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    Stogdill's trait theory

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    Explain what Stogdill's work was and how it was different from his predecessors. What is the significance of Ralf Stogdill's trait theory work?

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    1. What is the significance of Ralf Stogdill's trait theory work?

    Trait Theory: Main Assumptions:
    People are born with inherited traits.
    Some traits are particularly suited to leadership.
    People who make good leaders have the right (or sufficient) combination of traits.
    Description:
    Early research on leadership was based on the psychological focus of the day, which was of people having inherited characteristics or traits. Attention was thus put on discovering these traits, often by studying successful leaders, but with the underlying assumption that if other people could also be found with these traits, then they, too, could also become great leaders.

    Stogdill (1974) identified the following traits and skills as critical to leaders.

    Traits Skills
    • Adaptable to situations
    • Alert to social environment
    • Ambitious and achievement-orientated
    • Assertive
    • Cooperative
    • Decisive
    • Dependable
    • Dominant (desire to influence others)
    • Energetic (high activity level)
    • Persistent
    • Self-confident
    • Tolerant of stress
    • Willing to assume responsibility • Clever (intelligent)
    • Conceptually skilled
    • Creative
    • Diplomatic and tactful
    • Fluent in speaking
    • Knowledgeable about group task
    • Organised (administrative ability)
    • Persuasive
    • Socially skilled

    McCall and Lombardo (1983) researched both success and failure identified four primary traits by which leaders could succeed or 'derail':
    • Emotional stability and composure: Calm, confident and predictable, particularly when under stress.
    • Admitting error: Owning up to mistakes, rather than putting energy into covering up.
    • Good interpersonal skills: Able to communicate and persuade others without resort to negative or coercive tactics.
    • Intellectual breadth: Able to understand a wide range of areas, rather than having a narrow (and narrow-minded) area of expertise.
    2. Explain what Stogdill's work was and how it was different from his predecessors.
    Stogdill's work expanded on the work of his predecessors. The Great Man theory was up until the 20th century. The Great Man Theory proposes that "personal characteristics of great leaders determined the course of history." (Denmark 1993, p. 344). Great leaders were believed to arise to the ...

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    This solution explains what Stogdill's work was and how it was different from his predecessors. It discusses the significance of Ralf Stogdill's trait theory work.

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