C. Leadership Theories
1. Trait Theories
Traits can be defined as an individual's general characteristics including capacities, motives, or patterns of behavior (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991). Similarly, the absence of certain traits may
keep an individual from emerging or being effective as a leader. Early scholars argued that leaders are born and not made. Only a select number of individuals possess certain traits that cannot be developed. It is understandable why people believed these theory-so many leadership positions were hereditary for centuries.
The theory of trait leadership developed from early leadership research, which focused primarily on finding a group of heritable attributes that differentiated leaders from non-leaders. Probably
Edwin Ghiselli conducted one of the most widely publicized trait theory studies. Professor Ghiselli studied over 300 managers from 90 different businesses in the US and published his results in 1971.
He identified six traits of effective leadership:
-Supervisory ability-Getting the job done through other.
-Seeking responsibility-the motivation to work hard to succeed.
-Intelligence-sound judgment, reasoning, and thinking capacity.
-Decisiveness-the ability to solve problems and make decisions competently.
-Self-assurance-viewing oneself as capable of coping with problems. Behaving in a manner that shows others that you have self-confidence.
-Initiative-Self-starting in getting the job done with a minimum of supervision.
Research has demonstrated that successful leaders differ from other people and possess certain personality traits. We now know that leadership qualities can be developed. Trait theories help us
identify traits (for example, integrity, empathy, assertiveness, good decision-making skills, and likability) that are helpful when leading others. However, none of these traits, nor any specific combination of them, will guarantee success as a leader. Traits are external behaviors that emerge from the internal beliefs and processes that are important for effective leadership.
In recent years, the research about leader traits has made some progress in identifying a list of personality traits that are highly predictive of leader effectiveness.
Although there has been an increased focus by researchers on trait leadership, this theory remains one of the most criticized theories of leadership. Another criticism of trait leadership is its silence on
the influence of the situational context surrounding leaders.