Trait theory seeks to determine universal personal characteristics of effective leaders.
Theory of Leadership
Trait theory seeks to determine
universal personal characteristics of effective leaders. Numerous physical,
mental, and personality traits were researched during the period from 1930 to
1950. Leaders were characterized by a wide variety of traits ranging all the
way from neatness to nobility. In the late 1940s, Ralph Stogdill reported on
the basis of at least fifteen studies that leaders possess intelligence,
scholarship, dependability in exercising responsibilities, activity and social
participation and socio-economic status. He also found traits such as
sociability, persistence, initiative, knowing how to get things done, self
confidence, alertness, insight, cooperativeness, popularity, adaptability and
verbal facility in ten leadership studies. Persons who are leaders are presumed
to display better judgment and engage themselves in social activities. The
study of the lives of successful leaders reveals that they possessed many of these
Trait studies have not produced
clear results because they do not consider the whole leadership environment.
Personal traits are only a part of the whole environment. Though a certain
trait exists, it will not become active until a certain situation calls for it.
Thus, there is no sure connection between traits and leadership acts.
Leadership is always related to a particular situation. A person may prove
successful in one situation due to some traits, but may fail in another
Another shortcoming of the trait
theory is the failure of its supporters to formulate a common list of traits
found in all successful leaders. For instance, good health is desirable in many
leadership situations, but there are also successful leaders in other situations
that do not enjoy good health. There are so many exceptions to any general
statement about leadership traits. The theory also fails to mention the traits
which are necessary to maintain leadership. Measurement of a trait usually
occurs after a person becomes a leader and it is difficult to suggest the
traits which are pre- requisites of successful leader.
Tags : Management Concepts & Organisational Behaviour - Leadership
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