Harold Leavitt

Harold J. Leavitt (1922 – 2007) was an American psychologist of management. He dealt with the analysis of patterns of interaction and communication in groups, and also interferences in communication. He examined the personality characteristics of leaders. He distinguished three types of managers:

  1. The visionary and charismatic leader is characterized by being original, witty, and uncompromising. He is often eccentric and seeks to break with status quo, and embarking on a new path. Historical examples of such leaders were Gandhi, Hitler, Gladstone and the Ayatollah Khomeini.
  2. The rational and analyzing leader' are holding to the facts supported by numbers. He is systematic and can effectively control. Examples of this type are Clement Attlee, Robert Peel, or Jimmy Carter.
  3. The pragmatist – The contractor of established plans, skillfully solving problems. Leaders of this type are typically not visionary. They seek to subjugate the people to their will. Historical examples: Bismarck, Lenin, Stalin, Lyndon B. Johnson.


  • Managerial Psychology. Éditions University of Cahicago Press, Chicago-London, 1975,
  • Corporate Pathfinders. Homewood, Ill. Dow Jones-Irwin in 1986
  • Harold J. Leavitt and Jean Lipman-Blumen: Hot Groups : Seeding Them, Feeding Them, and Using Them to Ignite Your Organization. Oxford University Press 1999, ISBN 0-19-512686-6
  • Top Down, Why Hierarchies are Here to Stay and How to Manage Them More Effectively Harold J. Leavitt, Harvard Business School Press, 2004



    • Richard Koch: The dictionary management and finance. Tools, time, techniques from A to Z, Publisher Professional School of Business, Kraków 1997.
    • Stanford Organizational Behavior Pioneer Harold Leavitt Dies at 85 (called). Business Wire, 2007-12-18. (Accessed 2011-02-27).
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