11 examples of leadership trait theory (2023) (2023)

11 examples of leadership trait theory (2023) (1)

OfTrait theory of leadershipstates that leaders are born with different personality traits that make them natural leaders. People who are born with certain characteristics then exhibit certain behaviors that make them leaders.

According to trait theory, you cannot learn to be a good leader. Great leaders are born with a set of traits that set them apart from the rest of the population. These qualities then propel them to greatness.

A born leader's personality profile includes several traits such as: adaptability, assertiveness, decisiveness, a high level of motivation, the ability to motivate others and self-confidence to name a few.

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Definition of the trait theory of leadership

This view of leadership as a set of characteristics goes back to the work of Thomas CarlyleBig man-teori.

At the time, the most famous leaders were in the military or in politics, traditionally male-dominated fields. the 21ststIn the 20th century, we could name many examples of great female leaders, such as Margaret Thatcher and Susan B. Anthony.

Trait theory research usually involved observing leaders and creating a catalog of their common traits. This led different researchers to create slightly different profiles and realize that not all leaders have the same characteristics.

Today's management approach is more situational and complex, taking into account the needs of a project and the characteristics of employees.

Examples of the trait theory of leadership

1. Inspirational

One of the most important qualities of a leader, described in the trait theory of leadership, has to do with the ability to inspire others.

The ability to deliver a pep talk that captures the attention of others and compels them to take action is a rare quality.

It is a skill that is composed of several traits commonly discussed in leadership trait theory, including confidence, charisma, and verbal communication. When these qualities come together, such as giving a speech in difficult times, it can be a wonderful experience for the witnesses.

There are several famous speeches that are often seen as good examples of uplifting and inspiring moments in history. For example, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, a classic.

2. Highly motivated

Achievement motivation is the drive to complete tasks and have a sense of accomplishment. Some people are just moreintrinsically motivatedThan others. They possess an inner will to succeed that compels them to act and succeed.

When they fail, their resolve becomes even stronger. They are persistent and overcome failures because they are sure that success will come eventually.

According to the trait theory of leadership, leaders are highly ambitious, willing and able to put in a lot of effort to achieve their goals and approach each step of their journey to success with energy, passion and enthusiasm.

3. Adaptability and flexibility

The ability to change course when circumstances call for it is an important quality of effective leaders.

Projects or ventures of any kind rarely go exactly as planned. On the road to success, there will always be unexpected obstacles and even failures.

The ability to recognize when a change is needed and to admit that a mistake has been made are qualities that many lack. Some leaders find it difficult to admit a mistake and change their plan.

But almost all historical figures that scholars consider examples of great leaders demonstrate the ability to adapt and be flexible. They are not stubborn enough to let a project fail to save their pride. The goal has the highest priority, not protecting your own ego.

See also:Best adaptability for managers

4. Emotional intelligence

Although different scientists use slightly different terms such as B. emotional stability, equanimity or understanding of others, today we could classify these terms as emotional intelligence.

Competent leaders have the remarkable ability to avoid overreacting in urgent situations. They're just not that easy to fool. Even when a situation seems dire and everyone around them is under tremendous emotional strain, the great leader remains calm and collected.

You are able to focus on problem solving and the big picture, positioning yourself as a driving force for others to follow. In combination with their other properties, such asinterpersonaland communication skills, they are able to take on big challenges.

5. Determination

Another characteristic of true leaders, according to trait theory, is decisiveness. You have an extraordinary ability to handle any situation exactly as you should. This is especially true at times when the stakes are high and the consequences can be harmful.

While most people feel torn between several possible solutions to the same situations, it seems that a great leader instinctively knows what to do. They are very confident in their decisions and are able to articulate their merits to others in an extremely convincing manner.

This determination and clear understanding inspires confidence in others and compels them to follow suit.

6. Endurance

The ability to persevere is another admirable quality of a great leader. Some projects can be incredibly complex and even drag on for years.

