A leader is someone we see as a strong individual who can influence others to meet a common goal. One very important trait that has been outlined is self-confidence. “Self-confidence is the ability to be certain about one’s competencies and skills.” (Northouse, 2016, p.24). It gives the individual a sense that they are making the right decision and they hold themselves to a high standard. They think highly of their potential to influence others in a way they believe is right, even when it may be wrong. Joe Krutel is the CFO of a company called Sports X, which is from a fictional television show called Ballers on HBO. If one were to watch the show and study Joe, they would say he has a high level of self-confidence, at times to a fault. He is highly optimistic, competitive, and is not always the most sensitive person. Joe would be in line with what Northouse quotes about Steve Jobs, “Jobs was one of those CEOs who ran the company like he wanted to.” (Northouse, 2016, p.24).
You can see from the beginning of the show this trait on full display. Joe brings out his business partner to a parcel of land he plans to build a new facility at. While presenting the idea to his partner you can see he has high levels of extraversion and openness. He has a grandiose vision for the future of Sports X, with insightful opinions about how to make things happen. After telling his partner he’s already placed an offer on the land, his partner has doubts. However, Joe keeps the positive energy and confidence that this decision is what is best for the company. Joe has two of the five pillars in the FFM, both of which are in the top 3. “Extraversion was the factor most strongly associated with leadership” (Northouse, 2016, p.27). Joe is making the case that he is a desirable leader if we are examining him from the trait approach at this point.
“To manage means to accomplish activities and master routines, whereas to lead means to influence others and create visions for change” (Northouse, 2016, p.14). Effective leadership is a process dependent on followers and situations. Throughout the show Joe can be seen challenging his followers and motivating them to create change. In an example he challenges the head of branding to figure out a way to create more hype around a new product line. He influenced the follower to think of how to get it done in a new and creative way, as opposed to mastering the routine of a sales pitch, per say. Now the way he influenced the follower would not be considered by most the best way. There is a dark side to personality, and sometimes these traits can overpower the desirable ones. In the interaction with the follower Joe displayed interpersonal insensitivity. He belittled the employee by calling him out on everything he was doing wrong and using vulgar language. He in the moment saw nothing wrong with this because it was a way he did things in the past with other employees, and he saw results. This however is a classic example of a leader not understanding the psychological differences of his follower.
People with high levels of self-confidence will be thought of as great leaders when examining them through the trait approach, in some cases. One of the criticisms of this approach is that the list of desired traits is subjective (Northouse, 2016, p.31). If we only look at one list and take from it self-confidence, extraversion, and openness, Joe looks like the perfect leader. However, we cannot forget the dark side that I mentioned above. While Joe is clearly a leader of this company, is it the leader we want? He shows instances of impulsivity and narcissism which is a product of being overly confident in his abilities.
Northouse, P. (2016). Leadership Theory and Practice (7th ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc
HBO. (2019, August 25). Protocol is for Losers. Ballers. Los Angeles, CA.