Leadership is defined as the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. Leadership is a very important behavioural aspect that affects organisations and employee relations. The nature and style of leadership plays an important role in employee relations, motivation, conflict resolution, and creation of overall organisational vision and direction.
In formal organisations, advancements are based on merit and seniority. The power held by an individual corresponds to the position the individual occupies in the hierarchy. But in informal organisations, leaders emerge from within the organisational structure. The leader is able to attract followers due to a combination of circumstances and the qualities the leader possesses.
The Trait Theory: This theory uses traits (characteristics) to distinguish between leaders and non-leaders. The traits associated with leadership according to this theory are shown in figure 4.1. The traits that indicate strong leadership are as follows:
Intelligence: This refers to the mental ability of a person and is only a moderate predictor of leadership. The Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of a person can be used as a qualifier for high management jobs, but once the high position is attained, an effective leader also displays good levels of Emotional Quotient (EQ). EQ helps a leader to empathise with the motivation and emotions of others. Many people feel that Carly Fiorina, the ousted leader of Hewlett-Packard, had a high IQ but a low empathy for the people around her and ignored the human aspects of her decisions.
Extraversion: Extraverts have higher social and interpersonal skills. They are more energetic, assertive and self-confident. As extraverts are more dominant, they emerge as natural leaders. For example, Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, is an extraverted leader.