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Theoretical Perspectives on Leadership: The Trait Approach Leadership • One psychological perspective on leadership "Leadership is just like psychic fraud... you're waiting for something lucky to happen you can take credit for" (Dilbert, 2002) Outline • The Trait Approach – Personality – Motives – Cognitive factors • Leadership Traits Activity Understanding Leadership: The Trait Approach • The “Great Man” theory: • The best leaders have particular qualities which make them inherently more fit to lead than other people. • Julius Caesar or Napolean would have been influential figures anywhere anytime • This view is represented in biographies, news reporting, history books • Common sense approach to leadership The Trait Approach • Most extreme form: – Leaders are born, not made. • Characteristics associated with leadership can be classified into three broad categories – Personality traits – Motives – Cognitive factors Personality Traits • P1) Self-confidence – The ability to be certain about one’s competencies and skills • P2) Integrity – The quality of honesty and trustworthiness. They inspire confidence because they can be trusted. Personality Traits • P3) Sociability – A leader’s inclination to seek out pleasant social relationships. Have good interpersonal skills and are cooperative. Leader Motives • M1) The power motive – Have a strong need to control resources • Can be used for the sake of the powerholder or for helping others 2 Types of Power Motives • Personalized power motive – Seek power mostly to further their own interests. • Socialized power motive – Use power primarily to achieve organizational goals or a vision. Power is used to help others. Leader Motives • M2) Drive and achievement motive – Putting forth high energy and persistence into achieving goals – Finding joy in accomplishments Leader Motives • M3) Strong work ethic – The belief in the dignity of work. They value hard work. • M4) Tenacity – Better at overcoming obstacles because of their tenacity. Cognitive Factors • C1) Intelligence • Intellectual ability strongly related to leadership • C2) Knowledge of the business or group task • Important for the leader to provide expertise in the field that will be a source of competitive advantage • C3) Creativity • Creative in finding original and imaginative solutions to complex problems. Cognitive Factors • C4) Insight into people and situations • A depth of understanding that requires intuition and common sense. • C5) Farsightedness and conceptual thinking • Need to develop visions and corporate strategies. • Need to see the overall perspective • C6) Openness to experience • Having a positive orientation towards learning Traits of a Leader Exercise 1 10 Traits: Trait not Trait strongly manifest manifest 1. Self-confidence 2. Integrity Using the 1-10 scale above, assess 3. Sociability the following three people on the traits listed to the right: 4. Power motives 5. Drive and achievement motives • 1) Colin Powell 6. Tenacity 7. Intelligence • 2) The leader you most admire 8. Knowledge of group task • 3) Yourself. Strengths and Limitations to the Trait Approach • Strengths • Intuitively appealing • A great deal of research • In-depth understanding of the leader • Provides a way to evaluate our own leadership attributes Strengths and Limitations to the Trait Approach • Limitations • Often based on leader’s own accounts • Measurement of traits is difficult • Comprehensive reviews fail to find a general set of traits • Overlooks the needs of the followers • Fails to clarify relative importance of traits • It ignores situational factors • Not amenable to training and development Empiricism Empirical vs non-empirical research Empirical: Empirical research is research which uses data derived from actual observation or experiment to reach conclusions. Original research papers that describe empirical studies and their results are published in academic journals. . Non-Empirical: A non-empirical approach to research makes no explicit or formal reference to data as such. This research results from thinking, reading and contemplation. Guidelines To determine if an article is an empirical research article, use these guidelines: What is the name of the journal? Popular magazines like Newsweek or Life Magazine don’t publish empirical research articles; publications like the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology or the Leadership Quarterly do. How long is the article? An empirical research article is usually substantial, not 1 or 2 pages. Does the article contain references to other works? Serious researchers always cite their sources. Does the abstract of the article contain variations of the words study, measure, subjects, data, survey, or statistical to describe the empirical research?
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