Leadership is a construct that can be found in a wide variety of areas of one’s life. From an individual’s time in the classroom to their job or career, leadership can typically be found. Personally, I believe this is, in part, a reason as to why the term leadership can be difficult to define. In this post, I will be discussing leadership as it applies to my personal experiences from my part-time job, specifically in the confines of the Trait Approach.
When I turned 16, I began my first part-time job at a local chain restaurant. Although I did not plan this, I actually maintained my employment through the next eight years, which is where I am still employed today. Throughout my time at this restaurant, the employees had gone through several proprietors and we seemed to have difficulty keeping one for long periods of time. In the eight years that I have been there, we are most recently on our fifth proprietor. As I look back on each proprietor individually, I can see that each one was very similar in terms of their personalities. Stogdill (1974) outlined a variety of traits that can be attributed to an individual who makes a good leader:
From my experiences, it is clear to me that, while each proprietor had a variety of these traits, the number one trait that all of them possessed was self-confidence. Briefly, Northouse (2016) describes self-confidence as the ability for one to have a level of self-esteem and self-assurance that helps them to believe they are competent and skillful. While having self-confidence is a good thing in moderation, it is possible that one’s high self-confidence can lead to negative behaviors, especially when coupled with dark-side personality traits, which are highlighted in the lesson commentary (PSU WC, 2019). All of the proprietors also had a number of these dark-side personality traits, namely narcissism and impulsivity.
In terms of narcissism, as already mentioned, these proprietors were overly self-confident, which is a staple of narcissism (PSU WC, 2019). In addition, these were individuals who were very selfish and struggled with being self-entitled (PSU WC, 2019). Further, they were impulsive, which could be seen by them ignoring the feelings of others when in pursuit of things that furthered their own agenda (PSU WC, 2019).
With these three traits together, this led the proprietors to engage in behaviors that were harmful to themselves and their employees, with sexual harassment being the most frequent behavior engaged in. It is for this reason that their leadership failed. Due to the narcissism and charming personalities, they were popular among the employees, at first. It did not take long for their true colors to show, as they would sexually harass employees at work or at work functions.
When considering what makes a leader a good one, self-confidence may be a trait that crops up in one’s mind. While this can be a trait that one would want to see in their own leader, it is also a trait that can be detrimental to the individual’s leadership capabilities, especially when coupled with dark-side personality traits. Despite there being six of these traits in total, the individuals who assumed a leadership position mentioned in this post all had two in common: narcissism and impulsivity, which ultimately led to the downfall of these men as leaders.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2019). PSYCH 485 Lesson 2: Trait Approach. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2008237/modules/items/27074607