3 Types of Leadership: What Kind of a Leader are You?


The German sociologist Max Weber identified three ideal types of leadership in which authority may rest: (1) charismatic, (2) traditional, and (3) rational-legal. In any society or institution, the power of the leader may be exercised on the basis of a mixture of these 3 types of leadership.

  1. Charismatic Leadership



Charismatic Leadership is founded on the personal traits and gifts of the leader. The more  authentic these personal traits are as perceived by the people, the higher is the legitimacy of the leader. People obey the leader, not primarily because of certain laws or traditions, but because of his/her personal talents. Because it is a personalized form of authority, charismatic leadership tends to be unstable. It does not normally survive after the death of the original leader, and it often abandons the leader while he or she is alive. Charismatic leaders in history include  Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, St. Francis of Asisi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, etc.

In  corporate settings, charismatic leaders like Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, to name a few, are creative, innovative, and visionary people. They have extraordinary talents that ordinary managers do not possess. They usually introduce innovation, creativity, or unique management style in their business environments.

         2. Traditional authority


Traditional leadership is one that is based on some sort of tradition that is handed down from the past. The leader is obeyed by the people as a legitimate leader because of a formal or informal norm handed down by great leaders or managers from the past. This kind of leadership is based on customs and traditions of the business firms.  The leader is not usually innovative but conservative. He or she is just continuing what is being practiced by the company based on tradition.

      The ordination of a priest by a bishop is an example of traditional authority. The new priest received his power and authority by way of tradition, and people obey him as a legitimate spiritual pastor of the Church. Succession in monarchy is also done through traditional authority. Tradition dictates that only persons with royal blood can ascend to the throne.

           3. Rational-Legal Leadership


         The last type of leadership proposed by Max Weber is the most common type of authority in modern and contemporary society. This leadership is based on a set of rules, and the belief in the legitimacy of the process of rule creation and enforcement. This form of domination is routinized through bureaucracy. The leader assumes the right to exercise power over the people because the law says so.

        The leader’s authority is held by legally established impersonal orders and extends to people only by virtue of the offices they hold. The power of government officials, for instance, is determined by the offices to which they are appointed or elected because of their individual qualifications. As long as individuals hold these offices, they have a certain amount of power. But once they leave office, their rational-legal authority is also lost.  Though personal traits also count in the selection process, a fixed law becomes the primary legitimizer of the leader’s capacity to exercise leadership. His authority expires when he retires or becomes incapacitated as stipulated by law.

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What kind of a leader are you? Which type of leadership do you aim to achieve?

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How to Be a Good and Effective Manager-Leader


A good manager must not only possess superior technical skills but also social managerial skills. After all, the primary role of the manager is to guide and supervise people under his/her care, not machines and robots. The word “good” here implies a value judgment and a set of standards of what constitutes a good or bad trait. And since business has diverse standards of what constitutes a “good” or “bad” manager, it is expected that what is good in one company may be not good in another company. What is common, however, is that all managers, regardless of the type and size of business, deal with people and employees with different personality, attitude, ability, talent, and experience in the company. Like a conductor in an orchestra, a good manager is one who knows how to blend and unify the various social circumstances of his/her employees in the workplace to achieve the company’s short and long-term goals. What makes a manager different from a rank-and-file employee is his/her discretionary power. S/he has the power when and how a company policy or goal can be actualized in the workplace through his/her intervention. Thus, a manager who has 4 of the traits below can be considered “good” and effective in today’s global age.

1. Familiar with the company’s organizational Culture.

First of all, a good manager must be familiar with the organizational culture of the company. This trait requires that the manager must be observant, analytical, broad-minded and with longer exposure in the company. S/he should have a firm grasp of “how things work” inside the organization: the goals, rules and sanctions of the company, internal politics and the degree of influence of power cliques inside the firm, as well as the overall social networking process inside and outside the company. The more the manager is familiar with the overall system of the company, the more s/he can be effective to fit his/her own office or area of responsibility in the overall scheme and direction of the business firm.With his/her superior knowledge of the culture or “way of life” of people inside his/her company, s/he can “make things done” despite bureaucratic limitations and obstacles.

In particular, s/he must know whether his/her company is generally personalistic, that is, social interaction and transaction are basically based on social ties rather than on qualification and merit. In sole proprietorship or smaller enterprises, the employees are usually affiliated with owners as relative, friend or co-ethic. Thus, the manager must be careful in dealing with employees who are close to the owners. But in highly complex and rational system of big companies, merit, rather social ties, usually predominats the overall cultural system of the business firm. In this case, the manager can be more efficient and professional in dealing with employees and situations in his/her office or area of responsibility.

