Trait Theories: Personality traits of a leader


Those who follow trait theories believe that all effective leaders have common personality traits, many of which are inbuilt, suggesting leaders are born, not created. It leans towards historic perspectives that Kings and Queens were appointed by God, and therefore it was their destiny. So in this school of thought, your either a leader or you are not, and never will be.

Thankfully, we now know that personality is just one aspect of what makes a person whole, and we talk more about leadership skills and qualities which everyone can develop.

However, research has helped us identify the common traits and qualities that are shared by great leaders, with the understanding that one can continually develop and grow.

Common traits include: 

  • Integrity
  • Charisma
  • Empathy
  • Decision-making
  • Assertiveness 
  • Visioning 
  • Optimism


However, even if someone scored 10/10 on all of the leadership traits, it doesn't mean that they will be, or even want to be a leader.

What is lacking in trait theory is a purpose, a cause or a direction. Leaders take a stand for something and lead others to achieve their goals. 

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