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Importance of Traits for Effective Leadership

Critically analyse the relationship between traits, motives and effectiveness of leaders.

Since ancient times, leadership has been one of the most influential topics of discussion in many nations. Countries elect and nominate leaders, by referring to certain aspects which are admirable and pleasing to the citizens. Authors have written many books regarding leadership. The aim of doing all this is to come up with good leaders who have the ability to lead and govern others. Leadership can be defined as the act of leading by following certain doctrines, on behalf of others. However, coming up with leaders is not easy. There are several things that are considered to identify good and effective leaders. Some of these are traits, effectiveness and the motives of such leaders. A details explanation of these three elements, their relationship, and theories involved in their study, is as epitomized below:

To start with, traits are very important as far as leadership is concerned. Traits are some specific characteristics, trends or habits that are bestowed on an individual. People act differently due to their different character traits. Trait leadership, on the other hand, can be defined as the kind of leadership which include integral patterns, which are based on individual characteristics that help to gauge how effective, leaders are. There are several trait theories that seek to explain the traits of leaders. According to (Clements, Kaklauskas, Hocoy, & Hoffman, 2016), the traits of leaders can be put into two major and broad categories. These are Demographic vs. interpersonal leadership vs. task competence, and distal vs. proximal. A deep explanation of these categories is as portrayed below.


Firstly, demographically, the topic of study, for long, has been based on gender. Gender equity and equality are very important traits of leadership. Male chauvinism has been most evident in many ancient governments and organization. However, according to the recent study carried out by (Fleeson & Jayawickreme, 2015), both the female and male gender portray the same traits of leadership and therefore, have been given equal chances of leadership in many organizations. Task competence, on the other hand, refers to the extent to which leaders can handle leadership tasks with wisdom and in the right manner. According to (Achua & Lussier, 2013), leaders who are task competent are; intelligent, open in their ways of expressing ideas, conscientious, and able to withstand and control their emotions. Lastly, on this category, interpersonal leadership is majorly based on the traits that make leaders sociable, and able to relate with others in the global society. Such traits are agreeableness, politeness, humility, extraversion, among many others.

Trait Theories: Demographic vs. Interpersonal Leadership vs. Task Competence, and Distal vs. Proximal Characteristics

Distal and proximal character traits also affect trait leadership. Proximal traits are those which are based on knowledge and skills, while distal are those which are based on individual differences such as energy, flexibility, dominance, honesty, among others. These also affect leadership.

Trait theory also includes much information and concepts of the Great Man’s theory (Arbak & Villeval, 2013). According to the Great Man’s theory, all leaders are usually born with the talent to lead. Some scholars criticize this theory by saying that it is gender biased, since, in one of its concepts, it states that, a leader should be from the male gender. According to trait theory, a trait is the one who has the following skills and characters, bestowed in him or her:


He or she should be success oriented and always aspiring to gain the better. A trait should also be able to adapt to different situations that may arise during his or her reign of leadership (Harris, Day, Hopkins, Hadfield, Hargreaves, & Chapman, 2013). Additionally, a trait should be able to cooperate and cope up with all members of that particular organization. This is a highly recommendable trait for any leader. Being active, and energetic, also helps to make sure that all activities run well in the public domain. For example, a leader who is active and energetic in a building and construction company is most likely to influence others to work more and inherit the same trait. A trait should also be a good decision maker. This helps to make that everyone in the organization is responsible and accountable. Good decisions of entrepreneurs also help to maximize profits as the inputs are minimized (Youngs & Cardno, 2016). When one has the traits above, he becomes fluent in speaking, creative, intelligent and also tactful.

Practically, those big companies, which employ skilled personnel, with the traits described above bestowed on them, accrue more profits. A good example is seen in the sales and marketing department whereby, those sales persons, fluent speakers, self-confident, polite and interactive, make more sales and bring success to their respective organization. Actually, what these trait theories explain can be seen practically.

Motives are also very important aspects of leadership. They are simply defined as the reason behind which people act or react in a certain manner that is different from their normal way of perceiving things (Guastello & Guastello, 2014). Motivational leadership, on the other hand, refers to the ability of a person to lead others while still encouraging them to aspire to strive for some specific long or short term goals.

Motives and Motivational Leadership: Power Motive, Drive and Achievement, Strong Work Ethics, Tenacity

Leaders have motives which act as an inner force to push them towards some certain aspects. Winston Churchill was one of the great motivational leaders who proposed some major motives which leaders strive for, in leadership (Northouse, 2015). He groups the motives into several major categories which are explained in detail below.

