The earliest approaches to the study of leadership focused not on the process of influencing others, but on the personal characteristics of the leaders themselves. Philosophers and researchers alike tried to determine what traits - physical, intellectual, and personal - distinguish leaders from followers (sometimes called "The Great Man" approach). Early studies revealed a surprisingly large number of traits related to leadership success. Researchers have analyzed over 300 of these studies and found a few traits to be quite reliable characteristics of leaders (Table 5). However, because researchers found no single small set of traits that reliably predicts leadership success in a variety of situations, the trait approach lost credibility in the 1950s and 1960s. Experts now recognize that certain traits increase the likelihood that a person will be an effective leader, but they do not guarantee effectiveness, and the relative importance of different traits depends on the nature of the leadership situation. The trait approach has not fully died out, but the focus has shifted more to what leaders do to be successful, rather than what kinds of personalities or physiques they might have.
A recent published analysis of leadership traits condensed the important primary ones into six core-trait categories:
1.Drive: Leaders desire to achieve and are ambitious about their work; they take initiatives and show energy and tenacity in accomplishing chosen goals.
2.Motivation: Leaders want to lead; they possess a socialized or positive need for power and are willing to take charge.
3.Honesty and Integrity: The best leaders are honest and truthful, and they do what they say they will do.
4.Self-Confidence: Leaders project their confidence by being assertive and decisive and taking risks. They admit mistakes and foster trust and commitment to a vision. They are emotionally stable, rather than recklessly adventurous.
5.Cognitive Ability: Leaders tend to be intelligent, perceptive, and conceptually skilled, but are not necessarily geniuses. They show analytical ability, good judgment, and the capacity to think strategically.
6.Business Knowledge: Leaders tend to have technical expertise in their businesses.
1. Which of these statements expresses the main idea of the text?
a) The earliest approaches to the study of leadership focused on the personal characteristics of the leaders themselves.
b) Philosophers and researchers alike tried to determine what traits distinguish leaders from followers.
c) Experts now recognize that the relative importance of different traits depends on the nature of the leadership situation.
d) A recent analysis of leadership traits condensed the important primary ones into six core-trait categories.
3. Are these statements true or false? Correct the false ones.
a) The first tactics of studying leadership did not give attention to the process of influencing others.
b) Early studies revealed that very few traits were connected with leadership success.
c) The analysis of over 300 of these studies showed that only a small number of traits were quite reliable features of leaders.
d) Certain traits are known to increase the likelihood that a person will be an effective leader, so they assure effectiveness.
e) Leaders having drive take initiatives and show energy and determination in achieving chosen goals.
f) Leaders with motivation are reluctant to assume responsibility.
g) Honesty and integrity are inherent traits of a good leader.
h) Self-confident leaders take risks and are thoughtlessly adventurous.
i) Leaders with highly developed cognitive ability are characterized by good judgment and the capacity to think strategically.
4. Answer the questions.
a) What did the earliest approaches to the study of leadership focus on?
b) What does "The Great Man" approach imply?
c) Why did the trait approach lose credibility in the 1950s and 1960s?
d) What does the relative importance of different traits depend on?
e) Is the trait approach used no more?
f) What things does the trait approach to leadership focus on presently?
g) Do self-confident leaders deny mistakes?
h) Do good leaders need to be geniuses?
i) How does the term ‘business knowledge’ relate to leadership traits?