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Leadership
Leadership Traits and Behavioral Theories.
Leow Fook Thye

© 2010 copyright by Leow Fook Thye.

... I would say they are the leaders who have learned to harness both sides of their brains.... p. It is an art which can only be acquired through self-study and a commitment to change for excellence.......... Respecting is not about smothering one another or appearing apologetic for no reason.. It helps us in knowing how to choose the right person for the right job..................e...” Discuss.................... Nora Aunor was a popular movie star with a “husky singing voice” that made her very popular with music fans in the Philippines in the 1970s. being happy and successful is about being able to see the ugliness.............. Dante Ang................. I have also experienced with leaders who seemed to be better at management but failed at leadership.. If I am asked what is the one key-word that makes the top of the top leaders more successful than the others is simply “Respect”........ I have met with self-made millionaires who worked on a particular industry... There is a saying............... Critically examine the traits theories and behavioural theories of leadership.. and in return..... I believe that knowing this enables us to treat people like assets in as humanely as possible........ 3 Behavioural Theory ... What is the difference between them? Illustrate your answer with relevant examples........ seeing the beauty. 6 Concluding Leadership Traits and Behavioural Theories ... The top of the top leaders in the same industry are the ones who understand people..... such as intelligence........ At the same time. Based on my experience....... © 2010 copyright by Leow Fook Thye.. (Ghee & Daft 2004. traits are the distinguishing personal characteristics of a leader........ simply because they had a tendency to manage people like they do on things such as....... a public relations (PR) expert who was appointed as a PR consultant to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo in April 2002............... its beauty...... honesty......... because everyone of them is unique in their own way.2 Coursework/Assignment 2 1....................... Left-brain and Right-brain thinking patterns....... For example.... and appearance.......... “Leadership is more concerned with people than is management.............. papers. They had sympathy and listened to you emphatically... Moving on to Traits theory............ 45) claimed this..... 9 Leadership Leadership is indeed more concerned with people than is management in my viewpoint......... claims that the President owes part of her career success as a politician to her resemblance to Filipino actress and singer Nora Aunor..... i. In a layman term... Contents Traits Theory .... files or other stationeries...... its ugliness. selfconfidence............. .... Examples will be given to support this statement in the following paragraphs of this report. ironically they also cultivated the most logical thinking type of approach to problems..

According to it. respect. some traits are particularly suited to leadership. honesty is the top most sough t after trait from a leader. third .Inspiring. (Shead 2007) The book “The Leadership Challenge” identifies 20 character traits that are generally associated with good leaders. fourth . Most of the time the traits are considered to be naturally part of a person’s personality from birth. (Trait Leadership Theory 2010) Trait Leadership theory is actually a range of theories which share the belief that all leaders are born with. one would be able to identify good leaders. whence in universalism. It implies an openness that subordinates welcome. Competent. . I found that a book called “The Leadership Challenge” is stating that. Some traits are born. there is a saying that: “Honesty is the best policy”. or at least display. leadership trait theory tends to assume that people are born as leaders or not as leaders. you will be able to identify leaders. Intelligent. These virtues © 2010 copyright by Leow Fook Thye. and fifth . it is the most desirable trait follow with second ranking trait . the traits theory could be challenged by factors such as universalism and cultural factors. What is honesty? (Ghee & Daft 2004. willingness to help one another.3 Traits Theory Traits theory basically states that leaders are born. Furthermore. However. Since certain traits are associated with proficient leadership. what are the traits that are universally desired by followers? I would like to include a passage from the book. hence assuming responsibilities as the role of a leader in a given unfortunate circumstance. it assumes that if you could identify people with the correct traits. Integrity means that one is whole. but as well as other areas such as our relationships with friends and family members. eagerness to show forgiveness. We will spend some time studying about the most desirable trait according to the book “The Leadership Challenge”. (Shead 2007) Leadership trait theory is the idea that people are born with certain character traits. I remember using this phrase while I was presenting in a computer lab months ago for another course’s subject.Forward-Looking. Since certain traits are associated with proficient leadership. such as. After all. they command admiration. And months later as I was enrolled for leadership’s subject. statistically has shown us that honesty is indeed one best trait a leader must learn to adopt. if one could identify people with the correct traits. Inspiring. When leaders model their convictions through their daily actions. “The Leadership Challenge” and credited my thanks to this website. genuinely caring and by doing so. so that one’s actions are in keeping with one’s words. So. I strongly believe in this. Forward-Looking. Some display their traits at home. (Trait Leadership Theory 2010) situational studies have found that traits are not universal. The top five traits are: Honest. whereas in cultural factors.Competent. What are the assumptions of Trait theory? (Trait Leadership Theory 2010) People are born with inherited traits. most of them displayed their leaderships’ characteristics at their young age such as during primary or secondary school. they depend on the situation. certain key personalities traits. not only in organization’s leadership. I agree on this one: as I was observing some great leaders. At least it helps in their careers. what is effective leadership in the USA may be not as effective in Japan.Intelligent. and people who make good leaders have the right (or sufficient) combination of traits.49) Honesty refers to truthfulness and non-deception. p. From this standpoint. and loyalty. 48 .

