This leader must have subordinates who are trustworthy and the leader must be able to discern when it is appropriate to use this style. The most effective leader knows how to use a little bit of each style, and conversely the poor leader will stick to only one style despite the situation.
A study by Hautala in 2006 investigated the association between personality and leadership style5. In this study, a quantitative analysis of appraisals was taken from leaders and their subordinates. Leaders were asked to rate their effectiveness in their positions, and subordinates were ask to review leader effectiveness as well as personality traits. This study indicated a relationship between personality and leadership exists. According to leaders' self-ratings, those who were extraverted, perceiving and intuitive were more likely to favor the transformational leadership style. Subordinates noted a relationship between sensitivity, openness and an effective form of leadership.
Kuhn's6 study on the relationship between leadership personality traits and employee satisfaction showed that employee satisfaction is positively related to rating of leader effectiveness. There was also evidence of a negative relationship between the difference between preferred and actual leadership and ratings of employee satisfaction and ratings of leader effectiveness. This data is of significance to leaders who believe that it is possible to adjust a leadership approach to meet employee needs.
A third study 7 reviewed the effect of leader personality of project completion as well as performance. It was hypothesized that a leader with an open and outgoing personality would have greater emphasis on teamwork, especially when work stress and job uncertainly was high. It was shown in this study that the extraverted leader has a stronger influence when job uncertainty was low. In this study, extraversion appeared to have a significant effect on project management, substantiating the hypothesis. But it also appeared that in the case where concern regarding job retention was high, the extraverted personality could be counterproductive.
Many studies support the relationship between personality and leadership qualities. A study from West Point8 on the development of effective leaders reviewed cognitive and personality variables over a four-year period. Both cognitive and personality factors appeared to contribute to later performance as a leader. An agreeable and conscientious outgoing personality was felt to be most likely associated with future success as a leader. This would support the hypothesis that an outgoing and extraverted personality and leadership skills are related. A study by Cable et al9 reviewed personality characteristics of managers in different organizations. The study showed that mangers that scored high marks on extraversion were more likely to use inspirational appeal and ingratiation. These studies support the primary hypothesis of this paper.
A study from Australia10 demonstrated a relationship between a five factor model of personality traits and leadership effectiveness. Via annual leadership effectiveness evaluations, individuals rated their superior officers. Effectiveness as supervisor was identified by officers who had been selected for attendance at a high level prestigious service school.
The study showed that high degrees of conscientiousness and low extraversion scores predicted high leadership effectiveness. This was in opposition to the hypothesis which had predicted that high extraversion and low neuroticism would be more likely to demonstrate high ratings as leaders, and in opposition to our hypothesis that extraverted personalities make better leaders.
Having an extraverted personality does not guarantee one will be a good leader. External elements like maturity, experience and management style would all be variables which could affect the leader, no matter what the personality. In some cases, the extraverted personality may not be appropriate for the leadership situation. Alternatively, the tone of the organization may be one that works better with a more introverted or sedate type. The mix of subordinates will also determine how well the leader does, or how he or she is perceived. If individuals are quiet, or have been used to working with someone who is more introverted, then the extraverted personality may not be the best candidate for that post.
One school of thought does not support the importance of personality type in the selection of an effective leader. Whereas this paper places strong emphasis on adaptability, mission focus or leadership competencies like vision and values, there may exist in some leaders all the elements we have deemed so essential and yet results are still lacking. Results-based leadership connects organizational and leadership issues to outcomes assessment. Believers feel that leaders who are primarily outcome oriented are more focused on the end product. Employees will be comfortable following such a leader since the employee will have a strong idea of what is expected, what is the goal and how they will get there. Such a result-based leadership concept would make performance measurement for all individuals easier and allows "calibration" of teams to fine tune employee roles. This would be an effective tool for the motivation of employees, but could also lead to higher stress on personnel who may have fear for their continued employment in a setting where personal issues are not a part of the equation. It is probably a more effective tool to find a balance between outcomes-based leadership and emphasis on leadership attributes.
While some studies find extraversion beneficial for a leader; others (like the Australian study) find the opposite is true. Popular theories of leadership indicate that a good leader is able to adapt leadership style based upon what is best for the person, team or organization he or she works for. Individuals must find their own strengths and weaknesses and be able to focus on situational needs. Of course, most people are not able to significantly change innate personality traits. Most people would not even want to, unless the personality traits are maladaptive. But an effective leader will be able to take an approach to his or her team which will allow adaptation while still meeting personal needs.
The question remains as to whether any kind of personality is more effective for leadership. We have identified that an extraverted personality is as well suited to effective leadership as some other personalities, but we have also demonstrated that leadership excellence is based on so many different issues that it is difficult to hone the subject down to just one. Some people are born with personalities that would make them great leaders. They are energetic, intelligent and dedicated, but it appears from the research this is not enough alone to make a capable leader. We do not know for sure if leadership is innate or learned, yet we know that one can learn leadership skills. What we don't know is if learned leadership can be mastered. It would appear from the research that in some cases, an extraverted personality can actually be effective in leadership but counterproductive in cases where job stress or job security is a concern. This would make our hypothesis incorrect. Future areas for study would include which types of personality are appropriate for different work situations.
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