Ways to Apply Top Leadership Theories in Your HR Assignment

Leadership holds a very significant role in conducting corporate research. These studies are used at a global level by various business schools for the leaders of tomorrow, who are required to be better managers and effective leaders. Recently, there have been many technological developments in this field that show the continuously growing importance of this trend. HR i.e. human resource is an essential part of an organization, which can’t be ignored at any cost. Leadership theories applied by HR help the organization to understand the crux of people management. These theories help the students as well by providing them with a practical viewpoint on various business operations.

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Leadership theories applicable to every HR Assignment:

Leadership theories are a set of rules and guidelines that provide ways to manage and organize the workforce of a company. Students who aim to make a career in the corporate world should learn these theories and apply them in realistic scenarios. An HR manager is supposed to find solutions to various problems by taking hypothetical scenarios. Leadership theories assess students to solve HR case studies in a wholesome and comprehensive way. There can be the inclusion of citations of various renowned authors in your leadership theories.

One needs to study a total of nine leadership theories in the HR management curriculum, which are elaborated below:

Great Man Theory: The Great Man theory came into existence in the 19th century by renowned philosophers. According to this theory, a great leader is born, and not made. These leaders are gifted with leadership skills by birth and possess natural talents that make them different from the crowd. But, the drawback of this theory is the non-defining nature of personal qualities. There is no tool that can measure someone’s capabilities and state the characteristics that have been acquired by birth or with time. There is no scientific evidence to the facts stated in the theory. If interpreted in a wrong manner, this can create a situation of havoc and arrogance amongst leaders.

Trait Theory: The Trait theory is very similar to Great Man theory with minute differences. This theory can be termed as an extension of the former one. In this one, researchers refer to Carlye’s ideas and work upon them. There are some standard characteristics defined in this theory that define the qualities of a great leader. The majority of great leaders possess similar traits such as intelligence, patience, flexibility, confidence, etc. The list of talents stated under this theory includes Communication skills, observation skills, public speaking, intelligence, decent personality, alertness, confidence, foresightedness, empathy, flexibility, open-mindedness, and expertise in related subject areas.

Behavioral Theory: This theory emerged by Ohio State University around the 1940s. This theory acted as a response to the previous two. As per Behavioral theory, the inborn traits of someone can’t be useful and effective if a person is not able to project them successfully. Having a good leadership skill is attainable by everyone, it is not necessary to get that inherently. The team of researchers framed a questionnaire and conducted a survey, named Leadership Behavior Description. Its purpose was to study the behaviors of successful leaders of various sectors and formulate a behavior theory.

Contingency Theory: Contingency theory is focused on the application of theories in an altered manner depending on the demand of the situation. One needs to be open-minded and flexible enough to apply the altered form of the theory in a particular context. Managers are given the liberty to use their knowledge in the practical scenario and tweak that as per conditional requirements. In your HR assignment, you can refer to Fielder’s method to measure the least-preferred coworker scale. The three principles involved in contingency theory include understanding the relationship of leader-member, abide by task structure, and sustain positional power.

Transactional Theory: The Transactional theory was introduced in 1947 by Max Weber. This is the most relevant theory in the contemporary world. Its carrot-stick model is followed by various organizations, wherein incentives are provided to team members to motivate and encourage them for working more effectively. There are four major elements involved in this theory. The first one being SMART goals, which focus on incentivizing employees with measurable, realistic, specific, and attainable processes. The second one states to take actionable measures and its monitoring. Thirdly, set benchmarks for performance and upkeep passive management. The last one emphasizes the Laissez-faire method. The major drawback involved herein would be, focus on incentivizing which is not a sustainable and long-term solution for performance enhancement.

Transformational Theory: The primary focus area under this theory is to build communication channels for better exchange of ideas between managers and the workforce. The transformational theory is just the opposite in nature as compared to transactional theory. Even though both these theories aim at motivating employees, the method involved is different. Transformation theory focuses on providing examples rather than incentivizing. The key points under this theory that can be included in your HR assignments are effective feedback mechanisms, proactive solutions, effective communication channels. This theory involves the direct contribution of management personals in decision making, which makes it a more personalized approach and builds strong ethical work culture.

Situational Theory: The role of this theory is evident from its name, it makes a leader capable of dealing with new emerging scenarios and adapt as per the demand. This is very similar to contingency theory, but there are few differential features among both of these. Unlike contingency theory, there are no predefined skill sets under situational theory. A set of instructions are given to the team about the things to be done, sometimes ideas are also being sold to them to convince them about the effectiveness of the plans. To encourage the employees for active involvement, they are told to participate actively in the task. Employee management is taken into consideration along with people skills so that the correct assigning of the tasks can be exercised.

Leader-Member Exchange Theory: The major concentration of this theory is to build up a healthy relationship between managers and team members. This allows the team to come and express their thoughts freely so that better productivity can be attained. Leader-member exchange theory works as the icebreaker between people. This brings a sense of inclusiveness to the organizational processes.

Power and Influence Theory: The major players involved here are the hierarchical structure of the HR department. Positions of employees and the manager play a determining role in the process of decision-making. This theory is useful in justifying managerial changes in the organization. The tactics involved under theory are rewards and incentives, exertion of authority, and obliging employees.

What is the need for leadership theories?

Leadership theories provide a perspective for a broad understanding of the corporate world. Every business organization, irrespective of its nature and size, requires an organized structure. Managers often need a proper people management system to exercise a check on their workforce.

To be a good leader, one needs to excel on various fronts, It is not just about being a good taskmaster, instead, one needs to have foresightedness, intelligence, and possess empathy towards the team. The leadership theories discussed above provide the ways in which the desired qualities can be inculcated in leaders to make them a great ladder. When they get well acquainted with these theories, they can understand the corporate scenario in a better way by keeping into account contemporary issues. Hence, come up with practical solutions to those problems.

How to structure the HR assignment?

An HR assignment consists of three components:

  1. Case Study

  2. Hypothesis

  3. Analysis

The case study should contain an introduction and main body content. You must try to touch upon the context of HR in the starting itself. In the body section, you should present the facts focused on people management and the hypothesis.

When it comes to analysis, you must try to validate or invalidate the hypothesis. In this section, you can refer to some leadership theories as well to strengthen your argument. At last make sure that you have cited your sources; also add footnotes and annotation for more reliability. In many cases, it is recommended to use APA and Harvard styles.

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