Leader categorization theory (LCT), originally proposed by Robert Lord, places emphasis on the cognitive and perceptual processes underlying workplace leadership. It proposes that subordinates, through socialization and past experiences with leaders, develop implicit leadership theories (ILTs), that is, cognitive representations in the form of prototypes that specify the traits and abilities that characterize an “ideal” workplace leader. ILTs represent preexisting cognitive structures or prototypes that are stored in memory and come into play when subordinates communicate with leaders. In other words, when subordinates interact with someone in a leadership position, this activates their ILT from memory, and then they can evaluate the person's leadership qualities against their ILT. This entry describes leader categorization theory and related research.

ILTs do not represent objective realities inherent in the ...

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