Traditional models of leadership focus on outcomes and trace those outcomes back to specific leadership traits, characteristics, or behaviors, with little emphasis placed on the values associated with intrinsic goal-directed behavior. The “nature versus nurture” debate has long existed within the study of leadership. Are leaders born, or can they be made? The environment certainly plays a role in fostering goal-directed behavior, as do family values, available resources, and education (including both didactic and spiritual education). Nevertheless, these constructs are often viewed as confounding variables rather than as leadership progenitors in traditional leadership models. This is a weakness within traditional leadership study.
Furthermore, traditional leader theories fail to fully integrate the various aspects of confounding variables into one multifaceted model that allows for a wider range and utility of leadership study. Specifically, constructs such as cultural distinctiveness, higher power influences, and environmental pressures are often disregarded as antecedent constructs for forecasting leader outcomes or explaining past leader behavior. At the same time, these constructs are excellent theoretical examples for forecasting leader outcomes under appropriate conditions.
For example, in the era of the War on Terror, some leaders and followers feel that they are driven to goal-directed behavior through a higher power mandate. Separate from the realm that is considered religion or spirituality in its common understanding, a “higher power” is often classified as a greater belief in a mantra, or distinctive icon, that guides and directs leader behavior and followership in a predictable manner. Rarely, however, does a discussion of how a higher power affects the values and goal-directed behavior of leaders take place. In fact, many leadership scholars completely ignore altogether the construct of a higher power influence when examining leadership. Some suggest it is politically incorrect to consider this factor, whereas others posit that it is too difficult to measure and evaluate it. Regardless, the study of a higher power influence on leadership is a burgeoning field of interest in the scholarly community. 35 – 37
As previously discussed, the preponderance of traditional leadership models focus on outcomes, using indicators of satisfaction and productivity as indices of success. In doing so, many established models fail to take into account various aspects of the environment and individual culture. Clearly, culture and the environment have profound effects on the study of leadership theory. As a result, an integrated theoretical model developed by Coppola 38 suggests a solution to this problem. The omnibus leadership model (OLM) borrows from previous literature in the field and provides a different aperture for evaluating leaders and leadership theory. This model offers three spatial dimensional constructs—higher order, individual culture, and environment—as signposts for other variables or constructs. Furthermore, from these spatial dimensions, three other constructs—beneficence, character traits, and resources—may be derived.