One of these motives is the power motive. Here, the leaders have a strong desire to get leadership for them to control major resources of a particular nation or organization. They may, therefore, tens to spend much time thinking on how to divert the psychological reasoning of the target people, for their own benefit. Such leaders tend to become dictatorial when their plans tend to fail (Lussier & Achua, 2015). For example, a manager may advise the owner of a company to sell most of its material wealth and store it in money (liquid) form, when he has an intention to benefit from the sales.


Secondly, he also deduced the motivation of drive and achievement. Here, leaders tend to invest more with an aim of attaining some specific, time bound and measurable goals (Van Wart, 2014). For example, a leader may invest too much, by saving a lot of money, when he or she intends to purchase a certain machine that they help to lessen human labor.

Thirdly, Winston also proposed the motive of strong work ethics. Here, the leaders strongly believe and value their work. They strongly abide by the set doctrines of the firm. Their ethics towards work are very strong and influential. Lastly, he also proposed the motive of tenacity. The major aim of such leaders is to overcome some obstacles that seem huge and difficult to overcome. They are persistence and determined in their leadership

Practically, a motivational leader incorporates many aspects to make sure that the workers work effectively and motivated. For example, a company may choose to increase the salary of their employees by a certain percentage, so as to motivate them to serve and give their best effort to the company. For one to become a motivational leader, he should motivate himself first. By so doing, others can imitate the leader. The following are some of the aspects that may help one to be a motivational leader.

A motivational leader should set up some goals (Antonakis & House, 2013). Employees in a certain organization are most likely to work hard when there are some realistic goals that they are working towards achieving them. It is therefore important for a motivational leader to set up goals. Secondly, such leaders should be responsible and willing to help and cooperate with the workers in an organization. Finally, a leader should be effective. An effective leader is the one who takes things with great passion and who aims at benefiting the whole society at large. He aims at changing the society to become a better place.

Practical Implications: Motivational Leaders


First of all, such a leader should be knowledgeable. If a leader is chosen to lead a certain organization, he or she should have knowledge of all territories of the organization. He should be well equipped with the macro and micro environments of the organization (Luria & Berson, 2013). General knowledge about the organization helps such a leader to have an imaginary picture of how to lead such an organization effectively.

Secondly, he should respond to the needs, ideas, and suggestions of the workers, citizens or employees, accordingly. When peoples' needs are catered for, a nation prospers. The same applies to the organization. Other qualities include; good communication, team building, risk taking, self-assessment among many others.

Conclusion

Conclusively, leadership is majorly based on the traits, motives, and effectiveness of the leaders in authority. If a leader follows all the aspects discussed above, he or she is likely to lead well and bring success to that particular organization. Every organization should aim at looking at the issues discussed above, to come up with a complete and competent and effective leader

References

Achua, C. F., & Lussier, R. (2013). Effective leadership. South-Western Cengage Learning.

Antonakis, J., & House, R. (2013). The full-range leadership theory: The way forward. In Transformational and Charismatic Leadership: The Road Ahead 10th Anniversary Edition. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Arbak, E., & Villeval, M. (2013). Voluntary leadership: motivation and influence. Social Choice and Welfare , 1-28.

Clements, C., Kaklauskas, F., Hocoy, D., & Hoffman, L. (2016). History, Development, and Contemporary Perspectives of Transpersonal Psychology. Shadows & Light (Volume 1: Principles & Practices): Theory, Research, & Practice in Transpersonal Psychology.

Fleeson, W., & Jayawickreme, E. (2015). Whole trait theory. Journal of Research in Personality. pp. 82-92.

Guastello, S., & Guastello, D. (2014). Personality trait theory and multitasking performance: Implications for ergonomic design. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science , 432-450.

Harris, A., Day, C., Hopkins, D., Hadfield, M., Hargreaves, A., & Chapman, C. (2013). Effective leadership for school improvement. Routledge.

Luria, G., & Berson, Y. (2013). How do leadership motives affect informal and formal leadership emergence? Journal of Organizational Behavior , 995-1015.

Lussier, R., & Achua, C. (2015). Leadership: Theory, application, & skill development. Nelson Education.

Northouse, P. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice. Sage publications.

Van Wart, M. (2014). Dynamics of leadership in public service: Theory and practice . Routledge.

Youngs, H., & Cardno, C. (2016). Features of effective leadership development provision for experienced New Zealand principals.

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