How useful is the Trait Approach to Leadership Essay

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Pages: 9

How useful is the Trait Approach to Leadership

1. Introduction
Leadership defined as position (power and responsibility relation) or person (personality traits) or result (outcomes) or process (Grint, 2010). Person-based leadership resonates with the traditional traits approach. Trait theory, as the name gives away, is an approach to identify human personality and measure patterns of thoughts and behaviours from individual to individual. Lord et al (1986) indicated that personality traits show relatively strong relations with individuals’ perceptions of leadership.
Therefore how a leader’s character or personality influences leadership. This paper will critically evaluate how useful is the trait approach to leadership. It begins with
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No universal traits that predict leadership in all situations. People who possess certain traits that help them emerge as leaders in one certain career may not exercise their leadership in other professions. For example, an essentially autocratic might be necessary to command efficiently in a military leadership position (Yeakey, 2002). In business enterprises, these are not the essential needs to be an effective leader. It is therefore become apparent that these leadership traits needed to be contextualised in which leadership occurs.

Another limitation is that the trait theory has not adequately linked the traits in connection with leadership outcomes such as employee satisfaction, productivity or team performance. This critic argued that trait approach has not solved how leadership traits influence their followers’ perception. What happens if we have brilliant leaders in terms of traits, but their subordinates who have relatively no interest in following that leader? According to Grint (2010, p84) “traits manifest leaders as possessions of an individual but leadership is a relationship”. So the limitation is: there were unclear evidence of the cause and effect of relationship between leadership and traits.

A third shortcoming, the trait approach has failed to delimit a definitive list of leadership traits because the list of successful leaders’ traits tends to be very long and has emerged appears endless (Northouse, 2013). Due to the studies on traits having been