Trait theories argue that leaders have some innate talented abilities so they can get extraordinary outcomes from these skills. According to Huczynski and Buchanan (2007, p. 699), the Trait Approach arose from the “Great Man” theory as a way of identifying the key characteristics of successful leaders. Some researchers argue that regardless of whether leaders are born or made, they are different from other people, leaders need to have the right stuff which not everyone has (Avery 2004).
Researchers evaluated physical and intellectual traits or features such as strong drive for responsibility; focus on completing the task; vigour and persistence in pursuit of goals; self-confidence; willingness to tolerate frustration and delay; readiness to absorb interpersonal stress and the ability to influence the behaviour of others (Stogdill 1948, 1974, p. 81 cited in Huczynski and Buchanan 2007, p. 699). Emotional Stability and composure, Admitting error, Good interpersonal skill and Intellectual breadth (McCall and Lombardo, 1983).
Traits of an effective leader according to Lussier and Achua (2004) are Dominance, High energy, Self-confidence, Locus of control, Stability, Integrity, Intelligence, Flexibility and Sensitivity to Others. Maxwell (2005) also identified the 360 Degree leadership qualities as adaptability, discernment, perspective, communication, security, servanthood, resourcefulness, maturity, endurance and competence over the long haul and accountability. However, it is hard to accept that possessing special traits propels people into leadership roles in organisations where leadership is widely distributed (Avery 2004).
It cannot be disputed that leaders who do not possess all the traits, whatever they are, are often effective and the leaders who possess many of them are often not effective( Gill 2006) “The lists of possible traits tend to be very long and there is not always agreement on the most important” (Mullins 2005, p. 287). The Behavioural Theory concentrates on what leaders really do in place of seeking their innate traits. It says that effective leadership is based on attainable behaviour, that is, leadership doesn’t inhabit in the person, but can be developed as unique style of behaviour.
Adair’s (1973 cited in Gosling et al 2007) model is that the action-centred leader gets the job done through the work team and associations with fellow managers and staff. According to Adair’s clarification, an action-centred leader is required to outline what the task requires, what the team requires and what each individual requires. Leadership as a behavioural grouping has attracted awareness to the significance of leadership styles, which is a blend of a leader’s trait, behaviour and abilities used in connecting with followers. According to Goleman (2000, p.
61-73) there are six leadership styles: Coercive leaders demands immediate compliance (”Do what I say”) an example would be a manager who reign with terror, and is domineering. Coercive leadership could sometimes have a damaging effect on an organisation. Goleman advised that this leadership style should be used with severe care in situations when it is absolutely imperative such as during a turnaround and indisputable crisis. According to Schaeffer (2002, p. 111) a coercive leader is known as ”a reformer who defies convention and stubbornly tries to make the world a better place”.
Authoritative leaders mobilises people toward a vision (”Come with me”). To illustrate this is an example of an up-country branch of Zenith bank that was not making profit, the branch’s poor performance troubled management and they contemplated changing the Branch Head. However, a junior manager in same branch made a bold step, tasked his colleagues to step up their customer service delivery. With his energetic zeal and clear vision, he filled a leadership vacuum in the branch and within few weeks, the desired positive changes came.
Authoritative leadership maximises dedication to the organisation’s objectives and plan. Affiliative leaders generates emotional connection and harmony (”People come first”), this type of leadership rotates around people; this leader is more bothered about people’s emotions than tasks and goals. The style of leadership promotes communication, flexibility, permits consistent innovation and risk taking. However, despite its benefits, Goleman advised that the affiliative style should not be used alone. If relied on, this style can lead to failure.
For example, a Senior Manager in a branch of Zenith Bank Plc was seen by his subordinate as a perfect leader. He shared ideas with them, was flexible and did not impose unnecessary strictures on how employees get their work done. However, a major fraud occurred in the branch, the Head Teller in conjunction with the some other staff members colluded with a customer to defraud another customer’s account. The Branch Head was blamed for his laxity in the branch’s operation. Democratic leaders build harmony through participation. Being a participative leader is not always easy, because it requires letting go.
You have to trust all the people who work with you to make wise management decisions (Schaeffer 2002). Before going for Operations Meeting at the Head office, the Head of operation (HOP) in a Zenith bank branch usually calls a meeting of all operation staff and requests for suggestions and new ideas, he would then take the issues to the meeting. He also takes time in explaining management’s actions. The HOP exemplifies the democratic style by spending time in clearing up the basis for the action and also getting people’s feedback.
This built trust, admiration and dedication. Pacesetting leaders anticipate distinction and self-direction, this leader sets standards and exemplifies them himself. He is infatuated about doing things better and more rapidly and expects his subordinates to do same. This style is comparable to the coercive style, it demolishes people’s self-esteem, subordinates feel that the leader does not trust them to work on their own or to take the initiative; work turns out to be so task focused and boring.
An example could be the Head of Trade Services Unit in a Zenith Bank branch who does not trust that her subordinates are capable of carrying out their duties without her supervision; and would take on tasks from people she feels are too slow, rather than encourage them to pick up. However, Goleman believed this style works well when all employees are energetic, highly knowledgeable and need little direction. Coaching leaders build up people for the future; this leader helps employees recognize their potency and flaws.
They allot duties; they give demanding tasks and are willing to put up with short term disappointment if it promotes long term knowledge. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t use this style as they don’t have the time in this high pressure economy for teaching people and helping them grow (Goleman 2000) The restrictions of behavioural theory are that a leadership style may seem actually good to pursue but the genuine custom proves different outcome. Wright (1996) says that many of the early writers that looked to participative and people-centred leadership argued that it brought about greater satisfaction amongst followers.
One of other constraint of behavioural approach is that a leader cannot just pursue one approach as McKenna (1998) says that by early 1960s there was detection that leadership could not be described acceptable in terms of behavioural approach. The proposition of contingency theories is that effective leadership requires a style of behaviour that matches the conditions in which it is exercised (Wilson 2008). This means that the capability of the leader to guide is dependent on a range of situational features.
One thing depends on other things, for a leader to be effective, there must be an appropriate fit between the leader’s behaviour, style, followers and the situation (Lussier and Achua 2004). Frederick Fiedler (1967; Fiedler and Chamers, 1974, 1984 cited in Huczynski and Buchanan 2007) argues that effectiveness is influenced not just by leadership orientation but by the extent to which the task in hand is structured, the leader’s position power and the nature of the relationships between the leader and followers.
Fiedler felt that most supervisors have challenges in altering their leadership technique. If the technique goes with the circumstances, the leader will be effective Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard (1988 cited in Huczynski and Buchanan 2007) argued that the effective leader must be a good diagnostician and adapt style to meet the demands of the situation in which they operate. Contrasting Fiedler, they think a leader is capable of modifying his technique to fit the context.
As Goffee and Jones (2000 cited in Gill 2006, p. 49) say, ”given that there are endless contingencies in life, there are endless varieties of leadership… the beleaguered executive looking for a model to help him is hopelessly lost”. The contingency theories did not explain how leadership styles vary according to organisational level or at top executive level (Zaccaro and Klimoski, 2001)