Theoretical Spotlight: Full Range Leadership Model

Literature Review

In the process of writing their dissertations, students often get confused about the theoretical framework portion. As such, in this blog series, we highlight the most popular theories we come across in our work with dissertation students. Just be aware that these are merely theory overviews and are in no way all encompassing. These overviews are designed to give you some familiarity with major theories.

Theory: Bass and Avolio’s (1994) Full Range Leadership Model

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Bass and Avolio’s Full Range Leadership Model contends that there are three types of leaders who express unique sets of traits that are tied specifically to their leadership styles. The first leadership style, transformational leadership, is the most beneficial style and most desirable form of leadership. Transformational leaders are often marked by their ability to instill intrinsic motivation within their followers, foster growth and development within their subordinates, create a positive working environment, push for a shared vision, and provide mentoring and guidance to followers.

Transactional leadership is the next referenced leadership style and is the most common leadership style found in many organizations. Transactional leaders focus on supervision, organization, and performance and instill compliance within the organization through the use of both rewards and punishments, also known as “carrots and sticks.” Transactional leaders usually lead in this fashion because they are interested in preserving the status quo.

The final leadership form is laissez-faire leadership; this is generally seen as the worst form of leadership one can have. Laissez-faire leaders are often marked by a distinct lack of leadership, allowing followers to establish rules on their own and have a larger say in deciding which policies are best for the organization. As such, laissez-faire leaders generally only get involved when things take a turn for the worse in organizations.

This theory is best suited for studies on:

  • Leadership
  • Organizational management
  • Job satisfaction
  • Job burnout
  • Organizational psychology
  • Mentorship