Definition of Traits Theory of Leadership, Traits of Effective Leaders

Fri, 04/27/2012 - 09:52 -- Umar Farooq

Definition of Traits Theory of Leadership
Classical traits theory of leadership which owes its base to different traits in a human being. This theory believes that leadership behavior is sum of total of the traits or qualities the leaders possesses. A leader cannot behave other than what his personnel traits are. He may either inherently possess these traits or may have acquired through learning, training and experiences. But he himself is what his traits are and he therefore behaves within the limits of his traits.

Traits of Effective Leaders
Following are the traits of effective leaders

  1. Good Personality
  2. Tirelessness
  3. Ability of quick decision
  4. Courage
  5. Enthusiasm
  6. Intelligence
  7. Persuasive
  8. Reliability
  9. Imagination
  10. Physically fit
  11. Intellectually sound

The above traits have been grouped by psychologists into follower categories

  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Intellectual
  • Qualities pertaining to characters

It has been maintained by the traits that these traits can either be inherited nor can be developed with the help of training and experience or can both be inherited and acquired. Some of these traits cannot be wholly acquired through training and experience. Inheritance is a must. It has therefore, been widely accepted that the leadership traits can both be inherited and acquired. This is why it has been maintained that is not only born but also made.

Weaknesses of Trait Theory
The traits theory of leadership is widely accepted but it suffers from certain weaknesses. Following are the weaknesses of trait theory:

  1. Various thinkers have supplied different list of qualities of leadership. There is not one who listed them in order of their importance. The list sometimes confuses the students and practitioners alike. But this weakness does not take away the merits of theory. Agreed the traits have not agreed on a common list of leadership qualities. But one should not forget that management is a behavioral science and its changes with the dictate of time, situation and human behavior. Traits may be added and deleted as and when found necessary.
  2. Leadership traits are neither common in nature nor are universal.
  3. Traits cannot be acquired and developed. This approach really weakens the theory. But later pronouncements amply reveal that the traits too have accepted that leaders are not only born but they are made also. Hence they accept the theory that leadership qualities can be acquired and developed.
  4. Traits theory of leadership does not consider situational factors which influence the leader more than their own traits. In fact traits are helpful in facing the situation but traits cannot be wipe off the situation which may arise from time to time. Situation forces a decision. A leader possessing requisite traits of leadership may come out from all situations with flying colors.
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