There are many models and theories of leadership. However, historically the most widely known and accepted models/approaches are:

  • Trait Approach
  • Skill approach
  • Style approach
  • Situational Approach
  • Contingency Theory

Although these approaches have each contributed to the understanding of leadership, none of the approaches have provided a completely satisfactory explanation of leadership and leadership effectiveness. Since the 1970s, several alternative approaches have been advanced.

Some authors make difference between the old paradigm models and the new paradigm models (visionary, charismatic, transformational) of leadership. These new models relate to concepts such as ‘charismatic leadership', ‘visionary leadership' and ‘transformational leadership'. Whereas earlier ‘old paradigm' models see leadership as a process, that involves influencing others, occurs within a group context, and involves goal attainment, more recent definitions of leadership have emphasized the role of leader as ‘defining organizational reality'.


Sirje Virkus, Tallinn University, 2009