Leadership: Style Vs. Traits

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Leadership: Style vs. Traits The pursuit to find what makes a leader great has always been a subject of debate amongst many of the greatest minds for centuries. Some believe leaders are born with the “right stuff”. Their natural abilities are leadership qualities that cannot be taught. Other believe that through education and guidance, leaders can be developed. Many think that situations will dictate leadership capabilities; a leader will rise to the occasion when it is right. There are groups that think it’s a combination of things; personality, culture, values, behaviors and situations that determine a leader and their personal leadership style. Can behavior and personality traits determine a leadership style? Do characteristics play…show more content…
Many people have developed views and theories on the different types of leadership styles. Air Force leadership courses teaches their developing leaders that there are two types of leadership styles. “Production-oriented leadership which focuses on initiating structures and paths for followers to perform effectively and people- or relationship-oriented leadership which considers fostering good relationships between the leader and followers” (Noncommissioned Officer Academy Distance Learning Course, 2015, pg. 194). Kurt Lewin developed his theory that there are three main styles of leadership: autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire (Mindtools, n.d.). An autocratic leader makes decisions without consulting members of the team. Democratic leaders include members during the decision making process, but the leader ultimately makes the final decision. Laissez-faire leaders have a “hands off” approach and the team makes the decisions in all matters. According to Bass &Steidlmeier (1999), “There are clearly many styles of leadership that relate to the legitimacy of authority and informed consent by followers. Two distinct but interrelated ideal types are transformational and transactional leadership” (para 7). Often thought of as the most effective style of leadership is transformational; motivating others, sharing common goals and visions with the team. Transactional leadership relies on the…show more content…
Regarding leadership, traits represent characteristics such as self-confidence, ambition and high energy, commonly found among leaders representing a wide variety of leadership styles. According to Kirkpatrick & Locke (1991), “evidence shows that traits do matter; six traits on which leaders differ from nonleaders include drive, the desire to lead, honesty/integrity, self-confidence, cognitive ability and knowledge of the business” (para7). It is important to note that traits alone are not what make a great leader; it’s defined as a “precondition” of individuals that have potential to become a great leader (Pierce & Newstrom, 2011). Military leaders tend to not have traits similar to other types of leaders. What if individuals do not possess or display high levels of positive characters, such as described by Kirkpatrick & Locke? Could it affect their leadership style and ultimately affect the team
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