There will undoubtedly be many failures and setbacks along the way. This can lead to the team losing motivation, experiencing burnout and even leaving some employees.

So persistence is very important. Overcoming obstacles requires determination and perseverance. It may happen that the team leader realizes that his original plans were wrong and has to go back to the drawing board. Additional training may be required, or the employment of outsiders whose opinions may differ widely.

There are many challenges, so it is absolutely essential to have a leader who can persevere.

7. Courage and determination

Since the early years of trait theory research focused mostly on the study of military leaders, it is not surprising that traits such as courage and determination were identified. Military leaders face life-or-death situations that have significant consequences.

The sovereignty of entire nations can be at stake. The pressure to surrender, change course or make peace when things look bleak can be intense and come from all sides.

The traits of courage and determination are exactly what you need to complete your commitment to the end. When utter failure and disaster threaten, truly great leaders persevere. This requires a level of courage and confidence that most of us simply do not have.

8. Reliability

For people to follow, they must have faith in leadership. You must be able to trust that what the manager says is true. There are many situations where a person in a leadership position cannot discuss a situation or a project completely openly.

Some details may have been omitted on purpose. The time frame may be shorter than originally stated or resource availability may not be as extensive as originally stated. When team members finally learn the true situation, they lose a great deal of trust in the leader.

This can be devastating to any project, no matter how big or small. Most people would rather follow a guide who tells them in advance how wrong it can get than be tricked and only find out the truth later.

9. Karisma

We all know when we talk to someonecharismatic authority. We can just feel it. You have a presence that is distinctly different from others.

We can feel charisma in the way someone who possesses it communicates. You speak with an expressive intonation, have excellent language skills and exude confidence without seeming arrogant or aloof. Their behavior while speaking is also different. Their demeanor and demeanor portray someone who knows exactly what they are talking about.

When we communicate with someone with charisma or listen to a speech they give, it just creates a completely different feeling in us. Your words can bring people to tears or inspire them to take action despite the risks involved.

10. Intelligence and problem solving skills

Managers must be intelligent and have excellent problem solving skills. It is not necessary to be a genius, but a high intellect is.

Every project brings with it numerous obstacles and unforeseen challenges. Any problem must be resolved in a timely and efficient manner. There can be many different opinions that the team offers different solutions.

It is up to the manager to make the final decision. Therefore, they must be able to identify the best course of action and take the necessary steps.

If a leader is not a competent problem solver, the project will fail and the team will lose confidence in the leader. But if the manager is alert and wise, he can devise and implement a solution that will move the project forward.

11. Take responsibility

A strong leader can take responsibility for his mistakes. Instead of pointing fingers and blaming others for failure, the leader recognizes their role and is willing to admit mistakes. This can be a rare trait among leaders.

Accepting guilt is difficult. Many people in leadership positions believe that because they are the leader, they must be perfect. Some may fear that admitting a mistake opens the door for subordinates to question their leadership or perhaps even take their stand.

However, a strong leader is not afraid of the people on his team. They also understand that admitting mistakes can actually build more confidence. A leader who accepts responsibility for failure creates a work environment that is open, honest, and encourages both risk-taking and creativity.


Leadership theory attempts to identify specific personality traits that great leaders possess. According to the theory, some people are born with these traits, but most are not. These characteristics are reflected in behaviors that lead to success.

Although different researchers have established slightly different leadership profiles, there are many common characteristics, such as: B. Charismatic, highly motivated and the ability to inspire others. Great leaders have excellent problem-solving skills and can take responsibility for their mistakes. You are determined, courageous and tenacious to face formidable challenges.

While the beginnings of trait theory can be traced back to the "big man" theory, leadership skills are not limited to just half the population. Many great leaders in history have been women.