p. however he thought Theory Y was difficult to use in large -scale operations. (Ghee & Daft 2004. That cannot even be truthful to him and in fact a selfish trait. A great example of the Asian Tiger founder (Singapore). “truthful. but not the most well off. rationally as McGregor sees it.” One popular Traits theory analysis is McGregor’s X and Y Theory of Leadership. I believe that the three elements are intertwined. news agency Bloomberg made an unreserved apology to Singapore’s Senior Minister (SM) Lee Kuan Yew. If they doubt that. but it could not be truthful when he was only recruiting for his self-interest. Our people know that. Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew has indicated about the importance of being honest. After all. (What is Theory X and Y? Description 2010) McGregor sees Theory Y as the preferable model and management method. 49) On August 26. a major state-owned company. I would see China in a condition of X style of government. we are out. as in past. this fellow was focusing only on recruiting pretty girls’ members into the club. if we are willing to follow someone. Prime Minister (PM) Goh Chok Tong. That’s because we run it differently. Commenting on this episode. One example was. “Everyone knows that if you impugn our integrity. It is hard to judge if it is correct or wrong because.500 managers asked the values most desired in leaders. wife of Deputy Prime Minister Lee. One survey of 1. How can it be otherwise? We are the best paid of all ministers in the region. I have experienced with some members from our college’s club that they cannot be truthful if they are not also ethical and principled. He was trying to be truthful to help in the club.4 are the foundation of trust between leaders and followers. would likely donate to charities. and principled”. whether it be into battle or into boardroom. SM Lee says. we first want to assure ourselves that the person is worthy of our trust. The authors concluded: Honesty is absolutely essential to leadership. ethical. because it violated the ethical and principled part. Integrity was the most important characteristic. This apology was likely to be accompanied by a sizable monetary compensation which the leaders. ethical. Many inconsistencies of words and actions were seen and felt. Theory Y will be difficult to use in large-scale operations. We want to be fully confident in the integrity of our leaders. and principled. 2002. The table below shows the values of X and Y theory in Leadership. we must clear our name. was appointed as executive director of Temasek Holdings. . In my point of view. © 2010 copyright by Leow Fook Thye. We want to know that he or she is being truthful. and Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lee Hsien Loong for insinuating that there was nepotism when Ho Ching.

People learn to accept responsibility and seek responsibility. Theory Y People view work as being as natural as play and rest. Average employees want to be directed. but even naturally seek responsibility. they will be selfdirecting to the aims of the organization. Production workers. Average humans. Participative Complex Problem Solving. Control and punishment are not only the mechanisms to let people perform. Large scale efficient operations. Provided people are motivated. Average humans are clear and unambiguous and want to feel secure at work. Conducive to © 2010 copyright by Leow Fook Thye. Job satisfaction is key to engaging employees and ensuring their commitment. Mass Manufacturing. Application Shop Floor. People don’t like responsibility. Because people dislike work they have to be coerced or controlled by management and threatened so they work had enough. . Management of Professionals. Managers and Professional. Their ingenuity should be used to solve problems at work. Professional Services.5 Theory X Assumptions Humans inherently dislike working and will try to avoid if they can. Humans expend the same amount of physical and mental effort in their work as in their private lives. will not only accept. under the proper conditions. People are imaginative and creative. Knowledge Workers.

