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Trait Theories of Leadership

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Can you identify the key trait theories of leadership and give a brief description of them? If possible can you say which ones, if any, are used nowadays.

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This solution explains and describes the key trait theories of leadership, including their present relevance. Supplemented with an excellent article on leadership.

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Please refer to file response attached, which is also presented below. I have also provided supporting documents that you may find interesting. I hope this helps and take care.

Today, leaders need to be flexible, which include:

· Personal improvement (optimizing their strengths and overcoming their weaknesses)
· Removing emotional blind spots
· Improving leadership styles
· Enhancing their Creativity
· Enhancing their interpersonal skills
· Managing stress
· Managing disagreements/conflicts constructively

1. What are the key trait theories of leadership?

THE TRAIT APPROACH - leadership is understood in terms of the traits individual (individual, personality variable, motivation variables, skills). The earliest studies of leadership focused on the traits of the person, sometimes called the Great Man Theory and the Trait theories. This approach assumes that great leaders are born that way. Researchers sought to identify the characteristics that were similar in effective leaders. This theory was fueled by the relatively new field of psychology and emerging research on personality, intelligence, and other traits that became so prevalent in the early twentieth century. However, in the late 40s, Ralph Stogdill published his classic research that found no statistically significant difference in hundreds of studies enough to prove traits could predict effective leadership. This famous "Stogdill paper" (1948) essentially ended most personality-based leadership research for several decades.

The theory, which until the mid-1940s formed the basis of most leadership research, cited traits believed to be characteristic of leaders, but the list of grew in length over the years, to include all manner of physical, personality and cognitive factors, including height, intelligence and communication skills.

1. Individual traits - include all manner of physical, personality and cognitive factors, including height, intelligence and communication skills (i.e., high energy level, tolerance for stress, emotional maturity, integrity, self-confidence and persistence, drive, desire to lead, self-confidence, intelligence, and job-relevant knowledge).

2. Personality variables (Judge and Bono -2000).

· Extraversion - the tendency to be sociable, assertive,
active, talkative, energetic and outgoing.
· Agreeableness - the disposition to be cooperative, helpful,
and easy to get along with.

3. Motivation - other aspects of personality.

· Need for power (high) - enjoys influencing others.
· Need for achievement (high) - enjoys attaining goals and accomplishing difficult tasks.
· Need for affiliation (low) - enjoys social activities and seeks close, supportive relationships with others.

4. Skills (moving slightly toward including behavior)

· Technical skills - knowledge of work operations.
· Conceptual - ability to analyze complex events and perceived trends.
· Interpersonal - understanding of interpersonal and group processes, and the ability to cooperate, and the ability to be persuasive. (

2. If possible, can you say which ones, if any, are used nowadays?

Some people think so (see http://www.drurywriting.com/sharon/1.trait.and.behavior.htm), while others strongly disagree. Leaders are people, who are able to express themselves fully, says Warren Bennis. 'They also know what they want', he continues, 'why they want it, and how to communicate what they want to others, in order to gain ...

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