The trait model of leadership is based on the characteristics of many leaders - both successful and unsuccessful - and is used to predict leadership effectiveness. The resulting lists of traits are then compared to those of potential leaders to assess their likelihood of success or failure.
Scholars taking the trait approach attempted to identify physiological (appearance, height, and weight), demographic (age, education and socioeconomic background), personality, self-confidence, and aggressiveness), intellective (intelligence, decisiveness, judgment, and knowledge), task-related (achievement drive, initiative, and persistence), and social characteristics (sociability and cooperativeness) with leader emergence and leader effectiveness.
Successful leaders definitely have interests, abilities, and personality traits that are different from those of the less effective leaders. Through many researches conducted in the last three decades of the 20th century, a set of core traits of successful leaders have been identified. These traits are not responsible solely to identify whether a person will be a successful leader or not, but they are essentially seen as preconditions that endow people with leadership potential.
Among the core traits identified are:
The trait theory gives constructive information about leadership. It can be applied by people at all levels in all types of organizations. Managers can utilize the information from the theory to evaluate their position in the organization and to assess how their position can be made stronger in the organization. They can get an in-depth understanding of their identity and the way they will affect others in the organization. This theory makes the manager aware of their strengths and weaknesses and thus they get an understanding of how they can develop their leadership qualities.
The traits approach gives rise to questions: whether leaders are born or made; and whether leadership is an art or science. However, these are not mutually exclusive alternatives. Leadership may be something of an art; it still requires the application of special skills and techniques. Even if there are certain inborn qualities that make one a good leader, these natural talents need encouragement and development. A person is not born with self-confidence. Self-confidence is developed, honesty and integrity are a matter of personal choice, motivation to lead comes from within the individual, and the knowledge of business can be acquired. While cognitive ability has its origin partly in genes, it still needs to be developed. None of these ingredients are acquired overnight.
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