Leadership Do Traits Matter Essay

Words: 7566
Pages: 31

) Academy of Management Executive, 1991 Vol. 5 No. 2

Leadership: do traits matter?

Shelley A. Kirkpatrick and Edwin A. Locke, University of Maryland Executive Overview

The study ot leader traits has a long and controversial history. While research shows that the possession of certain traits alone does not guarantee leadership success, fhere is evidence that effective leaders are different from other people in certain key respects. Key leader traits include: drive (a broad term which includes achievement, motivation, ambition, energy, tenacity, and initiative): leadership motivation (the desire fo lead but not to seek power as an end in itself): honesty and integrity: self-confidence (which is associated with emotional stability):
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. . . [Tom] finally felt he had the structure and management group in place to grow the division's revenues to $400 million and he now turned his attention to divesting a product group which no longer fit in with the growth objectives of the division.

Drive: achievement, ambition, energy, tenacity, initiative Leadership Motivaton (personalized vs. socialized) Honesty and Integrity Self-confidence (including emotional stability) Cognitive Ability Knowledge of the Business Other Traits (weaker support): charisma, creativity/originality, flexibility Exhibit 1. Leadership Traits


Academy of Management Executive

Managers perform a large amount of work at an unrelenting pace. To perform well, a leader needs to constantly work toward success and improvement. Superior managers and executives are concerned with doing something better than they or other have ever done it. For example, at PepsiCo only "aggressive achievers" survive. Similarly, Thomas Watson of IBM has been described as "driven throughout by a personal determination to create a company larger than NCR."^ This brings us to a second related motive: ambition. Ambition. Leaders are very ambitious about their work and careers and have a desire to get ahead. To advance, leaders actively take steps to demonstrate their drive and determination. Ambition impels leaders to set hard, challenging goals for themselves and their organizations. Walt Disney, founder of Walt Disney