Leadership traits can be defined as the inbuilt patterns of individual characteristics that depict varying character differences and further reliability leader effectiveness across a range of organizational or groups situations. A successful leader is always associated with traits like integrity, commitments to growth, readiness to take risks, responsibility, pragmatism, and at the same time such person is vision oriented, self-assured, hardworking, emotionally intelligent, able to engage others in work, industrious, and optimistic.
The particular characteristics possessed by an individual are very important in determining what kind of a leader one can be. Personality and intelligence are some of the significance traits that one can have. The term personality implies the uniqueness of an individual that is responsible for the constant ways of thoughts, sensation and behavior. There are many different types of personalities most of which are not appropriate for a leader. A successful leader is identified with such certain traits as extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability, openness to new constancy, and conscientiousness.
The term extraversion refers to the characteristic of one, who has the associative traits of being talkative, self-assured, energetic, and always having the urge to appear on stage. A person with this kind of trait always tries to dominate over his or her fellows. Being agreeable has a meaning of being attentive to needs of others, considerate, pleasant, trusting, and appreciative. Extroverts have the ability to have more associates than introverts. Being highly agreeable makes one to have more friends as this creates a favorable environment for association. Emotional stability, the degree to which a person stays cool even under tight conditions and is able to handle tough situations, is necessary for success as a leader. A leader who is open to new changes and experiences is ready for success. This is due to the fact that he or she will be able bring innovation by proving to be insightful and providing the staff with imaginative ideas and wide areas of interest to work on. The personality, conscientiousness and diligence are also necessary. This implies one having the qualities to plan and achieve through being organized. This trait is very important as it carries the weight of other traits such as integrity, pragmatism, vision-orientation, responsibility, commitment to growth and enthusiasm.
The level of leader intelligence is an important factor in determining the kind of a leader one is. A high degree of intelligence is needed for one to become a successful leader. Super leaders are not born bright, but aim to become bright (Goleman, 1995). A leader should be able to determine the vision of a business, as he or she is the foundation of a viable business advantage. He or she should be able to read the moods of a business and determine what is best for the team. Helping the team to achieve their personal goals should be an aim, as it results into a highly competitive business. The most important kind of leadership intelligence for a successful leader is the emotional intelligence, which combines competencies. It describes the ability of a leader to be self-aware, have social skills like giving the attractive responses, be empathetic, motivate others, and lastly be able to self-manage oneself. Furthermore, successful leaders are willing to learn and take risks, as long as the final result is to favor the business.
There are various theories and studies that discuss leadership traits. Amongst them are the Trait theory, Behavioral theories, “The Great Man” theory, Situation theories, Contingency theories, Relationships theories, Management theories and Participation theories.
The Trait theory basically suggests that already at birth leaders have certain traits associated with proficient leadership. This implies that leadership traits are naturally part of someone from birth. This theory assumes that leaders are born and not made. It could be true for some leaders to have developed the leadership characteristics from their childhood, but it is still questionable. Some leaders realize their potentials when grown up. This theory identifies potential leaders.
The second theory is the Behavioral theory, which suggests that upcoming leaders can be trained by the leadership preparation competencies to become effective leaders. After the training, they can become the best ever leaders. It is based on the belief that leaders are made through training and exposure, and not born like that. It notes that the leadership capabilities can be arrived at by learning and not through inheritance. The theory is easy to develop and eases the assessment of leader’s actions and success. While the Trait theory advocates for potential leaders, this theory advocates for the behaviors that lead to a successful leader.
Theory X and Y is a Trait theory proposed by Douglas McGregor in 1960. This theory compares two groups of individuals. X is viewed as an individual who dislikes to work and works on subjection to strict conditions, always wants to be directed, dislikes responsibilities, and has a feeling of safety at work. Y has the qualities that are contrary to those of X, which are needed for successful leadership. X is attributed to hard and low level work, while Y is attributed to solving complex tasks and high ranks. This theory tends to prove that leadership is an innate predisposition that one has.
Basing on the Contingency theories, we propose Exposure Theory. In this theory, we suggest that great leaders are produced as a result of exposing oneself to an environment with the required leadership. Those individuals who are born in families of high profile leaders and those who naturally associate with proficient leaders make good leaders by learning to emulate their style. The unexposed ones remain to be wishers of leadership, but have no way of acquiring the traits due to the fact that they cannot learn them. Some individuals have the ability to be good leaders but lack the possibilities to learn. The good leaders excel in education and exposure to the environments.
Leadership is what you make it. One who aspires to be a leader and works towards achieving this goal is more likely to be one. Becoming a successful leader means having the necessary characteristic traits, such as intelligence, personalities and other quality leadership skills.