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Leadership Traits and Attributes David Lange Grand Canyon University LDR 800 May 12, 2010
De Vader. Specific skills which are often included under this concept of cognitive ability are creative reasoning and complex problem-solving. As they analyzed the scores. current leadership theory trends suggest that virtually anyone can learn the skills necessary to be an effective leader. not born (Atwater. Lord. Dionne. First of all. 2002). Data from the studies mentioned above indicate that several conclusions can be drawn about general cognitive ability. Avolio. Although leadership theories throughout history tend to vary on this subject. The most current trends in leadership theory suggest that effective leadership is based on a combination of traits and skills (Sternberg. wise leaders will immerse themselves in the study of what makes an effective leader.000 respondents using a questionnaire designed to test mental ability. Stogdill (1948). transformational leadership suggests that leaders are made. and Keeney and Marchioro (1998) all identify its importance in effective leadership practice. then. the authors tested over 2. Studies by Bird (1940). 1999). In order to become the most effective leaders they can.LEADERSHIP TRAITS AND ATTRIBUTES 2 Leadership Traits and Attributes Effective leadership is one of the most important components for an organization’s success. One of the most prevalent theories of leadership today. & Lau. Camobreco. Cognitive Ability One of the most frequently studied attributes of effective leadership is general cognitive ability. and Alliger (1986). overall intelligence demonstrates a strong connection to effective leadership. Mann (1959). In one study by Morrow and Stern (1990). Making the effort to practice and learn the skills it takes to be effective leaders will enable people in leadership positions to use the style of leadership necessary in any situation they come across. .
(c) openness to experience. and (e) conscientiousness (Digman. MBTI measures four personality types: (a) extroversion versus introversion. & Sleeth. Kilcullen. Additional research has focused on the correlation between effective leadership and personality types as revealed by the MBTI. Kellett. 2002. and Mahony (1997) found similar results in a separate examination that focused on the correlation between analytical ability and managerial success. and O’Conor-Boes (1997) showed that openness to experience was correlated to upper-level management. Tagger. a separate study by Zaccaro. (b) extroversion. Most of these studies have centered on (a) the Big Five factors to leadership and (b) aspects of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) (Digman. and (d) . Parker. Spreitzer. 3 Additional studies (Atwater. 1999) showed significant positive correlations between intelligence and leadership capacity. (c) thinking versus feeling. Williams. 1991). White. (b) sensing versus intuition. However. Personality One of the most recent aspects of effective leadership to be studied is leader personality. 1999. & Saha. McCall. All of these studies indicate the important link of overall intelligence with effective leadership.. 1990). A recent study by Salgado (1997) showed that each of the five aspects was positively correlated to leadership performance except openness to experience. (d) agreeableness. 1990. Hackett. et al.LEADERSHIP TRAITS AND ATTRIBUTES Morrow and Stern (1990) cross-referenced the scores with the probability of leadership success and found a positive correlation between the mental ability test scores and the probability of leadership success. Humphrey. Research of personality and leadership has focused around five headings that have come to be known as the Big Five: (a) emotional stability. McCrae & Costa.
Marks. A study by Barber (1990) showed that leaders in the military were more likely to show the sensing.S. Research of leadership theories has focused on a number of states that motivate an individual to pursue higher levels of leadership: (a) need for power. a study by Connelly. Ehrhart. Taken together. and Woycke (1991) found a strong positive correlation between the need for power and five commonly-accepted criteria of presidential performance. Other recent studies have found connections between personality types and effective leadership. 1990). In their study of U. much recent research shows a strong relationship between certain personality types and effective leadership. Using a different set of performance criteria. Motivation 4 One of the biggest differences between an effective leader and an ineffective leader is the concept of motivation. Spangler. All of these studies together suggest that. and . Threlfall. personality types differ between effective leaders and their followers.LEADERSHIP TRAITS AND ATTRIBUTES judging versus perceiving (McCauley. Additionally. Examining the connection between these states and effective leadership has produced strong correlations between the two concepts. House. and judging personality types. Schneider. leaders most likely to be effective at that level had extraversion and intuition personality types. & Foti. A separate study by McCauley (1990) acknowledged that while any personality type could achieve high-level success in leadership positions. (c) need for responsibility (Smith. at least as far as trends are concerned. 1998). Gilbert. presidents and their need for power and achievement. Zaccaro. and Ehrhart (2002) showed extroversion and judging were positively correlated to effective leadership among high school teachers. Deluga (1998) found a similar connection between performance and the need for power. (b) need for achievement. thinking.
