Normative Leadership Style

Last Updated: 17 Aug 2022
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This article have analyzed Normative Leadership theory, a theory that is theoretically elegant and characteristically practical. Even in today’s increasingly changing global business scenarios, this robust theory enables Leaders to select one of the five leadership styles namely decide, consult individually, consult group, facilitate and delegate by using the model’s time-driven and development-driven decision tree.

Trait and Behavioural Theory Timeline: In the 1930s leadership theories were based on leaders’ traits. Two-dimensional behavioral theory (autocratic versus democratic) was published at the University of Iowa in 1939. In the 1940s the University of Michigan published Job centered versus employee-centered theories and in mid-1950s University of Ohio published considerations versus structure theories. In 1960s Fredrick came out with two-factor theory maintenance or extrinsic factor versus motivators or intrinsic factors. In 1967 McGregor suggested leadership behaviors based on different assumptions on employee motivations in describing his “Theory X” and “Theory Y”.

Birth of Contingency Leadership Theory: In the 1970s, it became evident that no single leadership style is best for all situations; leaders need to change their leadership style to suit the situation.

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Researchers then started working on situational and contingency factors which led to the development of contingency theories such as Fiedler theory (1967), Leadership continuum theory, Path goal theory, and Normative theory. While Fiedler's theory recommends changing the situation rather than changing leadership style, the rest of the contingency theories recommend using the right style in the right situation to deliver effective leadership. Normative Leadership Theory: In 1973 Vroom and Yetton developed a contingency model based on the leader’s choice of autocratic versus participative responses to decision-making situations. Extensive validation research of the model resulted in the development of the Vroom-Jago model in 1988 (again updated in 1995). The research aimed to develop a taxonomy for describing leadership situations, which could be used in a normative model linking situations to the leadership styles. A set of seven situational variables were used to predict which among the five leadership styles would be the most effective to deal with the situation. Vroom conducted extensive empirical studies to investigate how a leader’s behavior is affected by the situation faced by the leader keep. The studies were conducted with a focus on the leadership role and on how differences in the challenges that leaders face would affect a leader’s behavior. The five leadership styles are (1).

Decide: The leader makes the decision and announces it or sells it to the followers. The leader may gather information from others within the group and outside the group without specifying the problem, (2).

Consult Individually: The leader explains the follower individually about the problem, gathers information and suggestions, and then makes the decision, (3).

Consult Group: The leader holds a group meeting, explains followers the problems, gathers information and suggestions, and then makes the decision, (4).

Facilitate: The leader holds a group meeting and acts as a facilitator to define the problem and the limits within which a decision must be made. The leader seeks participation and concurrence on the decision without pushing his or her ideas and (5).

Delegate: The leader lets the group diagnose the problem and make the decision within stated limits. The role of the leader is to answer questions, provide encouragement and resources. Originally seven situational variables were identified to answer the questions with a high (H) or low (L) scores.

During the year 2000, Vroom revised the model with eleven variables. Each of these eleven is a moderator variable linking leadership style with components of decision effectiveness. Most of these eleven variables have also been used in empirical studies to investigate how leader behavior is affected by the situation faced by the leader. Both Time-Driven Model and the development-driven Model using seven variables are presented in Appendix 1 along-with instructions on how to use the model. Vroom’s theory has also been criticized by many raising questions such as (1) whether a small set of seven or eleven factors really determines how one should use the answers (2) will answer depend on the quality of the person who is answering (3) will answer vary from person to person and time to time and (4) will use of tacit knowledge in evaluating a situation; weaken the outcome of the model? These criticisms have resulted in further research and deliberation on the model. All parties (both followers and critics) agreed on the importance of matching of personal qualities and situational requirements towards delivering effective leadership in an organization. They also agreed that leadership effectiveness will depend on the use of realistic scenarios describing actual situations confronting a leader in an organization. Conclusion: The powerful model which Vroom and his colleagues at Yale University developed after interacting with more than 100,000 managers making decisions has proved to be a robust and useful model even in today’s dynamic business context.

The model has identified the following three distinct roles that situational variables play in the leadership process.

  1. Leadership effectiveness leading to Organizational effectiveness is affected by situational factors not under the leader’s control.
  2. Situations shape how leaders behave.
  3. Situations influence the consequences of leader behavior.

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Normative Leadership Style. (2016, Dec 10). Retrieved from

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