2. Prudent in his/her exercise of managerial power and authority.

A manager must be prudent in the exercise of his/her power and authority in the company. Authority is a legitimate form of power delegated by the company to the manager in administering the firm as specified in the company’s manual. In theory, the manager must only act within the scope of his/her authority. But in some cases, s/he goes beyond this boundary such as dominating or bullying his/her employees–and thus act using his/her personal power and status rather than his/her authority. S/he must remember the saying: “If there is power, there is resistance”! If the manager wants to avoid nasty rumors and gossip from his/her subordinate, s/he must exercise moderation and prudence with regard to power and authority. This does not mean that s/he should not show anger especially if the situation requires it to achieve targets. What is important is that the employee must feel that the coercion was done by the manager in good faith and for the good of the company and not as a response to a grudge.

Active Resistance

If employees sense that their manager goes beyond his/her authority and thus abuse his/her power, active and passive social resistance would more likely occur. Active resistance is an overt or open form of opposition to the manager’s management style. Unreasonable impositions by the manager on the employees usually invite social resistance such as gossiping and rumor mongering. If the maltreatment or bullying of the manager becomes harsh, employees may manifest their active resistance by answering back to the manager’s rants or other forms of defiance. They can write petition letters or complaints to a higher authority or openly disobeying the manager’s command. Active resistance is easy for the manager to identify and control since it is usually done openly. What is difficult is passive or covert resistance. This often done at his/her back. This needs some sociological sense to discover that the employees resist

Passive Resistance

Passive resistance is an indirect or covert form of resistance. If employees do not want the personality and management style of the manager, they don’t usually show it openly to avoid sanctions. Instead, they would usually do it indirectly such as spreading rumors and gossip against the manager. They can also intentional miss their targets, underperform their tasks and invent all sorts of excuses for their sloppy job. In this case, the manager cannot achieve his/her assigned goals and targets in the firm, making him/her an ineffective leader in the eyes of the top management or owners of the company. These resistant acts may appear insignificant to many people but they can create a ripple effect which can result in an organized opposition against the manager. A good manager therefore is a person who is prudent in the exercise of his/her power and authority, avoiding active and passive resistance, for the good of the company. A good manager is must also be open to dialogue with disgruntled employees to understand and address the root cause of their problems..

3. Familiar with the latest technology for business.

With growing digitalisation of business, a good manager must be familiar with the latest Internet and computer skills and applications for business, particularly with the use of the social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other growing networking sites for business. With the advent of the digital, cyber and electronic spaces, physical presence is no longer necessary with the latest Information Communication Technologies (ICTs). Multitasking would be made easy because of the digital technology. A manager maybe away from his office, attending a conference and yet s/he can still attend to the day-to-day activities of his/her office with the use of his/her smart phones and wireless broadband or other high-tech devices and applications. The ICTs are also indispensable for a good manager in marketing formally or informally the company’s products and services.

4. Sensitive to his/her employees’ needs.

Finally, one of the most important traits a good manager must possess is sensitivity to his/her employees’ needs. The role of the manager is not only to achieve the company’s business goals and forecasts but also to protect and nurture the company’s most important asset—the employees. If employees feel happy, contented, and supported by the manager in what they do, their productivity and loyalty to the company would intensify and the company’s goals would then be easier to achieve. If this happens, the top management, will take notice of the manager’s capacity and and would be persuaded to promote him to higher post and responsibility.The employees’ feeling of being respected and valued by their company through their manager would surely result in increased productivity, efficiency and profit for the company. The famous Pope John Paul II in his papal encyclical or letter entitled Centisimus Annus (One Hundred Years), said that employees’ welfare in the company is more important than just earning more profit in a sesne that a business enterprise is a community of persons aimed at serving the public through products and services.

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6 Quotes from Top Business Leaders and their Sociological Meaning

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Top business leaders may not be social scientists and sociologists but their long journey to success and experience in building their empires have given them some sociological wisdom and theories in their minds on what works or fails in the field of business. They may not have articulated exactly the type of theories and insights they use in the quotes, but they are nevertheless very sociological and empirical from a sociologist’s point of view. Let us examine and analyze sociologically the following quotes from well-known global business leaders:

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This quote emphasizes that media business needs visionary leaders. In sociology, the type of leader with vision is usually the charismatic leader. The German sociologist Max Weber basically classifies leaders into 3 types: Charismatic, Traditional, and Rational-Legal. The charismatic leader is one with extraordinary talents and personal traits. His talent includes a vision of the future.

It is proven that today’s great business leaders are people who think and see ahead of their times. They have the talent to spot opportunities which ordinary entrepreneurs cannot see. Charismatic leaders are creative and innovative people who are willing to break traditions just to actualize their visions. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Ma, to name a few, are examples of charismatic business leaders. In contrast, the traditional leader is usually a conservative person who only follows the tradition and culture of what is handed down from the past to the firm, while the rational-legal leader is one leads only to the laws and policies of the company.

