Implicit leadership theories

Defining implicit theories

In contrast to scientific theories, implicit theories are a one-of-a-kind form of cognitive schemata that can be seen as a network of concepts that a group of people shares. A leadership theory built on the idea of influence is known as the implicit leadership theory. The idea is based on how the word “implicit” is defined, which is a view that is not simple or obvious and is not contradictory. Therefore, the implicit theory is a way of thinking people implicitly pick up via their education and leadership experiences. It illustrates the factors people take into account when thinking about effective leadership. The concept was created by a team of scientists under the direction of Robert Lord. Everyone has ideas about what makes a good leader before or after meeting a particular leader, claims the theory.


Characteristics of implicit leadership theories

The most common misconceptions people have about leaders generally are called implicit leadership theories. They are mental representations of leaders that, depending on what a person believes about them, might affect how they behave around or as leaders. Similar to stereotypes, these mental pictures are stored in a person’s memory and triggered whenever they come across someone who exhibits the same traits and actions. Instead of only being a leader, people prefer to refer to someone as a leader if they also have personal leadership attributes. According to this thesis, people have expectations and preconceived notions about leadership. Therefore, a leader’s reputation matters more than how they behave. A female mechanic is more likely to be mistaken for a secretary or maid than a male mechanic. As a result, people’s beliefs, anecdotal evidence, and implicit attitudes are based on what they have heard or seen. Although the claim may not be able to be supported by developers, the majority of people think it to be accurate.

The disadvantages of implicit leadership theory

Both leaders and their employees can benefit from and lose out on the implicit leadership concept. The following are some of this leadership theory’s most problematic elements:

People who work under a leader may react with tremendous resistance when prototype expectations are not met. If a leader’s age and gender describe their leadership style, that leader may receive unwarranted criticism. For example, female leaders require warmth more than male leaders do. The implicit prototypes may impact the performance of subordinates. People who think a leader is ineffective cannot work as well at their jobs. However, when a leader is capable, others under them produce better work. Even though the implicit theory might seem unfavorable, it offers a benefit.

Advantages of implicit leadership theories

When the prototype’s prerequisites are met, followers may show support for the leader. One metric for leadership is effective communication. Even if a leader lacks other essential talents, they may still receive aid if they are a good communicator. Even if a leader lacks crucial leadership qualities, a favorable initial impression could still be advantageous. Impressions are very important in implicit theory. Such leaders could take advantage of this. The implicit theory improves subordinates’ well-being. Building realistic prototypes requires people to keep their leadership knowledge and experiences up to date.

The implicit theory significantly affects how members and leaders collaborate, which must be kept in mind. Relationships are impacted by how two people interpret and react to situations.

Importance of implicit leadership theory

Understanding leadership requires knowledge of the implicit leadership paradigm. Leaders need to understand the psychological aspects of how their followers view them. By researching the traits of successful leaders, they can achieve this. It can help a leader match assignments and skills. Based on their understanding of their subordinates, leaders can also determine which leadership philosophies suit them best. It can also aid people in valuing, supporting, and supporting those in positions of power. Subsidiaries also profit from this strategy because it enables them to assess a leader’s efficiency. It also raises job happiness, especially when leaders and followers have a lot in common. Therefore, individuals who focus on developing leadership skills can benefit from using a person’s unstated ideas to enhance their leadership style. This is the starting point for creating a practical leadership philosophy.


In conclusion, most research on implicit leadership theories focuses on the characteristics of effective or ideal leaders and does not question the applicability of the dimensions used to characterize leaders in general. It is the case even though these characteristics are intended to describe leaders. There has not been much research done on whether or not people generally regard leaders in a positive or negative light. It is prudent to investigate the extent to which the popularly held assumptions about leaders are consistent with the knowledge that we now possess. Researchers who study implicit theories appear to believe that the term “leader” can only have a positive connotation; as a result, they do not consider or investigate how negative or ineffective leadership attributes may fit into a person’s overall leadership schema. Researchers who study implicit theories believe that “leader” can only have a positive connotation. We want to find out if, as most implicit leadership theorists seem to believe, the word “leader” only evokes thoughts of good things or if it also evokes thoughts of people who are not very competent at what they do. In other words, our goal is to determine whether or not the word “leader” only evokes thoughts of good things.

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