The Social And Psychological Factors Of Leadership Essay

The Social And Psychological Factors Of Leadership Essay

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Leadership is seen in all walks of life and so there are many social and psychological factors that people have theorised can make a great leader. ‘Effective leadership’ is therefore difficult to define as there are so many standpoints that one could take. Taking the perspective of a social psychologist, Chemers stated that leadership is “a process of social influence through which an individual enlists and mobilises the aid of others in the attainment of a collective goal” (2001, as cited in Hogg and Vaughan, 2014) and so it would be fair to assume that a good leader can be seen through the success of the rest of the group. In light of this, effective leadership must be looked at in terms of personality, relationships with the rest of the group, leadership style and the situation that the leader is working in.

Van Vugt, Hogan and Kaiser (2008) believed that evolution plays a hugely important role in leadership. According to Darwin (1871, as cited in Van Vugt, Hogan and Kaiser, 2008), humans have evolved throughout time to live in groups as it originally allowed them to cope in areas not yet urbanised enough for humans have the luxury of being solitary. By sharing their resources, they were able to protect themselves against threats like animals and bad weather conditions (Kendrick, Li & Butner, 2003). In order for this way of living to be successful there needed to be some form of social hierarchy (so that certain people would have certain roles and parts to play within the community) and by extension one member of the community would have to be an effective leader to take control. From an evolutionary point of view, effective leadership is necessary for human survival as a well-organised community has a higher chance of surviva...


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... had an overall correlation of 0.58 when compared with effective leadership, with the best predictors being extraversion, openness to new experienced and contentiousness (as cited in Hogg and Vaughan 2016).

A strong case can also be made for the idea that what may be a great leader in one culture or period in time, may not be a great leader in another. Possibly the best example of this can be seen in Winston Churchill who was praised as being a great Prime Minister in the Second World War due to his military background but as soon as the war was over he was quickly replaced by Clement Attlee. Erikson (1964, as cited in Winter 1987) offered a theory based on this by suggesting that there was a relation between the characteristics of the leader and the characteristics of the follower. This is complimented by the deception study carried out by Carter and Nixon (1949).

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