It is a traditional approach to the theory of leadership. According to this theory, it is though that a leader has specific trait of mind and intelligence. These special qualities of head and heart generally include mental capacities and morale qualities. The trait theory holds the view that successful leader possess these basic qualities and these are inherited rather than acquired, Out of this approach, came the popular belief that "Leaders are Born and not Made."
Stogdill's Trait Factors
In the late 1940s, Ralph Stogdill reported on the basis of at least fifteen studies that leaders possess intelligence, scholarship, dependability in exercising responsibilities, activity and social participation and socio-economic status. He also found traits such as sociability, persistence, initiative, knowing how to get things done, self-confidence, alertness, insight, cooperativeness, popularity, adaptability and verbal facility in ten leadership ;studies. Persons who are leaders are presumed to display better judgment and engage themselves in social activities. They study of the lives of successful leaders reveals that they possessed many of these traits.
Some of the important traits of an effective leader are discussed below:
1) Intelligence: This trait seems to hold up better than any other. Leaders generally have some what higher level of intelligence than the average of their followers. They possess the ability to think scientifically, analyze accurately and interpret clearly and precisely the problems before them in terms of different aspects and perspectives.
2) Physical features: Physical characteristics and level of maturity determine personality of an individual, which is an important factor in determining success of leadership. Height, weight, physique, health and appearance of an individual are important for leadership to some extent.
3) Inner motivation drive: Leaders have relatively intense achievement type motivational drives. They have the inner urge to keep accomplishing something. To initiate suitable activities at proper time is the habit of a leader. He works hard more for the satisfaction of inner drives than for extrinsic material rewards.
4) Maturity: Leaders generally have broad interests and activities. They are emotionally mature and have balanced temperaments avoiding menacing extremes so that they may not become thoughtless victims of the circumstances. They also have high frustration tolerance.
5) Vision and foresight: A leader cannot maintain his influence unless he exhibits his trait of looking forward well in advice and imagination for handling his followers. Sol he sould imaginatively visualize tends and devise his polices and programmes with foresight based on logical programmes.
6) Acceptance of Responsibility: A reliable leader is one who is prepared to shoulder the responsibility for the consequences of any steps he contemplates or takes. He is always aware of the duties and obligations associated with the position he holds.
7) Open-mind and Adaptability: A leader is ready to absorb and adopt new ideas and views of others as may be demanded by the situation. He is not critical of others., He is prepared to accommodate others viewpoints and modify his decision, if need be, Flexibility is another name for open-mindedness, which makes the leader more identified with the group.
8) Self-confidence: A good leader has conceptual clarity about the things he is going to do. He has confidence in himself whenever he initiates any course of action. Self-confidence is essential to motivate the followers and boost up their morale.
9) Human relations attitude: A good leader is considerate of the followers as his success as a leader largely depends on the cooperation of the people. Thus, a successful leader possesses the human relations attitude. He always tries to develop social understanding with other people. He approaches various problems in terms of people involved more than in terms of technical aspects involved. He inks constantly busy in achieving the voluntary cooperation of the followers.
10) Fairness of Objectivity: A good leader is fair and objective in dealing with subordinates. He must be free from bias and prejudice while becoming emotionally involved with the followers. Honesty, airplay, justice and integrity of character are expected of any good leader.
Ghiselli's Personal Traits
Edwin Ghiselli has conducted extensive research on the relationship between personality and motivational traits and leadership effectiveness. His findings suggest that the following personality traits range from being very important to unimportant in relating to leadership success:
1) Very Important
ii) Intellectual capacity
iii) Job achievement orientation.
iv) Self-actualization feelings.
vi) Management ability-team builder
2) Moderately important.
i) Affinity for working class.
ii) Drive and initiative.
iii) Need for a lot of money.
iv) Need for job security
v) Personal maturity
3) Almost no importance.
i) Masculinity versus femininity,.
Again, the problem with Giselle's research is that severally of the traits are interdependent and there is no indication of how much of any trait a person should have to be an effective leader.