U04: Good Leadership Traits

Since the dawn of mankind there has always been some style of leader and follower situation. That being said who, or what determined such a method of leadership? Leaders are found everywhere the animal kingdom is full of them as well as the human race today. In both the animal kingdom and the mankind share leadership traits that can be visually seen by followers. I believe that what make a good leader are the followers; the followers are the ones that if aren’t present or following a leader then there wouldn’t be a leader. Yes I understand that is confusing; by this I mean simply if the leader of a company has no employees then does that leader really have leadership?

 

As a human looking at the animal kingdom it is almost too easy (in my opinion) in determining which animals are leaders of their groups. Have you ever witnessed a pride of lions and noticed that there is usually one really big male lion that is walking around or watching over his pride? Typically this is the leader and it was fairly simple to point out right? What about a troop of gorillas have you notice a large male in the front or protecting the troop from threats of attack from other predators? I would say that most individuals could take an educated guess of which animal is the leader of the group. I think this is a very interesting point, at the basic animal groups who are not as intelligent as humans have this form of leadership and us as humans can recognize this to be without communicating with them. This stems from personal characteristics traits of the animals. We as humans can see these such as the biggest, the fastest, and the strongest. I believe that it is programmed into all animals including humans to recognize that bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, louder, wiser, and older are traits that we see as more leadership qualities. Biological markers give people and animals these traits as well as being male which typically can be used to describe a leader. Leadership traits alone do not make a good leader but are a good representation of potential leaders or the appearance of leadership. In my example of the pride a smaller lion male can challenge the leader and if the smaller male is smarter and gets the upper hand on the leader then the smaller male can take over the pride, but still having a trait such as smarter that allows him to become a leader. Leadership is not always about strength, another example would be a parade of elephants typically the older and wiser elephant is regarded as the leader of the parade. In this example the older elephant has more personal histories that help the elephant leader from experience. Animals are primitive and I believe are less dramatic, leaders in the groups are cut and dry “I’m the biggest and strongest and I can protect the group.” Animal leaders make decisions on what’s best for the group because I believe they understand that without their followers they are not a leader and it is harder to survive without the group.

 

So this relates to leadership within the human race because biological markers such as sex, race, color, height, etc… Might influence one’s leadership behavior (Psy 533, 2018).  Leaders are born with attributes that help them at a young age but leaders can also be trained or taught. Some leaders have an easier time because they are bigger and stronger where others have an easier time because they are smarter and wiser. There is not one type of leader for example you can have an authoritarian type which has task-oriented, directive, loud, and authoritative traits (Psy 533, 2018). And another type of leader could be charismatic leader which posse’s dominance, desire to influence, self-confidence, and strong moral values traits (Psy 533, 2018). Transformational leaders raise motivation and morality in both the leader and the followers (Northouse, 2016) with traits such as inspirational, adaptability, proactive, self-management (10 Trans. Leader. Char. , 2017). Leaders that we see in today’s society have a wide range of traits that make them successful in their own way as long as there are followers for them to lead.

The “Big Five” is a group of personality traits that are widely accepted as a science. These traits are conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extraversion. Each has specific definitions that make them important to personal traits which then relates to leadership qualities. Conscientiousness is the tendency to be thorough, organized, controlled, dependable, and decisive. This trait is one that helps a leader be regarded as reliable among their followers. Next agreeableness is the tendency to be accepting, conforming, trusting, and nurturing. Agreeableness is necessary with any leader in order to make their followers feel like they mean something, that they have a say and can make the group better. If a leader isn’t conforming on some issues then the followers can get upset and walk away. Neuroticism or the tendency to be depressed, anxious, insecure, vulnerable, and hostile is something that leaders can run into when dealing with followers. A leader needs to help the follower to overcome these traits in order to make the best of the group; someone like this can bring the group down. For example on a sports team if a  player is depressed and gets angry because they feel like they are going to lose that one player can spread through the team and create a chaotic mess for the leader. Openness is the tendency to be informed, creative, insightful and curious. Within leadership this is extremely important in my opinion because this world is ever changing and new things arise that a leader needs to be open to in order to keep themselves and their followers on the front lines of business, sports, technology, etc… Lastly extraversion is the tendency to be sociable and assertive and be positive. Leaders need to recognize that extraversion is important because as leaders one has to be able to direct their followers with authority but know how to present this direction in a way that doesn’t offend or create hostility among the followers (Northouse, 2016).  These 5 traits are important for a leader to recognize and act accordingly in order to become good leaders.

 

Unlike the animal kingdom humans have to spend more time making decisions that affect the group positively and ethically. The animals might not take ethics in consideration for example when a new male takes over a pride he either banishes the young males or kills them so he can spread he genes and make his offspring. But the lion will make decision that is in the best interest for the health of the group. Human leaders tend to try to do this as well most leaders hold the best interest of the group one of the highest priorities. Unfortunately sometimes money and greed get the best of the leader and put the group after their pockets. Ultimately good leadership traits come from biological markers, personal traits, and the followers themselves. A true test of a leader is to walk into battle and turn around to see who is behind them, leaders are there to lead not dictate and without followers can you really call yourself a leader? 

 

Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (Seventh ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications

PSY 533 (2018). U04 L09: Personality. Retrieved from:

https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/modules

10 Transformational Leadership Characteristics, Attributes and Traits. (2017). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://yscouts.com/10-transformational-leadership-characteristics/

One Comment

  1. Robert Eugene Ames March 26, 2018 at 12:29 AM #

    While some leadership skill can certainly be attributed to things like biodata, charisma, and other personality traits, I concur that it is our ability to develop skills that separates us from animals. However, similar to the animal kingdom, I believe that much of what we learn that helps to make people in to effective leaders is learned by rote and trial and error. We train ourselves and learn by doing and then the act of failing or succeeding. It is true that some of our behavior is due to advanced thought processes, a lot if it is learned by trial and error.

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