Carlyle, T. (1841/2013).About heroes, hero worship and the heroic in history. (DR Sorensen & BE Kinser, Hrsg.). New Haven: Yale University Press. Doi:http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vm0w4

Groves, KS(2006). Managers' emotional expressiveness, visionary leadership and organizational change.Magazine for management and organizational development27(7), 566-583. Doi:https://doi.org/10.1108/01437730610692425

Judge, TA, Piccolo, RF, & Kosalka, T. (2009). The bright and dark sides of leadership traits: an overview and theoretical extension of the leadership traits paradigm.The Quarterly Guide,20(6), 855-875. Doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2009.09.004

management now. (2011, February). Ronald Regan on Leadership. Picked up from:https://www.leadershipnow.com/leadingblog/2011/02/ronald_reagan_on_leadership.html

Spector, B. (2016).Carlyle, Freud and the Big Man Theory in more detail. management, 12(2). doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1742715015571392

Stogdill, Ralph M. (1948). Personal factors associated with leadership: a review of the literature.Das Journal of Psychology, (25)1, 35-72. Doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.1948.9917362

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Dave Cornell (PhD)

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Dr. Cornell has been active in education for over 20 years. His work has included designing teacher certification for Trinity College London and in-service training for state governments in the United States. He has trained kindergarten teachers in 8 countries and helped business people open baby centers and kindergartens in 3 countries.

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This article was peer reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The verification process continuesHelpful professorThis includes reviewing, editing and contributing to PhD-level articles. Reviewers ensure that all content reflects the consensus of scientific experts and is supported by references to scientific studies. Drew has published more than 20 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. He is a former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.


What is an example of trait theories of leadership? ›

Those who have self-confidence typically show strong leadership traits in the company. For example, if someone presents their confidence when completing tasks and suggesting new ideas, they may encourage others to replicate the confident behaviour.

What is the trait theory of leadership short answer? ›

The trait theory of leadership suggests that certain inborn or innate qualities and characteristics make someone a leader. These qualities might be personality factors, physical factors, intelligence factors, and so on.

What are the top 3 criticisms to trait leadership theory? ›

1) The approach has not fixed a definitive list of leadership traits and the list that has emerged seems endless. 2) The approach has failed to take situations into account. 3) There has much subjective interpretation of the meaning of the data and data is not always based on reliable research.

What 11 characteristics does effective leadership revolve around? ›

  • Self-Managing. ...
  • Acting Strategically. ...
  • Being An Effective Communicator. ...
  • Being Accountable And Responsible. ...
  • Setting Clear Goals And Persisting In Achieving Them. ...
  • Having A Vision For The Future. ...
  • Fostering Creativity And Innovation. ...
  • Team Building And Promoting Teamwork.
Mar 22, 2017

What is trait theory with example? ›

There are three criteria that characterize personality traits: (1) consistency, (2) stability, and (3) individual differences. Individuals must be somewhat consistent across situations in their behaviors related to the trait. For example, if they are talkative at home, they tend also to be talkative at work.

What is an example of a trait approach? ›

What is an example of the trait approach? Examples of the trait approach, or personality trait theory, include people that view the world as very depressing and negative. They would be considered as having pessimistic character traits.

What's the biggest problem with trait theory? ›

Some of the most common criticisms of trait theory center on the fact that traits are often poor predictors of behavior.7 While an individual may score high on assessments of a specific trait, they may not always behave that way in every situation.

What is the major weakness of trait theory? ›

Weaknesses of trait theory: While trait theories provide an explanation of how traits predict behavior, they do not explain why these traits develop. Trait theories do not trace the development of personality.

What is the least effective leadership theory? ›

On the contrary, the least effective leadership styles are opportunist and autocratic, due to their demand for control and egocentricism.

What are the 14 leadership traits? ›

The precursor to the Marine Corps' 14 Leadership Traits (Bearing, Courage, Decisiveness, Dependability, Endurance, Enthusiasm, Initiative, Integrity, Judgment, Justice, Knowledge, Loyalty, Tact, and Unselfishness) originally appeared in the Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 22-1 “Leadership” in 1948.

