Leadership – The Trait theories - Sample Essay

Leadership is a process through which a person tries to get organizational members to do something the person desires. The leader’s influence extends beyond supervisory responsibility and formal authority. Leadership theories have long sought to identify what are the characteristics that make an effective leader. In this paper, three main bodies of research and knowledge are Trait, Behaviour and Contingency approaches. The Trait theories Trait theories: leaders possess certain personal quality that leaders had to greater degree than non-leaders.

Which attempted to identify the personality traits of the effective leader to facilitate the selection leader. The trait approach is based on the some assumptions: that individual is more important than situation; and leadership is inborn. Many early researchers believed that leaders such as Lincoln and Hitler had some unique set of qualities that distinguished them their followers. The trait approach seeks to identify enduring personal characteristics and traits that distinguish leaders from followers. For example: Intelligence helps a lead solve complex problems.

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Assertiveness helps a leader frankly express demands and attitudes and enable him to perform many tasks and achieve goals. Initiative when high, help a leader deal with many demands he faces on a day-to-day basis. Resilience, that a highly flexible in adjusting their behaviour in different situations Empathy ensures a leader putting them in the followers’ shoes. Drive fuels a leader to be the best of the field he chooses to pursue. Many finding illustrated that individuals who possess certain traits are more likely to become effective leaders than those who do not, . but none of traits guarantee success.

, Many individuals who possess the identified traits never become leaders. Why the trait approach is not guarantee some one become effective leader? There are four reasons: it overlooks the needs of followers, it generally fails to clarity the relative importance of various traits, it doesn’t separate cause from effect, and more important, it ignore the situation factors. .For instance, observations may lead one to believe that effective leaders are more likely to be assertive and outgoing, while there are outstanding leaders such as Lincoln who were relatively shy and withdrawn.

Obviously, the trait approach alone cannot fully explain why or how leadership occurs. It suggests that the need to move to the other factors that contribute to leadership effectiveness. The Behaviour theories Rather than looking at the innate traits of leaders, behaviour approach argues that successful leaders can be train and teach, attention switched from selecting leaders on personality trait to training and developing leaders in appropriate behavior patterns.

This research tradition argues that considerate, participative, and democratic and involving leadership behaviour is more effective than impersonal, autocratic and directive. Weaknesses of Trait and Behaviour Approaches Both trait and behaviour approach essentially ignores the situation in which leadership takes place. The trait approach takes into account leaders’ personal aspects but ignores the situations in which they try to lead. Certain leadership traits may lead to effective leadership in certain situations and to ineffective leadership in other situations.

Dominance, for example, may make a production manager a good leader. But the same trait in the head consultant may actually detract from the leader’s effectiveness because the subordinates tend to be independent thinkers who work best when they are left alone. Similarly, the behaviour approach seeks to identify the behaviours responsible for effective leadership without considering how the situation affects behaviour. However, the situation also impacts on a leader’s behaviours. The performance of participants can be enhanced when the project manager engages in initiating structure by scheduling the project.

In contrast, the performance of a group of assembly-line workers who know exactly how to do their jobs may be unaffected by their leader’s initiating structure In fact, it became increasingly clear that the predicting of leadership success was more complex. The contingency theories suggested that leadership effectiveness was dependent on the situation and another to be able to isolate those situational conditions. that under condition a, style X would be appropriate whereas style Y would be more suitable for condition.

Many developed leadership approaches in this theories such as Fiedler’s models, Hersey and Blanchard’s situational theory and leader-member exchange theory etc. Fiedler’s contingency theory acknowledges that personal characteristics influence whether leaders are effective. i. e. effective leadership requires the right behaviour, skills and attitudes. He assumed two kinds of leaders: task-oriented and relationship-oriented. Leaders who are tasked-related want their subordinates to perform at a high level and accomplish all of their assigned tasks.

Their first priority is task accomplishment, and they push subordinates to make sure that the job gets done. Being concerned for the satisfactions and feelings of subordinates is their second priority. Although relationship-related leaders want their subordinates to perform at a high level, their first priority is developing good relationships with their followers. Their second priority is making sure that the job gets done. He argued that effectiveness is influenced by three sets of situational factors: 1. the extent to which the task in hand is structured.

The nature of the relationships between the leader and followers; 3. the leaders’ position power. Fiedler identified three typical sets of conditions, then matching leaders into situations to achieve maximum leadership effectiveness. This theory has two strengths it demonstrates the importance of contextual factors in determining leader behaviour and effectiveness. ; it provides a systematic framework for developing the self-awareness of managers. : Fiedler’s contingency theory is positive but weak: 1. the key variables, task structure, power and relationships, are difficult to assess.

The leader who wants to rely on this framework to determine the most effective style for a given situation has to rely more on intuition than systematic analysis. 2. the concept of the least preferred co-worker is an unusual one, and it is not clear just what this measures. 3. the framework does not take into account the needs of subordinates. 4. the need for a leader to have relevant technical competence is ignored. Most contingency theories argue that leaders should change their style to fit the context, however, Fiedler argued leaders by choosing conditions in which their preferred style was most likely effective.

As Hersey and Blanchard’s situational theory, which argues that effectiveness are reflected leaders adapt style to meet the demands of the situation in which they operate. Successful leadership is achieved by selecting the right leadership style. The model established four basic leadership styles: 1. telling ( high task-high relationship), the leader tells subordinates what , how, when, and where to do various tasks. It emphasizes directive behavior. 2. selling (high task-high relationship). The leader provides both directive behaviour and supportive behaviour. 3. participating (low task-high relationship).

The leader and follower share in decision making , with the main role of the leader being facilitating and communicating. 4. delegating (low task-low relationship). The leader providers little direction or support. This theory emphasis on the need for flexibility in leadership behaviour, and in highlighting the importance of contextual factors. However, this theory has limitation that lask of evidence to support the model in practice. Daniel Goleman reported there are six leadership styles, each style relies on an aspect of emotional intelligence which concerns skill in managing your own emotions and in handing the emotions of others.



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