There are different kinds of theories that explain the essentiality of traits in leadership. The studies about it have evolved throughout the centuries and have been adapted or practiced in the field of politics, business, religion or in the military. Trait approach studies focused on finding a set of personal characteristics that defines a great leader.

Let’s begin with the concept of personality. Psychologists say that individual personalities are composed of broad dispositions. This is the major concern of trait approach theory. This theory stresses that a combination and interaction of various traits forms a personality that is unique to each person. It also centers on identifying and measuring these individual personality characteristics.

A renowned psychologist, Gordon Allport found out that an English dictionary contains more than 4,000 words describing diverse personality traits. He categorized it into three divisions. Cardinal traits refer to the dominant traits in an individual’s whole life. Examples of these are the terms we commonly hear like Christ-like, Machiavellian, Freudian, narcissism, and the like. Central traits talks about the general characteristics that shapes the basic foundation s of personality. Words like loyal, honest, diligent and smart are among the examples of these.


Secondary traits refer to the traits that are sometimes connected to attitudes or preferences and often come out in a specific situation or only in certain circumstances. Examples of this is being impatient while waiting in line or getting shy in front of an audience while speaking. There are still many explanations about traits according to noted experts. The emphasis boils down to a common goal: finding out the significance of traits to the development of leadership.

An in-depth knowledge about trait approach theories can help a leader better understand his people. The way a leader applies an approach to behavior is the same way with the traits. He needs an open mind and the flexibility to interpret the personality of each individual member. Realize that everyone possess distinct personality traits which make us unique. That is why it is important to choose the right people you want to include in the organization.

If you lead a business organization, specify the requirements you are looking for a potential staff member. The more you know about the kind of person you need and what the job requires, the greater the odds of hiring the right individual. Guidelines like calling many references, several interviews, and checking track records can support a leader to find the right person.

Leadership traits vary from one person to another. There are people who have high energy level, there are some who don’t. There are some who possess creative skills, and some who excel in people skills. Others are up-front and others are just behind-the-scenes. We can’t have it all. But there are traits that can be taught with a proper mentor and environment. It depends on the person or the leader.

Both scientific and social views have a strong definition about traits. But I would say that it’s not the whole thing to be considered in becoming a leader. Inherent traits may be the determinants of achievement but are not the complete basis of reaching the leadership platform. Continuous development of your traits is the real score to enjoy the peak of success.

Vas Blagodarskiy is the author of
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