Characteristic, Personal Attributes, Styles and Qualities in Leadership Essay

Abstract: Leadership can be defined as the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of a vision or a set of goals. The theories can divide by 3 chronological in groups that deal with leadership. First were the trait theories. Until the 1940’s, research in the field of leadership was dominated by these theories. Second came from the behavioral theories which were very influent until the late 1960’s. Finally, contingency theories are the most modern theories about leadership.

Trait theories are theories that consider personal qualities and characteristics that differentiate leaders from non-leaders. ” Early results aimed at confirming this theory were inconclusive. Many research studies were conducted and each identified key traits supposed to differentiate leaders from non-leaders. The problem is that they didn’t get the same results, thus failing to discover common traits, which should have shown in each research study.

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When applying the Big Five Personality framework (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience) to the study and research of leadership traits, results were more encouraging. They showed that the most important trait for leaders was extraversion. Still, this founding should be mitigated. Extraversion seems to be a crucial trait in getting leaders into leadership positions or being recognized by others as being a leader but isn’t necessary related to effectiveness in the long run.

Another trait that was identified by recent studies is emotional intelligence. The point is that if a leader doesn’t have emotional intelligence all his other skills and qualities such as, competence, experience, excellent analytical skills, vision, etc. may fail to have a positive influence on the people he leads. Central to emotional intelligence is empathy and the caring part of empathy, especially for the people with whom you work, is what inspires people to stay with a leader when the going gets rough. The mere fact that someone cares is more often than not rewarded with loyalty. “

Instead of focusing on personality traits, behavioral theories focus on the behavior of effective leaders. This distinction is very important because if behavioral theories proved to be true they would mean that people can be trained to become better leaders, in contrast to the trait theories, which assumed that characteristics that made the difference between leaders and non-leaders were given to an individual and couldn’t be changed, thus leaving organizations with the recruiting process of selecting the right leader as the only tool towards effectiveness and little hope for any improvement.

The most famous behavioral theory was developed by the Ohio State University. It basically identifies two categories of behavior associated with effective leaders: initiating structure and consideration. Initiating structure refers to the extent to which a leader is likely to define and structure his or her role and those of employees in the search for goal attainment. ” Consideration is the extent to which a leader is likely to have job relationships characterized by mutual trust, respect for subordinates’ ideas, and regard for their feelings”.

We can note that the consideration dimension is similar to the empathy part of emotional intelligence discussed in the trait theory, thus suggesting it is an important factor since it is evidenced and common to both approaches to leadership. The second behavioral theory was developed by the University of Michigan. It also identified two dimensions in leadership behavior. Those dimensions are employee-oriented and production-oriented.

Employee-oriented leaders favor interpersonal relations, take personal interest in their employees’ needs and accept individual differences among members whereas production-oriented leaders focus and insist on the technical, operational and task aspect of the job. The findings of the University of Michigan’s research show that employee-oriented leaders were associated with higher group productivity and higher job satisfaction (whereas) production-oriented leaders tended to be associated with low group productivity and lower job satisfaction. Once again we have a dimension (employee-oriented) which is very similar to the emotional intelligence factor of trait theories and the consideration factor of the Ohio State University’s behavioral theory. Although no formal connection has been demonstrated so far, it’s worth bearing in mind that these elements are consistent with three major theories in the subject of leadership. Hersey and Blanchard’s in Situational Theory (SLT), the SLT is quite intuitive. Maybe that’s why it is so popular in organizations nowadays. It basically states that a leader should adapt to his employees’ degree of willingness and ability to perform a task.

For example, if an employee is both unwilling and unable, the leader needs to provide him with directions that are both clear and specific. If the employee is able but unwilling, “the leader needs to use a supportive and participative style. ” Etc. Introduction: In this articles review, I am going to look at the characteristics of leaders. What qualities they all share, their personal attributes and the different styles they adopt. Look at the theories by Tannenbaum & Schmidt, Douglas McGregor & Kerr & Schriesheim. Also what challenges they may face and looking at focusing on leadership. Body of text:

Characteristics/attributes: Ability to make decisionsWillingness to lead IntegrityEnthusiasm ImaginationWillingness to work hard Ability to analyses people, data & situationsAbility to understand people Be able to deal with difficultAbility to spot opportunities situations On top of the above, all leaders should be able to plan, initiate, control, support, inform and evaluate within they working lives. Leadership styles: Leadership styles cannot be fully explained by behavioral models. The situation in which the group is operating also determines the style of the leadership, which is adopted.

Several models exists which attempt to understand the relationship between style & situation, four from the module are described here. According to Tannenbaum & Schmidt (1958) believes in the autocratic and democratic model where leaders are somewhere in between using their authority to get the job done or to allow freedom within the team. Douglas McGregor (1960) believed in the X & Y theories. His model is based on the belief that workers are generally lazy and without a push to achieve they will become disinterested.

Theory Y on the other hand believes that workers are keen to do well so are interested in what they do. Kerr & Schriesheim (1974) The Ohio State Leadership Model, which uses the ideas of leaders, which: 1. Initiate structure 2. Show consideration Just by looking at these four theories, you can see that a pattern is emerging. They seem to be either democratic where the leader believes in allowing freedom to their workers, or autocratic where the leader believes that a tight rein on what goes on with their workers is best. How about with the leadership attitudes?

