The research of leadership is immense and often perplexing with many areas of the research branching out in variable directions. This is an area where many have an opinion and few completely agree on any theory in the pursuit of what makes a leader “tick.” These theories are often classified into categories. In the book, Leadership in Organizations, Yukl (2010), the book lists five major categories in the approach of leadership: the trait approach, the behavior approach, the power-influence approach, the situational approach, and the integrative approach. This paper will show one approach, the trait approach, and the strengths and weaknesses of that leadership approach. The Trait Approach
The five research approaches of studying leadership are the trait approach, trait, behavior, power influence, situational, and integrative. One of the more useful ways to classify leadership theory and research is according to the type of variable that is emphasized the most. Three types of variables that are relevant for understanding leadership effectiveness include (1) characteristics of leaders, (2) characteristics of followers, and (3) characteristics of the situation. (Yukl, 2010, p. 13). These research theories base much of their focus on large organizations where many layers and levels of managerial positions exist.
The trait approach was one of the first approaches researched, and it accentuated the different characteristics of leadership such as temperament, principles, motives, personality, and abilities. The trait approach examines the leaders who are naturals at leading others. These leaders are thought to be tireless, intuitive, visionary, charismatic, and full of perseverance. Some believe that these leaders are born with a certain set of characteristics that distinguish them from others. In the 1930s and the 1940s, hundreds of research studies were performed to unearth the dynamic set of...
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