Personality and Leadership



Early work


This type of questioning refers to early research in social psychology on the subject of leadership. Indeed, many studies have been identified, including RM Stogdill.

 Between 1904 and 1948, hundreds of comparative studies between leaders and no-leaders were made: the comparisons were made at the physical characteristics, personality traits and skills. The objective is to be able to build measurement tools for selecting effective leaders. Stodgill then identified certain recurrent stereotypical traits such as the size of the leader (a good leader must be big and strong).
 However, these studies have not led to satisfactory results.

Skills and situations

Twelve years later, Lod, From Life annuity and Allider have nevertheless identified three essential skills: masculinity, intelligence and dominance.
The leading position in its organization depends on the relationship between management style and variabilities of each situation (the skill level of his subordinates for example). 

Moreover, it is the social representation that the subordinates of their leader that makes him what he is. Moreover, the situation often determines the necessary skills.

Leadership, authority and power

Very little in common could therefore be identified. On the one hand, history provides us with proof  Hitler and Napoleon were men of small size, for example.
 Sex is not a factor: Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma or German Chancellor Angela Merkel show us good.
Furthermore, the results were very heterogeneous and sometimes even contradicted. 
Finally, some studies did not differentiate between the leader and the leader. It must indeed differentiate the term leadership to that authority and that of power. While leadership refers to the notion of influence, power, it is used about the command while the authority refers the management. But do not forget that there is an interaction between these three terms.

primordial characteristics

Now, further research could determine a few contingencies. Indeed, at first,three qualities are often identified as essential for the leader of a team:
  • courage: take control of a team or an entire organizational system,  even triggering lightning members of the group or even losing the  esteem of   his superiors demand composure;
  • emotional maturity: being in the ability to move forward, to always grow,  even in anxiety-provoking situations and to learn from experience and from mistakes;
  • personal values: referring to, the leader can evaluate the behavior of   its employees to detect  and therefore to anticipate prejudicial attitudes.
  The best leaders regularly  have this type of   quality. Secondly, Claude Lévy-Leboyer has developed a range of individual characteristics oftenrequired in a good leader. It is based on the model of the  Big Five to highlight some important points: extroversion, dominance, emotional stability, self-confidence and empathy. Generally, the studies allow us to see that effective leaders are also intelligent, masculine, conservative and balanced. Bass (1990) adds that they are active subjects
 (energetic) qualified both technically (intuitive, spontaneous) and social (good communication, manage conflict, etc.). But recent studies have preferred to abandon personality traits to study the behavior of leaders situation.

Innate or acquired

In conclusion, a number of character traits - individual qualities - are fundamental to the functioning of leadership. But these traits are not innate, contrary to conventional wisdom. They are dependent onn the experience of the person, and can grow progressively and to-measure. Moreover, these qualities differ in different situations and types of task. According to Bass,"some people will never be  leaders, others will do that in some situations,others always will be, and regardless of the situation."


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