While the results from their study are not necessarily conclusive. . Authority. The focus on a leader’s need for responsibility has been studied more recently. As such. A number of studies have shown how important this type of intelligence can be for an effective leader. Chan and Drasgow (2001) argued that the need for responsibility affects an individual’s efforts to assume leadership positions.LEADERSHIP TRAITS AND ATTRIBUTES 5 Mumford (2001) showed that the need for achievement did not necessarily positively correlate to leader performance. they do show that the motivation to lead can be positively correlated to leadership potential. Chan and Drasgow (2001) identified that a strong correlation exists between individuals who recognize the differences between power and authority and use each when it is most appropriate. Social Intelligence Social intelligence involves the concept of understanding feelings and behaviors of other people and to act accordingly (Marlowe. Essentially. social intelligence refers to a person’s ability to understand which thoughts or emotions his or her followers may be experiencing at a given moment and to respond in a way that best fits the situation. Essentially. the concept of authority is relegated to only those who are in a leadership position. particularly with regard to how this need relates to the Big Five personality factors. 1986). they say. In their study. Chan and Drasgow (2001) identified an important distinction between power and authority. More research is needed to determine whether a strong correlation between effective leadership and the need for responsibility exists. they identified power as the ability to influence the behavior or attitude of others. although it did have an effect on organizational performance. However. power is not exclusive to leadership positions. is the power that a particular position holds and is therefore only to be found within that position.
Taken together. According to Van den Steen. Zazanis. and (b) persuasion. Problem-Solving Skills Mumford. and Gilbert (1994) showed a strong connection between social intelligence and higher leadership performance in military groups. 6 The study compared the self-monitoring results with the levels of potential leaders and found that self-monitoring was associated with higher leader rankings. and problem-solving skills are . A study by Ritchie (1994) indicated that higher social intelligence scores predicted leadership advancement years after initial assessment. and Reiter-Palmon (2000) suggested that effective leadership is a type of problem-solving endeavor. A study by Ferentinos (1996) demonstrated that social intelligence seemed to indicate effective leadership practices. consists of leading followers to do what the leader wishes based solely on the fact that he or she is their leader. these studies demonstrate a strong positive correlation between higher social intelligence and effective leadership. Authority. stronger leaders will depend more on persuasion when follower motivation is important and when the leader is more confident about the right conclusion. Zaccaro.LEADERSHIP TRAITS AND ATTRIBUTES Zaccaro. Another study by Zaccaro. and Kenny (1991) examined the results from a study based on selfmonitoring skills that included observing social cues and responding in an appropriate manner. Diana. Fleishman. a study by Van den Steen (2009) investigated the difference between two types of social intelligence: (a) authority. on the other hand. the difference between authority and persuasion is one of dimension. preferably one which the leader has already examined. Persuasion is a social skill used to provide followers with the information necessary for them to come to a logical conclusion. Harding. Steen’s study determined that while both types are necessary for effective leadership. Forti. Additionally.
though. 7 . which of these traits and skills are most important is still up for debate. While current leadership theories favor the concept that leadership traits and skills can be learned. et al. In a different study. Sternberg’s study showed strong support for the association of a leader’s problem-solving skills and knowledge and his or her effectiveness as a leader. these studies demonstrate the strong correlation between problem-solving skills and effective leadership. (1997) similarly determined that problem-solving skills were positively linked to leadership performance among army civilian managers. Taken together. (2000) supported this concept in their study which demonstrated that effective skills in problem identification and troubleshooting predicted leadership capacities. Even with the empirical information presented here. Zaccaro. Connelly. Based on the studies presented in this paper. White. et al. Sternberg (2002) identified that the knowledge required to successfully troubleshoot is strongly related to a leader’s ability to adapt to different situations. no overall consensus exists as to which traits are the most important ones for effective leadership.LEADERSHIP TRAITS AND ATTRIBUTES therefore a necessary component of effective leadership. Conclusion Researchers do not agree as to which traits and skills are the most important ones for an effective leader to pursue. it is evident that the five traits and skills identified are essential components to effective leadership and certainly merit further empirical study.
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