Development and Revelation of Leadership Trait Theory

Topics: Leadership, Charismatic authority, Situational leadership theory Pages: 11 (3265 words) Published: March 26, 2013
Abstract - This article summarizes recent developments of leadership trait theory, explaining, in detail, the content and characteristics of charismatic leadership theory, implicit leadership theory, effective leadership theory, leadership competency theory and other modern leadership theory. On this basis, this article points out that shifting of research paradigm and comprehension of research level, system of research methods are the key to development and its social importance. At the same time, development of leadership trait theory shows that leadership trait theory still has a large value of theory and application, personality traits can promote or impede the efforts of leaders’ influence on others, and leadership traits can be formed and developed and acquiesced in practice. This is good for our comprehensive, in-depth understanding of leadership trait theory, promoting study on leadership trait theory.

Keywords - Leadership trait theory, Charismatic leadership theory, implicit leadership theory, effectiveness of leadership, development


Leadership is with humans, but it was not until early in the 1930 of the 20th century, scientific research of leadership really began. Leadership trait theory is the earliest branch of the theoretical leadership study. In the 1930 of the 20th century, researchers applied psychological research methods on the characteristics study of the leaders, thus forming the leadership trait theory. Study on the trait theory of leadership during this period focused on mental, character, knowledge, abilities, and other characteristics of leaders, whether there is a difference in essence exists between leaders and followers, whether a particular personality traits, physical property, intellectual or personal values will distinguish followers and leaders. In 1948, Stodgily conducted a study of relevant literature, came to the two main conclusions that, first, there is no essential difference between leaders and followers in quality; second, some characteristics are very important which have a link with successful leadership. These features are ability, achievement, responsibility, participation, etc. [1, 2] Mann (1959) and Stodgily (1974) reviewed hundreds of documents, large amounts of evidence to consolidate the above two conclusions. Although Stodgily (1948, 1974) and Mann (1959) have presented sufficient evidence to show that leaders who have the right traits are more likely to succeed, but many researchers neglect this, just concerned about this conclusion "there are no essential differences between leaders and followers". Thus, they wrongly concluded that "personal attributes cannot be used to predict the future leadership success". [3]So the research perspective from the leadership trait theory was shifted to others, leadership trait theory was into a low ebb. Until the Lord, DeVader, Aligner (1986), Hogan, and Curphy (1994) published seminar articles, leadership personality traits were only broadly concerned by researchers. Leadership trait theory after years of development, through a change of research perspective, created a charm leadership theory, McClelland's theory of achievement motivation and leading motivation. Leadership trait theory after the recent development of more than 30 years, have gain more and more attention, system research of development of leadership trait theory is of great significance for more in-depth understanding and research and application of this theory.


Since the leadership science as an independent discipline, the trait theory of leadership research has been ongoing, forming rich literature. This study has laid a good foundation. We can analyze the choroid about the trait theory of leadership development from a large number of literatures of the leadership trait theory, and can obtain its development law. So, this article took literature research as the main research methods, through...

References: [1] R.M. Stodgill. Personal factors with leadership: A survey of the literature. The Journal of Psycholgy, 1948, 28, pp.35-71.
[2] R.M. Stogill, Handbook of leadership: A survey of the literature, New York, Free Press, 1974.
[5] Kirkpatrick, S.A., and Locke, Edwin A. Direct and Indirect Effects of Three Core Charismatic Leadership Components on Performance and Attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 1996. 81: pp.36-51.
[6] Yuke, Gary. Leadership in organizations, 4th ed. New York: Prentice Hall. 1998.
[11]Chan, K.Y,Rounds., J,&Drasgow, F. The Relation between vocational Interests and the Motivation to lead. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2000,October , Volume 57,Issue 2,Pages 226-245.
[13]Bass, B. M. Bass and stogdill 's Handbook of leadership: Theory, research and managerial applications (3rd Ed) [M]. New York: Free press, 1990.
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