The Trait View of Leadership, Does it Hold Water?

The modern Trait Leadership school of thought is based on a descriptive personality of individual characteristic of leadership qualities, and personality traits common to individuals, common people across socio –economic groups. Allport (1937a) work on trait theories included culture as a factor in development of personality and character; however, it appears he didn’t see this originally as a major determinant of traits. Galton leadership work as (cited in Piekkola, 2011b) saw people were different based on their temperament different characteristics, and people respond in different ways, and a name was given to temperamental differences by Galton (1884) as “lexical hypothesis” or the proposition that important differences between people will be signified in the languages of the world. (para. 2). Allport, G. and Odbert (1936b) research (as cited in Piekkola, 2011c) compiled their research findings into the book, Trait names: A psycholexical study. Psychological Monographs, 47(1, Whole No. 211) “compiled a list of personality trait names from Webster’s unabridged New International Dictionary.” (para. 3) Allport (1936c). Piekolla (2011d) research identified the reasoning for Allport’s work being an attempt to tie in mental models and functions. The research findings started a dialogue about the differences between the realists and nominalists schools of thought. The researchers were seeking to find out the universality of individual traits existing at the time; if they were real; or whether the lexicons used to describe the traits were name attached to the traits as labels, to give them something to hold identify people within groups or across groups. — Hergenhahn, 2009).” (para. 4) Piekkola (2011d) writings on trait theory stated the following about how Allport (1937d) saw the essence of trait theory from these cognitive lenses. G. W. Allport (1937, 1961e), Although individuals share common social traits based on social experiences; however, within the social experience, (as with common traits), people individual traits are because of their own experiences. (para. 5). According to Piekkola (2011e) research he cited; Allport (1937, 1961f) people have common traits across the board; however, there are specific traits that are displayed by the individual that are still specific to the common trait in people. Allport, G. W., & Schanck, R. L. (1935g). Are attitudes biological or cultural in origin? Character and Personality, 4, 195– 205. As Allport (1961h) conceived of them, common traits are traits that are shared to different degrees by many people and reflect “those aspects of personality in respect to which most people within a given culture can profitably compared ( G. W. Allport, 1961, p. 340, emphasis in the original i). (para. 6). At the cornerstone of Allport works regarding trait theory, are four central traits forming the roles of trait theory model in leadership and leadership literature. Piekolla (2011f) G. W. Allport (1937), had developed a way to distinguish the different traits from the general to the specific, or as Piekolla (2011g) most general to least general (cardinal, central, and secondary traits). The traits vary in the way they are exhibited with each person. Piekolla (2011h) pugnacious for example, may be cardinal, central, secondary, or nonexistent, depending on the individual. Piekolla ((2011i). McCrae and Costa (2008,) scholarly works examined what appeared to be limitation in Allport’s work regarding cultural differences in the formation of character and personality. In addition the work of McCrae and Coasta (2009,) examined the chemistry and personality in this area. Doyle (2001) explored in his research, (Bennis 1998: 3) view on trait theory as follows: “Leaders are people, who are able to express themselves fully, says Warren Bennis. (Bennis 1998: 3). Doyle (2001) furthers approaches the subject matter as follows: Surveys of early trait research by Stogdill (1948) and Mann (1959) reported that many studies identified personality characteristics that appear to differentiate leaders from followers. Doyle (2001) stated; however, as Peter Wright (1996: 34) has commented, ‘others found no differences between leaders and followers with respect to these characteristics, or even found people who possessed them were less likely to become leaders’. In the trait model the organized societal systems, the strongest and ablest hunter, warrior, and or survivor of the hunts, became suited for the world of the routine oriented societies of the past leadership models, preceding the trait model; however, the correlations fit well, where hierarchies as a mean of human social stratification, either resulted in the development of the individual, group, tribe or village state or their extermination. The classical paradigms in both form and structures, autocratic, trait theory, theory x leadership models, and of course, bureaucratic, and authoritarian models, all which can be assigned to the classical schools of leadership and leadership development can present a challenge for globalized leadership practices. (3) The Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership, model AA, is where the power is held in the hands of one person, tribe or group without any power or authority is decentralized. In the autocratic or authoritarian model power resides in the hands of the leader, in no uncertain terms. The AA model origins can be traced back to medieval times in history, in history, across cultures. (4) The Behavior model of leadership, study the behaviors of leaders. Doyle stated in (2001). The study of leadership moved from researching leaders to studying leadership. In the classical behavioral leadership perspective paradigm; as a method to determine the operational definition of behaviorist leadership styles, a study of psychology, social psychology, political science, Business -management, counseling, organizational development, organizational behavior and behavioral psychology. Out of this approach one can determine the efficacy of the behavioral model, and determine its central theoretical frameworks.

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