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The earliest approach to the study of leadership sought to identify a set of traits that distinguished leaders from nonleaders. The traits that show relatively strong relations with leadership are discussed below.Judge, T.
Many observers believe that Carly Fiorina, the ousted CEO of HP, demonstrated high levels of intelligence but low levels of empathy for the people around her, which led to an overreliance on numbers while ignoring the human cost of her decisions.Karlgaard, R. General mental ability, which psychologists refer to as “g” and which is often called “IQ” in everyday language, has been related to a person’s emerging as a leader within a group. Psychologists have proposed various systems for categorizing the characteristics that make up an individual’s unique personality; one of the most widely accepted is the “Big Five” model, which rates an individual according to Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Self-esteem is not one of the Big Five personality traits, but it is an important aspect of one’s personality. Research also shows that people who are effective as leaders tend to have a moral compass and demonstrate honesty and integrity.Reave, L. There are also some traits that are negatively related to leader emergence and being successful in that position. Condoleezza Rice had different responsibilities as the provost of Stanford University compared to her role as secretary of state for the United States. Despite problems in trait approaches, these findings can still be useful to managers and companies. Many studies searched for a limited set of personal attributes, or traits, which would make someone be viewed as a leader and be successful as a leader. Rather than being intimidated by challenges, they are invigorated by them because they believe they have the ability to overcome any obstacle. They are in a constant learning mode, always wanting to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to knowing about trends and new developments. Folks who are happy with the status quo or who don’t thrive in the chaos that change often entails will not do well in these important roles. Getting people to move beyond complacency requires an ability to communicate both to their heads (through making the business case for change) and their hearts (through story-telling that reaches the emotions.) This is not a skill everyone has. Innovation leaders and intrapreneurs need to be clear communicators who can persuade and inspire other people, including those who are reluctant to embrace change. Innovation leaders and intrapreneurs accept the high level of uncertainty with regards to market, technology and organizational issues and are comfortable making decisions based on what they know right now.
What were the personality characteristics and the physical and psychological attributes of people who are viewed as leaders? Specifically, people who have high mental abilities are more likely to be viewed as leaders in their environment.House, R. Several of the Big Five personality traits have been related to leadership emergence (whether someone is viewed as a leader by others) and effectiveness.Judge, T.
For example, to celebrate Microsoft’s 25th anniversary, Ballmer enthusiastically popped out of the anniversary cake to surprise the audience.
The degree to which a person is at peace with oneself and has an overall positive assessment of one’s self worth and capabilities seem to be relevant to whether someone is viewed as a leader.


For example, agreeable people who are modest, good natured, and avoid conflict are less likely to be perceived as leaders.Judge, T.
For example, knowing about leader traits helps organizations select the right people into positions of responsibility. Some traits that are consistently related to leadership include intelligence (both mental ability and emotional intelligence), personality (extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to experience, self-esteem), and integrity. True innovators also understand that lessons from one arena can often be used to drive innovation in another, so they usually do not confine their learning to just their own narrow field. In their communications ability, they serve as role models for the openness that is required for an innovative corporate culture.
They also have the flexibility to reverse these decisions should new and relevant information arise, and they often foresee this by having B and C options to their chosen A decision. Because of the problems in measurement of personality traits at the time, different studies used different measures. Leaders with high self-esteem support their subordinates more and, when punishment is administered, they punish more effectively.Atwater, L. The key to benefiting from the findings of trait researchers is to be aware that not all traits are equally effective in predicting leadership potential across all circumstances.
The main limitation of the trait approach was that it ignored the situation in which leadership occurred.
Because they are both dominant and sociable in their environment, they emerge as leaders in a wide variety of situations. Therefore, it is more useful to specify the conditions under which different traits are needed. By having an interest in what other people do and how that impacts the organization, innovation leaders in particular are better prepared to help drive change. Light, of Accenture Institute for High Performance Business, they learned that high performers are likely to position themselves at key points in a network and leverage the network around them better when implementing their plans. In recent years, though, after the advances in personality literature such as the development of the Big Five personality framework, researchers have had more success in identifying traits that predict leadership.House, R.
Out of all personality traits, extraversion has the strongest relationship with both leader emergence and leader effectiveness. Leaders whose integrity is questioned lose their trustworthiness, and they hurt their company’s business along the way. Also, they found that high performers tend to invest in relationships that extend their expertise and help them avoid learning biases and career traps. This is not to say that all effective leaders are extraverts, but you are more likely to find extraverts in leadership positions.
Finally, they discovered that high performers value networks and engage in behaviors that lead to high-quality relationships–not just big networks. He is known as an introvert, and he admits to not having meetings because he does not like them.Buckmaster, J. Individual attributes and leadership style: Predicting the use of punishment and its effects.


Individual differences in leadership emergence: Integrating meta-analytic findings and behavioral genetics estimates. For example, in small, entrepreneurial organizations where leaders have a lot of leeway to determine their own behavior, the type of traits leaders have may make a difference in leadership potential. Most importantly, charismatic leadership, which is among the contemporary approaches to leadership, may be viewed as an example of a trait approach.
In large, bureaucratic, and rule-bound organizations such as the government and the military, a leader’s traits may have less to do with how the person behaves and whether the person is a successful leader.Judge, T. Conscientious people are organized, take initiative, and demonstrate persistence in their endeavors. Self-esteem: Relationship with leader behavior perceptions as moderated by the duration of the superior-subordinate dyad association. A meta-analysis of the relation between personality traits and leadership perceptions: An application of validity generalization procedures. Finally, people who have openness to experience—those who demonstrate originality, creativity, and are open to trying new things—tend to emerge as leaders and also be quite effective. It is possible that those with high self-esteem have greater levels of self-confidence and this affects their image in the eyes of their followers. Self-esteem may also explain the relationship between some physical attributes and leader emergence. For example, research shows a strong relationship between being tall and being viewed as a leader (as well as one’s career success over life). It is proposed that self-esteem may be the key mechanism linking height to being viewed as a leader, because people who are taller are also found to have higher self-esteem and therefore may project greater levels of charisma as well as confidence to their followers.Judge, T. For example, bravery is likely to be a key characteristic in military leaders, but not necessarily in business leaders. Scholars now conclude that instead of trying to identify a few traits that distinguish leaders from nonleaders, it is important to identify the conditions under which different traits affect a leader’s performance, as well as whether a person emerges as a leader.Hackman, J.
We should caution, though, that intelligence is a positive but modest predictor of leadership, and when actual intelligence is measured with paper-and-pencil tests, its relationship to leadership is a bit weaker compared to when intelligence is defined as the perceived intelligence of a leader.Judge, T. The effect of physical height on workplace success and income: Preliminary test of a theoretical model. In addition to having a high IQ, effective leaders tend to have high emotional intelligence (EQ).
People with high EQ demonstrate a high level of self awareness, motivation, empathy, and social skills. The psychologist who coined the term emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman, believes that IQ is a threshold quality: It matters for entry- to high-level management jobs, but once you get there, it no longer helps leaders, because most leaders already have a high IQ. According to Goleman, what differentiates effective leaders from ineffective ones becomes their ability to control their own emotions and understand other people’s emotions, their internal motivation, and their social skills.Goleman, D.



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