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ORGL 3113 FACE TO FACE

Part 2 Chapter 2
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PART 2

 

Chapter 2

Traits, Behaviors, and Relationships

 

Traits are the distinguishing personal characteristics of a leader, such as intelligence, honesty, self confidence, and appearance.  Research has examined leaders who had achieved a level of greatness, and hence became known as the Great Man approach.  Fundamental to this theory was the ideas that some people are born with traits that make them natural leaders.

 

The Great Man approach sought to identify the traits leaders possessed that distinguished them from people who were not leaders.

 

However, research found only a weak relationship between personal traits and leader success.  Indeed, the diversity of traits that effective leaders possess indicates that leadership ability is not necessarily a genetic endowment. 

 

Many studies have been conducted to identify specific leadership traits individual might possess that are common.  Perhaps  R.M. Stogdill are the most widely referenced.

 

In a 1948 literature review Stogdill examined more than 100 studies based on the trait approach.  He uncovered several traits that appeared consistent with effective leadership.  These traits included general intelligence, initiative, interpersonal skills, self confidence, drive for responsibility, and personal integrity.

  

 

TRAIT APPROACH

 

Trait research has been an important part of leadership studies throughout the twentieth century and continues into the twenty first century.  Many researchers still contend that some traits are essential to effective leadership, but only in combination with other factors.

 

WHAT ARE SOME TRAITS YOU THINK MIGHT BE NECESSARY FOR ONE TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LEADER?

Some of the traits considered essential are:

 

Self-Confidence:  Assurance in one’s own judgment, decision making, ideas, and capabilities.  A leader with positive self-image who displays certainty about his or her own ability fosters confidence among followers, gains respect and admiration, and meets challenges.

 

Honesty/integrity:   Honesty refers to truthfulness and non-deception.  

Integrity means that a leader’s character is whole, integrated, and grounded in solid moral principles, and he or she acts in keeping with those principles. 

 

In the wake of widespread corporate scandals, trust is sorely lacking in many organizations.  Leaders need the traits of honesty and integrity to rebuild trusting and productive relationships. 

 

People today are wary of authority and the deceptive use of power, and they are hungry for leaders who hold high standards and reinforce then through everyday actions.

 

Drive:  A third characteristic considered essential for effective leadership is drive.  Drive refers to high motivation that creates a high effort level by a leader.  These individuals seem to have ambition, tenacity, and actively pursue their goals.  They are committed to working long hours over many years and exhibit stamina, vigor and are full of life in order to handle the demanding pace of being a leader.

 

However, it should be noted that traits alone cannot define effective leadership.  Consider, for example, how the same traits that spurred Kenneth Lay’s (Former Chairman and chief executive of Enron Corporation) early success also led to his downfall and contributed to one of the biggest corporate collapses in history.

 

 

BEHAVIOR APPROACH

 

Rather than focusing of traits, the Behaviorist approach suggests that anyone who adopts the appropriate behavior can be a good leader.

 

Diverse research programs on leadership behavior have sought to uncover the behavior that leaders engage in rather than what traits a leader possesses.

It is believed that behavior can be learned more readily than traits, enabling leadership to be accessible to all.

 

AUTOCRATIC VERSUS DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP

 

Central to the behavioral approach is to recognize that leaders generally fall into one of two styles of leadership:

 

Autocratic:  A leader who tends to centralize authority and derive power from position, control of rewards, and coercion.

 

Democratic:  A leader who delegates authority to others, encourages participation, relies on subordinates’ knowledge for completion of tasks, and depends on subordinate respect for influence.

 

 

EMPLOYEE CENTERED VERSES JOB CENTERED

 

A University of Michigan Study took a different approach by directly comparing the behavior of effective and ineffective supervisors who were employer centered verses Job centered. 

 

        Employee centered:  A leadership behavior that displays a focus on the human needs of subordinates.

 

 

This means that in addition to demonstrating support for their subordinates, employee centered leader facilitate positive interaction among followers and seek to minimize conflict.  Because relationships are so important in today’s work environment, many organizations are looking for leaders who can facilitate positive interaction among others. 

 

 

        Job centered:  A leader who directs activities toward efficiency, cost cutting, and scheduling with an emphasis on goals and work facilitation.

 

An advantage of goal emphasis, work facilitation, and support is that this behavior can be performed by subordinates’ peers, rather than by the designated leader only.  In other words, others in the organization could supply these behaviors, which enhanced performance.

 

SUMMARY AND INTERPRETATION

 

 

The historical development of leadership theory presented in this chapter introduces some important ideas about leadership.  While certain personal traits and abilities constitute a greater likelihood for success in a leadership role, they are not in themselves sufficient to guarantee effective leadership. 

 

Behaviors are equally significant, as outlined by the research of several universities.  Therefore, the style of leadership demonstrated by an individual greatly determines the outcome of the leadership endeavor.  Often, a combination of styles is more effective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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