Leadership: Theory and Practice by Peter G. Northouse


NonfictionLeadership: Theory and Practice by Peter G. NorthouseReview by Molly

Not a novel or storybook, rather Leadership: Theory and Practice 4th edition is an instructional, educational work produced by one of the leading authors of the genre, Peter G. Northouse.

Table of Contents lists Preface highlighting Special Features, Audience and Acknowledgements.

Chapter headings are listed with page number, followed by an overview of the particular subject matter covered within the chapter.

Chapter 1 deals with Leadership, as such the word is defined, and described followed by a Plan of the Book, Summary and References.

Chapter 2 title is Trait Approach with descriptions of the traits found in successful leaders.

Other chapters present Skills Approach, Style Approach, Situational Approach, Contingency Theory, Path-Goal Theory, Leader-Member Exchange Theory, Transformational Leadership, Team Leadership, Psychodynamic Approach , Women and Leadership, Culture and Leadership, Leadership Ethics summarize the topics covered in the work.

Beginning on page 371 is the Name Index, Subject Index, About the Author and About the Contributors.

I found this work to be highly readable, understandable and filled with many good suggestions especially for the novice to the Leadership role as well as the ‘in the trenches’ for years leaders who want to expand their expertise.

Per the Preface this edition is a revised tome featuring 2 new chapters ‘Culture and Leadership’, and ‘Women and Leadership’.  I gave especial attention to reading those 2 chapters; as women become a greater component in the work force and our culture becomes more diverse both areas seemed to be particularly important for study.

Per the author the target audience for this edition is the undergraduate and grad student in management, leadership studies, business, educational leadership, public administration, nursing and allied health, social work, criminal justice, industrial and organizational psychology, communication, religion, agricultural education, political and military science, and training and development.  The author states that the information would be useful as a text in student activities, continuing education, in service training and other leadership development programs.  As well, the text is particularly well suited as a supplementary text for core organization behavior courses, or as an overview text with MBA curricula.

After giving the Table of Contents a once over to note the various types and styles of Leadership traits this book entails; I read chapter 4 more in depth to gain insight into the methodology and writing technique of the author.

Chapter 4, Style Approach, begins on page 69 and continue for 20 pages over which the reader is offered a description of the approach.  The Style approach focuses on what leaders do and how they act including actions of leaders toward subordinates in various contexts.

Researchers determined that leadership is composed of two general types; task behaviors and relationship behaviors.  Studies conducted at Ohio State, University of Michigan were compared.   Blake and Mouton’s Managerial (Leadership) Grid is detailed.

An explanation regarding How does the Style Approach Work including Strengths, and Criticisms as well as Application is presented with 4 Case Studies.  Case studies include specific examples of the Style Approach as well as a series of questions at the end of each case study presented to guide the reader into careful reading of the material.

End of chapter questionnaire and summary are followed by References Bibliography for reader who would like to read more on the topic.

Crystal L Hoyt is credited with information contained in chapter 12; Women and Leadership.  Until the 1970s due in part, to methodological leadership hindrances, a predominance of male researchers mainly uninterested in the topic and an academic assumption of gender equality of leaders, not much attention was given to the role of Women in leadership positions.

All in all I found Leadership: Theory and Practice 4th edition to be a worthwhile addition for those seeking to improve their leadership skills.  A must have for the office library shelf, the college library and for reading for information.

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