Soft Management. in that it assumes that leadership capability can be learned. In Behavioural theory of leadership. as you simply assess both leadership success and the actions of leaders. In the early years (1940s – 1950s). and self-confidence. as opposed to simple psychometric assessment that sorts those with leadership potential from those who will never have the chance. Participative. In about (1950s – 1960s). (Ghee & Daft 2004. 51) The behaviour approach says that anyone who adopts the appropriate behaviour can be a good leader. The former theory has over-crossed throughout the years into the 1980s however. . A behavioural theory is relatively easy to develop. (Behavioural Theory 2010) Behavioural is a big leap from Trait Theory. Leaders are made. integrity. and they are made by effort and hard work. Behavioural theory believes that managers’ leadership potential can be trained into effective leadership competencies and leadership is to be combined with management to achieve the greatest possible outcome. people can learn to become leaders through teaching and observation . I believe that Behavioural leadership started to be more well-known. you can then © 2010 copyright by Leow Fook Thye. whence disregarding situational factors and followers’ effectiveness as well as disregarding the dynamics of learning and change. These companies are willing to spend a large sum of money to train their employees to be more effective in leadership and management. we can see that more and more companies are hiring professional trainers to train managers’ leadership potential and some have proven to be effective. Behaviours can be learned more readily than traits. it is believed that leaders are not born. not born. (What is Theory X and Y? Description 2010). In Traits theory of leadership. strength. decisiveness.6 Management Style Authoritarian. According to this theory. charisma. this leadership theory focuses on the actions of leaders. This opens the floodgates to leadership development. historical studies on leadership tended to lean more towards Traits Theory or the Great Man theory which has been discussed. bravery. (Cherry 2010) Behavioural theories of leadership are based upon the belief that great leaders are made. Diverse research programs on leadership behaviour have sought to uncover the behaviours that leaders engage in rather than what traits a leader possesses. enabling leadership to be accessible to all. not on mental qualities or internal states. p. it is believed that leade rs are born with specific desirable traits such as intelligence. rather than being inherent. Leadership can be learned and it is not automatic. enthusiasm. Nowadays. Behavioural Theory On contrary to leadership as an inborn trait. Hard Management. With a large enough study. Rooted in behaviourism.

Traits theory in leadership is an art form of approach in selecting or identifying potential leaders. An autocratic leader is one who tends to centralize authority and derive power from position. he has to make and announce decision to his client if the case is near the deadline and he didn’ t have time to teach his client about how to apply certain law into certain cases. I would try to simplify the difference of approaches between the two theories by simply stating that. SOURCE: Tannenbaum.7 correlate statistically significant behaviours with success. When can we be more inclined to lean towards Subordinate-centred Leadership? (Clark 2008) This style involves the leader including one or more employees in the decision making process (determining what to do and how to do it). In some situations. they allow the team to make many of the decisions. How to choose a leadership pattern.. p. let’s take a look at the Leadership Continuum from the previous page. The application of the behaviours such as Autocratic and Democratic style of behaviour are dependent to the type of circumstances of an organization. thus adding a second layer of understanding. 51) One study that served as a precursor to the behaviour approach recognized autocratic and democratic leadership styles. control of rewards. (Ghee & Daft 2004. May/June). whence Behavioural theory in leadership is a scientific approach to choices. and it doesn't need close monitoring or supervision. he has to at least sell decision or present ideas and invite questions if the company has recruited a new group of employees with no experience in the industry. (Leadership styles 2010) Laissez-faire leaders don't interfere. encourages participation. & Schmidt. In a more straight-forward manner. and coercion. Typically this happens when the team is highly capable and motivated. I would believe that not all occasions and situations are suitable to one single type of behaviour. the leader maintains the final © 2010 copyright by Leow Fook Thye. Same goes to a CEO when circumstance has short time-frame. (1973. H. relies on subordinates’ knowledge for completion of tasks. A mixed of the two styles is effective for example. and depends on subordinate respect for influence. You can also identify behaviours which contribute to failure. W. However. . Harvard Business Review. A democratic leader delegates authority to others. R. such as a lawyer.

