A Discussion of Leadership Theories as they Relate to Information Systems Leadership

Chih-Yuan Chou, Purdue University
Linda L. Naimi, Purdue University
What is leadership? In the past years, people have given this term a lot of different explanations. Someone said leadership is influence, while someone claimed leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. Researchers believe that the effectiveness of group performance is determined in large part by the leadership structure of the group, and thus leadership attracts people’s eyes in the area of social science (Borgatta et al., 1954). Trevisani (2015) stated that leadership is a holistic spectrum that can arise from higher levels of physical power, superior mental energies, higher abilities in managing the overall picture, higher abilities in specialized tasks, higher ability in managing the execution of a task, and higher level of values, wisdom, and spirituality, where any leader derives its leadership from a unique mix of one or more of the former factors. We cannot argue that Trevisani’s viewpoint on leadership is wrong; however, his statement on leadership has not described what leadership is in a complete way. In fact, there are a  variety of existing views on describing leadership. Some researchers conceptualize leadership as a trait or as a behavior, whereas others view leadership from an information-processing perspective or relational standpoint (Northouse, 2012). In the following sections, we will show you the highlight of leadership theories, a brief review for information systems (IS) leadership papers in recent years, and then discuss the similarities and differences between the different approaches and theories.

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