Principles & Theories of Administration & Leadership

by Jody Hanson

Principles of Administration

For any administration -- business, government, educational institutions -- to function properly, the principles of management which include hierarchy, control, unity of command, delegation of authority, specialization, objectives, centralization and decentralization, must be adhered to. Every administration has a hierarchy that is often represented as a pyramid. The heads of departments in organizations make decisions that concern their divisions. Final decision making, however, rests with the head of the organization. Unity of command establishes who is responsible for reporting to whom. Delegation of authority starts at the top and works its way down the chain of command; reporting works its way back up. Specialization refers to people doing what they were hired to do rather than being assigned tasks outside of their job descriptions. Every organization has to have clearly stated objectives that all employees try to meet. Centralization refers to authority at the top; decentralization is when responsibility is delegated to various levels.

Principles of Leadership

The basic principle of leadership is to lead by example. The principles of leadership, which are more fundamental than goals or policies, specify that in order to be a good leader a person must be honest, competent, forward-looking, inspiring, intelligent, fair-minded, broad-minded, courageous, straightforward and imaginative. The more of these traits a leader possesses, the more likely people will be to follow.

Theories of Administration

The initial theories of administration, developed by Henri Foyal, identified the basic principles of management and specified that all managers had to plan, organize, command, coordinate and control. Other traditional theories of administration include the "Neoclassical" approach to administration which adopted a mechanical approach that ignored human nature and the “Behavioral Management Approach” which based its management theories on the idea that administrators could pursue democratic and flexible solutions. One contemporary theory of administration is “Contingency Theory,” which specifies that when managers make a decision they have to take all key factors into account. “System Theory” views organization as having inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes that are inter-related. Like a machine, if you remove one part, such as the hard drive in a computer, the system won’t work. “Chaos Theory” stipulates that events are random and can rarely be controlled. This theory maintains that businesses evolve like biological systems: the more complex a company becomes, more structure and energy that is needs to maintain stability.

Theories of Leadership

There is a debate about whether leadership can be learned. The “Great Man” theory is that leaders are born, not made, and that they will come to the forefront when there is a need. “Behavioral Theory,” on the other hand, argues that leaders are made, not born whereas “Participative Leadership” maintains that more heads are better than one and that by being involved in decision-making increases the understanding of those who carry out the decisions. The factors central to “Situational Leadership” include motivation and the capabilities of followers. According to the “Contingency Theory,” a leader’s ability is dependent upon various considerations such as leadership style and the behavior of followers as well as other situational concerns. “Transactional Leadership” claims that reward and punishment is what motivates people and that there has to be a clear chain of command. The underlying theme of “Transformational Leadership” is that people will follow someone who inspires them and that a person with vision and enthusiasm can accomplish great things.

About the Author

Jody Hanson began writing professionally in 1992 to help finance her second around-the-world trip. In addition to her academic books, she has written for "International Living," the "Sydney Courier" and the "Australian Woman's Forum." Hanson holds a Ph.D. in adult education from Greenwich University.

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