In initiating structure. he used his power to appoint the lieutenants and made them accountable to him. Two styles in particular were formulated and they are called consideration and initiating structure. Organizing work. Using this style is not a sign of weakness. Note that a leader is not expected to know everything -. He broke with tradition and added an additional layer (that is. 53) The findings of the original University of Iowa studies indicated that leadership behaviour had a definite effect on outcomes. rather it is a sign of strength that your employees will respect.8 decision making authority. The Leadership Grid can be used to measure the success of leaders who have been categorized as Behavioural leaders. This is normally used when you have part of the information. 54 . and Emphasizing the meeting of deadlines. In terms of initiating structure. By implications. Differences of Traits theory and Behavioural theory can also be seen as. (Ghee & Daft 2004. which has implemented well on the implication for Ohio State Studies is such as the changes introduced in 2002 by Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee Hwa to make the government more effective and efficient. That is when manager presents tentative decision subject to change. he had two problems. physical trait such as good-looking guy may look good to some people but not at all to other people. it describes behaviour such as being Sensitive to subordinates. most leaders fall along a continuum including consideration and initiating structure. Next. handed back by the British to China. we will look at other well-known behavioural styles which are believed to be able to influence the outcomes of a company. p. Defining roles. © 2010 copyright by Leow Fook Thye. some civil servants were not willing to carry out his request to implement his policies because they were politically neutral. An example of a Ministerial System in Hong Kong. what is meant in this context is that. Researchers conducted surveys to identify specific dimensions of leader behaviour. . such as follower performance and satisfaction. secon d. in Behavioural theory. p. (Ghee & Daft 2004. and being Fair and Just. For example. different groups in the civil service were pushing for their sectoral interests. it describes behaviours such as Setting goals.5) or etc. will be used. Tung’s leadership style in restructuring the Hong Kong administration system was driven by a high degree of concern for both structure and people. First. In terms of consideration.55) When Hong Kong Chief Tung Chee Hwa took office in 1997 to run Fragrance Harbor. a Cabinet) of fourteen policy-makers who would report to him directly. he was aware of the need to ensure that appointees. in Traits theory. On contrary. Listening actively. would not lose out because of the new line separating the bureaucracy and the Cabinet. showing Concern for workers. Numbers such as (1. who crossed over to the new Cabinet. It is qualitative.this is why you employ knowledgeable skilful employees. the traits are not quantifiable. Setting standards. Establishing mutual trust. and your employees have other parts.it allows them to become part of the team and allows you to make better decisions. or presents problem and get suggestions before making decisions. In consideration. Using this style is of mutual benefit -. Assigning tasks. showing Appreciation.

Concluding Leadership Traits and Behavioural Theories In my conclusion of this discussion. teams can examine. (Ghee & Daft 2004. it is time to improve on our behaviours such as seeking for coach or a mentor for our particular job. Some people who are good at leading in a certain career do not mean he or she is able to lead in other professions. (The Leadership Grid™ 2010) Grid theory makes behaviours as tangible and objective as any other corporate commodity. the higher the Concern for Results. no amount of motivation. © 2010 copyright by Leow Fook Thye. In the second number on the right. the higher the number it is. They can explore types of critique that work best for them and why. it is tangible. for instance. For the latter group.9) often is considered the most effective style and is recommended because organization members work together to accomplish tasks. the higher the Concern for People. As plain as we can see. By studying each of the seven Leadership Grid styles and the resulting relationship skill behaviours. coaching. enjoy spending time reading. we can definitely lead ourselves. The Leadership Grid. we definitely need to identify our own traits so that we are able to find a suitable career or job. In the first number on the left. live in household of strict rules for generations may go to law school and become successful lawyers. At least to ourselves. However. 56) Team management (9. I would like to end this by a note. And to them. I believe everyone can be an effective leader. After that. how behaviours help or hurt them. On the other hand.9 SOURCE: Blake & Mouton. .. no amount of training can help because their inborn traits were more suitable for health products marketing. and training can help in marketing products. p. the higher the number it is. some people who have been born with traits like. enjoy intellectual stimulation. continuous exposure to knowledge and analytical subjects will be rewarding for their career. in objective terms. and more training and coaching on that area will be effective for them.

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