What are the top 7 keys to successful leadership? ›

7 Keys to Becoming a Super Effective Leader
  1. Don't take It all too seriously. Without a doubt, running a company is serious business. ...
  2. Recognize achievements. Every employee wants to do a good job. ...
  3. Set goals. ...
  4. Delegate wisely. ...
  5. Think about lasting solutions. ...
  6. Make time for employees. ...
  7. Communicate.
Jan 29, 2018

How is trait theory used today? ›

Understanding traits allows us to compare people, to determine which traits allow a person to do better in college, in relationships, or in a specific career. We can help guide people toward a more agreeable future by knowing how they interact with the world.

Are leaders born or made? ›

Many people have begun to acknowledge that most leaders are made rather than born. While a natural affinity for leadership is always appreciated, many employees need consistent practice and skill-building resources to become talented leaders.

Which activity is an example of consideration behavior? ›

Consideration behaviors include being supportive and friendly, representing people's interests, communicating openly with group members, recognizing them, respecting their ideas, and sharing concern for their feelings. Initiating structure involves “task-oriented” leader behaviors.

What is the best example of a trait? ›

Traits are essentially physical characteristics. These include things such as fin length, body shape, color patterns, eyesight, and muscle definition. For instance, the smallmouth bass possess highly adapted traits such as keen eyesight and the ability to detect vibrations in the water.

What is a real life example of trait theory of personality? ›

To have a personality trait, individuals must be somewhat consistent across situations in their behaviours related to the trait. For example, if they are talkative at home, they tend also to be talkative at work. Individuals with a trait are also somewhat stable over time in behaviours related to the trait.

What are real life examples of traits? ›

Some examples of character traits are honesty, loyalty, generosity, and impatience. These are just some of the many different types of character traits that may help you to better understand yourself or others around you.

What are 3 examples of types of traits? ›

Character Traits Examples
  • loyal.
  • generous.
  • kind.
  • sincere.
  • persistent.
  • open-minded.
  • brave.
  • quiet.

What is an example of trait theorists? ›

Early trait theorists tried to describe all human personality traits. For example, one trait theorist, Gordon Allport (Allport & Odbert, 1936), found 4,500 words in the English language that could describe people.

What is an example of the behavioral theory of leadership? ›

A great example of the behavioral theory is looking at a task-oriented leader vs. a people-oriented leader. If there's a problem with a team, a task-oriented leader will look at the process to see if something needs to be adjusted with the workflow.

What are strengths of trait theory? ›

Strengths of Trait Approach. The trait approach focuses on the leader and not on the followers or the situation. This approach is concerned with what traits leaders exhibit and who has these traits. It assumes that it is the leader and his/her personality that are central to the leadership process.

Why is trait theory of leadership important? ›

The trait theory gives constructive information about leadership. It can be applied by people at all levels in all types of organizations. Managers can utilize the information from the theory to evaluate their position in the organization and to assess how their position can be made stronger in the organization.

What are traits of leaders? ›

A good leader should have integrity, self-awareness, courage, respect, empathy, and gratitude. They should be learning agile and flex their influence while communicating and delegating effectively. See how these key leadership qualities can be learned and improved at all levels of your organization.

What is a powerful criticism of trait theory? ›

A prominent criticism of the trait theory of leadership is that the theory can only predict leaders' emergence, not leaders' effectiveness.

What are two limitations of trait theory? ›

There are two main limitations to Trait Theory of Personality: Correlations do not equal Causation - the categorization is based on correlational data, so specific traits cannot strictly predict behavior because they do not cause the behavior.

What are the six key leadership traits? ›

What Are 6 Traits of a Great Leader?
  • Acting with Vision. A great leader can see the future and has a clear vision for where they want to take their business. ...
  • Taking Risks. ...
  • Effectively Solving Problems. ...
  • Having Accountability. ...
  • Creating a Positive Culture. ...
  • Building Strong Relationships.

Which is the most difficult leadership style? ›

There are a lot of skills that make up good leadership, but there is one quality that is possibly the most challenging, that is self-awareness, because self-awareness requires you to focus on yourself—not the easiest thing to do for an outwardly focused leader.