These appear to be broken into two sections, either Task oriented or People oriented. Once again these are following the same two routes of either democratic or autocratic. Broken down, they are: Leadership attitudes: Task oriented leaders, who are most interested in training, instructing behavior, performance and winning. Where as a people oriented, leaders are more interested in the interpersonal relationships within the team. (Adair 1984) Based on these two styles, Blake & Mouton developed the Management grid, which classifies leadership styles into: 1.

Country club 2. Team 3. Middle of the Road 4. Impoverished 5. Authority/Obedience 1. Country Club This person uses reward power to maintain discipline and to encourage the team to accomplish its goals. 2. Team This type of person leads by positive example and endeavors to foster a team environment in which all team members can reach their highest potential, both with team members and as people. They encourage the team to reach team goals as effectively as possible while working tirelessly to strengthen bonds among various members. 3. Middle of the Road

This type of person is able to balance the importance of getting the job done in the correct manner while taking into consideration the needs of the team. 4. Impoverished This leader uses “delegate or disappear” management style. They are not really committed to either the task accomplishment or maintenance. They allow their team to do whatever they wish & prefer to detach them from the team process. 5. Authoritarian These leaders are very much task oriented & are hard on their workers. There is little of no allowance for co-operation or collaboration.

They are very strong on deadlines and expect their workers to do whatever they are told without question. When something goes wrong, they tend to focus on who is to blame rather than concentrate on what went wrong and how they can prevent it from happening again. This in turn makes it very difficult for the workers to contribute or develop. (Anon 2005) All these styles have a place in leadership but it is only by studying the situation and the forces affecting it, that you will know which style to choose. Situational Leadership:

Situational leadership operates by using one of four approaches, which was developed by Paul Hersey & Kenneth Blanchard (1988). 1. High task & low relationships is where the leader needs to define the roles & direct the team or individual to get the task done. Communication is largely one-way. 2. High relationship & low task is where the leader needs to support the team after a group decision has been made on how the job is to be completed. Control is with the team. 3. High task & high relationship is where the leader still defines the roles but seek ideas from the team.

Decisions remain the leaders domain but the communication is more two way. 4. Low task & low relationship is where the leader is still involved in decisions and problem solving but the control is with the team. The team decides when & how the leader is involved. As shown by this panel (Blanchard K. et al 1986) i. Supporting ii. Praise, listen & facilitate iii. Coaching iv. Direct & support v. Delegating vi. Turn over responsibility for day to day decision vii. Making viii. Directing ix. Structure, control & supervise So a suitable mix of supportive & directive behavior defines the four styles.

Which one is most important during a period of change when the team could be feeling negative? Leadership Challenges: Leadership can come under challenges & one of the toughest is change & having to lead their team through that process. Change can be anything from re-structuring, re-location to the introduction of new equipment & processes to new policies. Resistance to change is an understandable reaction & recognizing resistance gives the leader the opportunity to do something about it. (Antonakis J. 2004) Typically the superficial reasons given for resistance are not the “real” deep-seated concerns.

Leaders need to take time to understand & then address the underlying fears. Once the real concern is understood, the leader can consider what points to emphasize to address it changing minds. (Anon 2005) The team will need Information, guidance & support while the leader is trying to drive the change through. Allow your team to have their say, listen and acknowledge their concerns. Be honest; let them know the bad as well as the good news. Keep your cool and keep promises and be enthusiastic about the planned changes, be positive. The leader needs to find equilibrium.

In the module, it breaks it down to 5 key points: Supportive Honest Informative No-nonsense Enthusiastic The leader needs to find equilibrium & some kind of focus. Focusing your leadership: 1. Heroic Leaders Ordinary people, like Nelson Mandela, who have overcome hardship & difficulties through patience and persistence, they set examples to others. They have a belief and demonstrate day after day determination to succeed. No matter what set backs they have to face, they pick themselves up and dust themselves down. They believe in a cause-man of the people. 2. Obsessive leaders

Driven by their own passion and conviction and have great believe in their own ability. They carry others with them because of their dedication to a plan. Bill Gates is a prime example. They have a vision & are prepared to continually work at it until their dram comes true. They get people to buy into their vision & what is to be achieved through commitment. Everybody knows what is expected of them and they are given guidelines, which are expected to be followed. 3. Flawed Leaders Despite their failings, they have charisma & courage to admit their mistakes & ask for and received forgiveness.

Just like Bill Clinton. (Anon 2006) Conclusion: In this articles review, I have looked at some of the elements of leadership. I have studied theories that have defined traits & behaviors, which seem to have a view that leaders need to: a. Gain respect by being trusted (Ernst & Young 1992). b. Be professional, be loyal to the organization, perform selfless service and take professional responsibility. c. Process good character traits. Examples: Honesty, competence, commitment, integrity, courage, straightforwardness and imagination. d.

Know yourself, example: strengths & weaknesses of your character with knowledge and skills. e. Know human nature, examples: Human needs, emotions and how people respond to stress. f. Know your job, example; be proficient and be able to train others in their tasks. g. Know your organization, example: where to go for help, its climate & culture, who the unofficial leaders are? h. Provide direction, for example; goal setting, problem solving, decision-making & planning. i. Do implement, example: communicating, coordinating, supervising & evaluating. j.

Motivate, example: develop moral & spirit in the organization, train, coach & counsel. All leaders share a common factor in achieving deadlines and targets but depending on their character, personality & situation denotes how they would go about it. Good leaders are able to adopt differing leadership styles with different people, or with the same people but at different times. They have a goal, a vision that they direct their team to achieve through good communication. They empower others so to build confidence and recognize good or improved performances. They need to be a role model.


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