Executive have been adapted by many different theorists (see





















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What is Leadership?


There are many different components and key elements that make up
leadership as a whole. Below are just a few key approaches that help to shape


The Trait-Approach


The trait approach defined is the study that different personality
traits and characteristics are what determine certain people as ‘great leaders’.

This led into the ‘great-man’ theories initially developed by Thomas Carlyle in
the mid- 1800s. These focused upon major great leaders of its time e.g. Abraham
Lincoln and Joan of Arc and is still prominent within leaders today, such as, Steve




 Ralph Melvin Stogdill’s
studies suggest that leadership is the result of the interaction between the
individual and the social situation and not the result of a predefined set of


 Stodgill conducts
additional studies which find that both traits and situational variables
contribute to leadership.


 James M. Kouzes and
Barry Z Posner survey more than 1,500 managers and find that the top four
traits associated with good leadership are being honest, forward
looking, inspiring, and competent. Kouzes and
Posner refer to these four characteristics as “being credible.”

Important Research on Trait Theory of Leadership

Verywell. (2018). Do Great Leaders Share Certain
Traits? See What the Research Says. online Available at:
Accessed 23 Jan. 2018.





Major Leadership Traits

There have been many studies of
leadership traits and characteristics that have been adapted by many different
theorists (see below).


Taken from: Northouse,
P. (n.d.). Introduction to leadership. p.22.  SOURCES: Adapted from “The Bases of Social
Power,” by J. R. P. French, Jr., and B. Raven, 1962, in D. Cartwright
(Ed.), Group Dynamics: Research and Theory (pp. 259–269), New
York: Harper and Row; Zaccaro, Kemp, & Bader (2004).

“One of the concerns about such lists is that the attributes
typically associated with successful leaders are often perceived as “male”
traits. Reportedly, when men and women are asked about the other gender’s
characteristics and leadership qualities, significant patterns emerge, with
both men and women tending to see successful leaders as male,” suggested John
W. Fleenor in a 2006 article published in the Encyclopedia of
Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Whilst all of this suggests that
traits are an essential part to being a good leader, there is no research
suggesting every leader has the same traits meaning that having these traits
will not guarantee great leadership.


There are five-key leadership
traits that are still prominent today. These include:






From personal experience I know
that these traits are highly valued when leading a team of people. This was
demonstrated on an expedition to Peru I partook in and I had to showcase my
leadership skills, however I also believe that these are the types of traits
that can be developed and learned and are something you can acquire over time.


The Path-Goal Theory


To put it simply, the Path-goal theory is how leaders motivate followers
to accomplish designated goals (Northouse, 2016, pg 115).  The leader adapts to its follower’s dependent
on a style or behaviour that best fits the employee as well as the working
environment. The end goal being able to increase an employee’s satisfaction and
motivation so that they can be more productive members within the company.


This is an effective way of ensuring that employee needs are adhered, to
as well as ensuring that they’re happy in the workplace, thus making them more
motivated when working building a stronger team dynamic and achieving a higher
standard of ‘workmanship’.






Northouse, 2016, pg 116-117



The Behavioural Approach


The behavioural approach, first adapted by Stogdill (1948), is very
distinctive from the trait approach in the way that it focuses more on how a
leader displays themselves, through the way they act and what they do, whereas
the trait approach solely focuses on an individuals’ traits. Researchers
studying this believe that leadership is composed of two types of behaviours:
Task Behaviours and Relationship Behaviours. The two types differentiate with
one another due to these certain factors; The task behaviours enable goal
accomplishment, whereas Relationship Behaviours allow adherents to be
comfortable with themselves, other around them and different situations. The
main idea behind this approach is that leaders are able to combine the two in
order to influence adherents in their efforts to reach a goal.


Since this approach was first seen it has since been adapted by Blake
and Mouton in the early 1960’s, exploring how managers used task and
relationship behaviours whilst in a workplace. The approach was then placed
into ‘Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid’ which has since been named a
leadership grid as new research ideas have claimed it to be more of a
leadership style, rather than a managerial style.

SOURCE: Northouse, 2016, pg76



Leader or Developed?


Linking back to the trait theory, theorist Thomas
Carlyle strongly believed that having the ability to lead was a natural
instinct you were born with and simply could not develop. Carlyle was the
inspiration to many of the early researches conducted on leadership, which
solely focused on inheritable traits. These included:

traits produce certain patterns of behavior
patterns are consistent across different situations
are born with these leadership traits

“The trait
theory of leadership, generally considered the first modern theory of
leadership, became popular during the second half of the twentieth century and,
despite scholarly criticism, has continued to be popular,” explained authors
Shriberg and Shriberg in their 2011 text Practicing Leadership Principles
and Applications. “The theory states that certain innate traits are common
to leaders. Although the identified traits vary, the most common are
intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity, and sociability.”