Personality Factors Research Paper

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leadership coach begins each public presentation making it very clear that having a leadership position and being a leader are not the same thing. Leadership and management are quite different even though often used synonymously. A "position" is something one is hired into, or appointed -- whether that results in leadership is dependent on the qualities of the individual. Some leaders rise from relative obscurity, and lead from below; some managers never learn to lead (Ventura, 2008).

Almost all the literature reviewed, though, seem to see the leader as being one who can see a situation and assume the right style of leadership for that occasion (e.g. Harry Truman taking over after Franklin Roosevelt's death). Certainly, once there is a leadership role assumed, the dynamics of interpersonal relationships change -- as they should. It is impossible for a leader to be completely fair and unbiased if that leader openly socializes with one or two employees. A leader loses a certain type of trust, but gains another -- for example, an employee will no longer be as willing to harangue the CEO in front of you for a decision of which they disagree; but will trust you more in providing needed resources for a project, or a fair ear when something is not going to plan. Too, it is difficult to move into a leadership role and rely on others for results instead of taking charge and getting them done on your own (Heyi, Na, & Dan, 2007).

One must ask, though, what are the traits of a leader that engender leadership success. There is certainly scholarly evidence that there are personality traits in leaders that tend to be slightly more attuned than in non-leaders, which tends to focus on the "Great Man" theory of leadership as a model. This view holds that leaders tend to be born, not made -- that there is some sort of genetic predisposition about leadership that brings certain individuals to the forefront of their profession or their place in life that transcends even their own expertise. This view was quite poplar in the 19th century when historians attempted to explain how certain personalities tended to shape history and took on some Darwinian characteristics once his theories were published. In the 20th century. This trait theory was further popularized by Thomas Carlyle, who used what he called "social profiling" to identify characteristics, talents, and skills of what he believed were inherent in leaders (Carlyle & Tenneyson, 2000). This definition says that individuals with certain personalities and skills sets, with the proper stimulation, amplify leadership traits. However, this idea of leaders being some larger than life social force fell out of favor as sociologists moved towards looking at leadership as a set of circumstances that were genetic, environmental, and circumstantial in bearing (Grinin, 2010). Taken in context then, this theory may be far too simplistic to explain the very complex nature of personality and leadership traits: "In fact, leadership is highly situational and contextual. A special chemistry develops between leaders and followers and it is usually context specific" (Wren, 1995, 30).

Because there are no strict definitions for leadership, but rather a series, as we have noted, of traits, attributes, and behaviors, possibly the most inclusive way to describe leadership is "ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen" (Kouzes, 2007). A functional model of leadership holds that the leader's primary function in organizations is to embody the vision of what is necessary to make a group cohesive and drive an organization forward. Scholars tend to see this paradigm of leadership in five overt skill sets that leaders show: 1) constant monitoring of the group or environment without appearing to be micromanaging, 2) organizing subordinate activities, 3) continual coaching of subordinates, 4) acting primarily as a motivator, and 5) intervening actively in the group's work (Hackman, 2002). This type of situational leadership might lend itself well, for instance, to the conductor of a professional orchestra -- professionals who need to congregate together to act as one voice rather than a series of individual instruments; skilled enough so they need coaching but not remedial training, and finding in their leader a seminal voice and focus with which to move beyond the ordinary (Northouse, 2006).

The transformational personality type takes vision and moves it through a process from the strategic to the tactical. The leader supplies the charisma and the strategy, then management the tactical. Many transformational leaders are actually teachers, mentors, or coaches -- using their skills to influence rather than dictate. The actual locus for this type of leadership model lies in communication -- ways the organization can reach beyond what is current and into the future of possibilities and potentials. In their constant search for efficacy, this type of leader continually stimulates and lives for response. This type of leader also tends to work well in crisis or other high-stress situations in which they can be continually in the spotlight and continue to engender new and even tougher challenges (Yukl, 2006).

What is clear is that effective leaders must be driven to succeed and want to lead others. Leaders tend to be achievement oriented -- with such traits described as energetic, tenacious and proactive. These traits, however, are also seen in successful managers who sometimes forget that too much of these traits negate the leadership role and use of human resources to accomplish a task. In fact, leadership motivation studies show that the pinnacle of leadership is the desire to lead -- less so to manage. While these may seem similar in construct, they are not. There is a willingness and even eagerness to assume responsibility and feel comfortable accepting such. For example, in the four decades of NASA astronauts, there have been countless exceptional individuals -- they had to be exceptional to make it through the rigorous training program and selection. However, out of all the astronauts in the 40-year program, only a few, John Glenn and Frank Borman, for example, built hugely successful political or business careers after leaving NASA. Was this a result of their personality? Their training? The lessons they learned in their careers? Or, is it more likely that there was a combination of traits and events that led to their ability and drive for success and leadership? (John Glenn, 2012).

In fact, this is one of the more difficult concepts: to be a leader one must, typically, prove that they can handle complex tasks, multiple horizontal priorities, and strategic vision. Once promoted into a leadership role, though, depending on the project, one can no longer be self-sufficient regarding outcome. To be a leader, one needs to be neither a dictatorial taskmaster -- barking orders without any reason just to be "in charge." At the same time, a leader cannot be a best friend -- in that they must insist on high standards and timely results. This can only be done with a certain fair, but friendly distancing.

After assessment and literature review, I find that I tend to lead by example, never intending anyone to perform or do anything I say unless I would also perform the task. "Effective leaders strengthen the effort-to-performance expectancy by providing the information, support, and other resources necessary to help employees complete their tasks" (McShane & Von Glinow, 2004). This is supported by a more servant leadership approach rather than management. I have learned that in general, a manager is someone who conducts and organizes affairs, projects, or people. Managers are given the authority by their organization to lead employees, therefore, they have subordinates. So even though managers are in charge, they are not leaders in terms of the definition. Managers do as they are directed, and in turn direct their subordinates. Management requires planning, schedules, production, and time constraints; basically management is task oriented. The task orientation is quite critical -- management is often tactical, while leadership is strategic (U.S. Chamber of Commerce - Partership for Prevention, 2007). Further, it seems to me that the very nature of this type of leadership is the very real conviction that leaders serve followers (and thus the stakeholders and organization), but understanding their needs, and specifically focusing on the leader's ability to facilitate the job performance, environment, and tasks of the organization. How can I help- rather than, What can you do for me today? "Servant leaders make serving employees, customers and the community their number one priority. A servant leader asks whether those the leader serves grow as persons. The servant leader asks 'Do those I serve become wiser, healthier, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants'?" (Brown, Browne, Giampetro-Meyer, & Kubansek, 1998).

What is interesting about servant leadership is that it is the type of leadership that is found in various levels within organizations. Servant leaders are the types of leaders that also lead "within" an organization, and are often critical to the success of the top organizational leaders. One author phrased it thus, "The…[continue]


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