What is the most difficult style of leadership to learn? ›

Effective Delegation.

Learning to delegate appropriately is one of the hardest leadership skills to learn. It involves elements of some of the other skills, particularly understanding the capacities and limitations of followers.

What is the most successful leadership style? ›

1. Authoritative Leadership. The authoritative leader knows the mission, is confident in working toward it, and empowers team members to take charge just as she is. The authoritative leader uses vision to drive strategy and encourages team members to use their strengths and emerge as leaders themselves.

What are 3 essential leadership traits? ›

If you want to become an effective and inspiring head of your team, focus on honing these three essential leadership qualities.
  • Communication. ...
  • A positive attitude. ...
  • The ability to delegate.

What are the four 4 most important leadership characteristics? ›

Effective leaders are competent, skilled, secure, and considerate. These leaders find time for everyone; they are genuine and authentic in their communications and actions.

What is a real life example of leadership? ›

Eight leadership situation examples to showcase
  • Leading a project or task in school. ...
  • Organizing a study group. ...
  • Leading a sports team. ...
  • Volunteering for nonprofit organizations. ...
  • Training or mentoring new team members. ...
  • Leading a meeting or committee. ...
  • Working in student governments and professional organizations.
Feb 22, 2023

Who is the world's No 1 leader? ›

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as the world's most popular leader with an approval rating of 78 per cent. This was revealed in a Global Leader Approval Ratings released by a US based consulting firm Morning Consult.

Who is an example of a bad leader? ›

Michael Scott is one of the most notorious bad leaders in television history. He constantly makes unprofessional and inappropriate comments to employees, corporate officers, vendors, and clients, and often fails to read the room and notice the discomfort he causes.

What are the 5 C's of effective leadership? ›

Effective leaders can build strong teams on these five principles, the five Cs of great leadership:
  • Collaborate. It may be satisfying to be able to complete a project on your own. ...
  • Communicate. Strong leaders motivate and instruct with confidence. ...
  • (Be) Candid. ...
  • Connect. ...
  • Care. ...
  • Credit your culture.

What are the 4 A's of leadership? ›

We as leaders must constantly be Aligned, Accountable, Authentic, and Aware.

What are the 4 C's of effective leadership? ›

The importance of the four C's in leadership: Candor, Commitment, Courage and Competence are necessary to maintain strong and effective soldiers. A reflection of a good leader shows in his followers.

What is an example of trait theory of leadership in sport? ›

For example a footballer who is aggressive on the pitch will be aggressive off the pitch. Another example could be: - A snooker player, who is very calm and controlled during a game, would also show they are calm and controlled when they are stuck in a traffic jam for an hour.

What are trait and behavior theories of leadership? ›

Under the trait theory of leadership, people are naturally born with leadership skills. With the behavioral theory of leadership, people who are not naturally born with leadership characteristics will have to learn them by observing leadership behaviors.

Which company uses trait theory? ›

Trait theory suggests that successful leadership is an amalgamation of traits that defines leadership skills and qualities. Companies like coca cola assess the employees on psychological traits focusing on unique qualities.

What is an example of a trait Centred view in sport? ›

Trait-Centered View

Thus, coaches often describe an athlete as a "real winner," implying that this individual has a personal makeup that allows him to excel in sport. Similarly, another athlete may be described as a "loser" who has no get-up-and-go.

What is an example of participative leadership? ›

The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates is a true participative leadership example. He is known to take suggestions from colleagues and teams. He understands how imperative it is to value the knowledge and skills of team members.

What is an example of behavioral theory of motivation? ›

Indeed, one of the most important aspects of this type of motivation is that any goal one seeks can motivate behaviour. For example, the goal of obtaining a high-paying job could serve as a strong motivator for studying hard in school.

What are the Big Five model trait theories of leadership? ›

These factors, commonly called the Big Five, are neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.


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