Leadership Theory for Beginners

Find the tools to get you started in theories of leadership

Theories of leadership have evolved over time to include a wide range of approaches that focus on individual personality traits, interpersonal communication and interaction skills, organizational structure and other psychological and sociological elements. Various leadership theories have placed different emphases on personal versus situational factors, offering aspiring leaders a range of philosophies to choose from in developing their own management skills.

Leadership theories in business are the focus of seminars, workshops and consultant-run training programs to help companies function more effectively. Modern leadership theories have opened the field of leadership training to all levels of employee to provide individuals with more satisfaction from their work and more efficient strategies for task management. As such, leadership theory for beginners can benefit anyone, not just aspiring leaders.

When familiarizing yourself with leadership theory for beginners, consider all of the following options:
  1. Get to know the history of business leadership theory to learn different approaches;
  2. Take a personal assessment of your leadership skills and potential;
  3. Read the work of leadership theorists for recommended applications.

Learn leadership theory history for an overview of major theoretical ideas

When first learning about major business leadership theories, one strategy is to become familiar with the broader history of how leadership theory has developed. The basic concepts contained in each leadership theory and a chronological understanding of how theories influenced one another is a good platform for beginners to learn more about specific theories.

Take an assessment to discover which theory of leadership may be best for you

A number of assessments based on the ideas of leadership theorists are available to help individuals learn more about their personal traits and qualities that are relevant to leadership development. By taking an assessment, you can target one or two leadership theories that best accommodate your own leadership style or personality type and learn more.

Find a reading list of major works by leadership theorists

Leadership theory beginners also may want to read several well known leadership guides or handbooks to learn more about the prevailing ideas and concepts in leadership. Although a vast amount of writing exists on leadership, a recommended reading list can help narrow your options.