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This quote emphasizes that the customer is the ultimate boss in business. Without customers, the business cannot survive and grow. The resources and capital of the business firm must be used wisely to serve the customers. Managers have no business in the company if they cannot provide the best products and services to the customers.

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This quote stresses that one must take risks in business but only if it is a good cause, if it can lead to a good life, presumably for the customers and the public. A business firm and its leaders cannot takes risks if what they do are contrary to law, custom, and needs of the public. It cannot engage in shady deals and corruption just to increase its profit. Some companies, for instance, pollute rivers by dumping their wastes at the expense of the inhabitants and environment.

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Bill Gates may not be a sociologist, but he knows that life is not equal. It is part of urban society’s social stratification where people are classified according to wealth or social class and according to their skills and level of education or social status. In a capitalist society, the social structure always favors and rich and entrepreneurs, while the poor and workers are oftentimes exploited and forgotten.

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This is a very good observation by Jack Ma. Not many people can see that complaints are actually gaps in the system and opportunities for the business firm to grow and even create new products and services to address them.

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Jack Ma, because of his vision and long experience in business, is correct. The right people for the job or task in the company are not necessarily the best ones. The best people are actually difficult to train in the company. They usually have a strong sense of entitlement. They tend to be good at commanding rather than obeying people who know the needs and problems of the company. That is why, aside from the necessary qualification, the employees must possess the right attitudes, values, and personalities which are consonant with the company’s mission-vision. A business firm is a system with interdependent parts and functions. It requires a teamwork. If the firm hires the best people rather than the right employees, it can result in disharmony and systemic dyfunction which are not good for business.

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All Great Leaders Begin with a Dream!

“Leaders are rarely accidental. Most of them aspire something to improve society according to their personal values and cultural orientation. “


All great leaders begin with a dream. They aspire to become authorities in some particular fields. They also think and believe that they can achieve their dreams. They are actually visionaries. They begin with an idea that they would someday become leaders according to the likings their hearts and end up industry leaders. Social scientists believe that we are what we think. Action is guided by thinking. We can only achieve what strongly think and dream. If we do not aspire to become  leaders, then we can never be one. Aspiring leaders think outside the box to explore new horizons to serve humanity.


Leaders are rarely accidental. Most of them aspire something to improve society according to their personal values and cultural orientation. It’s true that leaders are made, not born. No one is born a leader, unless he or she inherited it because of the social status of their parents. Thus, if one is born a member of a political clan or family, he or she can assume the political leadership of their parents as a form of what sociologists call as ascribed status or a form of social status acquired from birth. But most business leaders who are innovative and who opened new fields in today’s technological world are made through their own efforts and through the conducive social and business environments that provided them a “break” or opportunity to lead a group or industry. Steve Jobs, for example, could not become a leader in technology innovation if the digital technology did not flourish during his time. The latest technologies provided him with new tools and opportunities to actualize his dreams! Bill Gates would not also become the founder of the Microsoft and a leader of the software technology if technology did not shift from analog to digital and without the invention of the Internet and personal computers. Achieving leadership is not only a matter of personal effort. The social milieu must also be “friendly” or conducive to the dreamer or aspiring leader! And if the dreamer is really serious  in achieving something to improve society in some particular fields, then the content of his or her dream must be based on real life situations; otherwise, the dream is only a wishful or idle thinking without a serious effort on the part of the dreamer to actualize it. This is not the kind of dream that great leaders think! What they think is achieving breakthroughs of humankind’s current perennial problems that make life difficult for people. Great leaders in business, for instance, think and invent products and services that improve the current market or open up a new market altogether or niche.


Contemporary Leadership as Achieved Social Status

Most leadership that happen in contemporary society is achieved status, i.e, acquired by the person through personal achievement and effort. That is why in urban society, most leaders are guided by personal aspirations that one day they would become industry leaders. They just don’t sit around and wait for the opportunities to come. Instead they explore real human needs, study how they can address them, and work tirelessly to achieve them. They never give up when they encounter obstacles and frustrations along the way. Most great leaders in today’s business world did not achieve their leadership status by wishful thinking or leading a comfortable life. They live a very difficult life before they achieve their dream and become leaders of their chosen fields. Jack Ma, for instance, did not become the leader of the Alibaba Group in China and become one of the richest men of his country without undergoing humiliation of being rejected by Harvard Business School twelve times and experiencing some seemingly insurmountable obstacles in achieving his dream. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg had to drop from Harvard University to focus on their dreams. The road to success and leadership is painful but inwardly rewarding for aspirants in achieved leadership status.  Most of these business leaders did not acquire their leadership by ascription or comfort, but by extreme personal sacrifice and determination, seeing achievement of their dreams and glory beyond the horizon not seen by ordinary mortals.

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