday and catch up with some learning logs as I am running a little bit behind with few logs because in the past weeks due to assignments I was unable to post them.

Reference List:

McLeod, S., 2020. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 January 2021].

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