Trait Approach to Studying Leadership

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Trait Approach to Studying Leadership
Angela Pierce
LDR/531 – Organizational Leadership

Trait Approach to Studying Leadership
The trait approach was one of the earliest approaches that people have used for studying leadership. “Underlying this approach was the assumption that some people are natural leaders, endowed with certain traits not possessed by other people”(Yuki, p. 13, 2010). During this early period leadership theories suggested that managerial successes could be attributed to the natural extraordinary abilities that people possessed such as tireless energy, penetrating intuition, uncanny foresight, and irresistible persuasive powers. This process is what was used in identifying what/who makes a great leader. It was also assumed during this study that some people just were born with leadership traits, while others were not and for those who did not possess these identifiable traits were designated simply as followers.

Trait Approach Weaknesses
The weakness of this trait approach is that out of hundreds of trait studies conducted and despite this the massive research failed to find any traits that would guarantee leadership success (Yuki, p. 13, 2010). “One reason for the failure was a lack of attention to intervening variables in the causal chain that could explain how traits could affect a delayed outcome such as group performance or leader advancement. The predominant research method was to look for a significant correlation between individual leader attributes and a criterion of leader success, without examining any explanatory processes” (Yuki, p. 13, 2010). Another weakness is that this approach solely focuses on leaders and ignores the needs of the followers as well as not taking into account situational dynamics according to Travis, E. of ehow.com. The last weakness Travis points out is that some sometimes traits that were identified as…...

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