Traditional Leadership Style

Definition

The traditional leadership style was one of three leadership styles described by Max Weber in 1947, along with the charismatic leadership and bureaucratic leadership styles.  The traditional leadership style is based on the belief that power is bestowed on the leader, in keeping with the traditions of the past.

Explanation

Weber was the first to distinguish between transactional leaders, such as bureaucratic leaders, and transformational leaders, such as charismatic leaders.  Weber also believed that most leaders exhibited qualities of all styles.

The characteristics specific to the traditional style include:

  • Leaders are viewed as having control and power because those holding the position before them had control and power
  • Leaders are followed because of personal loyalty to the position, not to the individual
  • Followers are promoted based on favoritism and office politics

Related Terms

transformational leaders, situational leadership styles, transactional leaders