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Q.1 Explain the trait theory of leadership. [10 Marks]

The Trait Theory: This theory uses traits (characteristics) to distinguish between leaders and non-leaders. The traits associated with leadership  according to this theory are shown in figure. The traits that indicate strong leadership are as follows:

Intelligence: This refers to the mental ability of a person and is only a moderate predictor of
leadership. The Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of a person can be used as a qualifier for high management jobs, but once the high position is attained, an effective leader also displays good levels of Emotional Quotient (EQ). EQ helps a leader to empathise with the motivation and emotions of others. Many people feel that Carly Fiorina, the ousted leader of Hewlett-Packard, had a high IQ but a low empathy for the people around her and ignored the human aspects of her decisions.

Extraversion: Extraverts have higher social and interpersonal skills. They are more energetic, assertive and self-confident. As extraverts are more dominant, they emerge as natural leaders. For example, Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, is an extraverted leader.

Figure depicts traits associated with leadership.
Figure : Traits Associated with Leadership

Conscientiousness: Conscientious people are organised, dependable, systematic, punctual, and achievement oriented. They take initiative and are persistent in all they do.

Openness: People who are open to new ideas and try new things become effective leaders.

Self-Esteem: People with good self-esteem assess their worth and capabilities in a more positive manner. Leaders with high self-esteem are more supportive to their subordinates. People with higher self esteem are more self-confident and have greater charisma.

Integrity: Effective leaders display honesty and integrity. Such leaders are more trustworthy.
Behavioural Theory: Behavioural theory of leadership does not deal with the traits or capabilities of a leader. They focus more on what the leaders actually do. According to this theory, leadership capabilities are not inherent and can be learned. It correlates the successes of leaders with their actions.

Managerial Grid Model: This is a behavioural leadership model proposed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton. This model identifies the different leadership styles based on the concern for people and the concern for production.

Figure shows the graphical representation of the managerial grid model.
Figure : Graphical Representation of the Managerial Grid Model3

In this model, the concern for production is represented on the X-axis and the concern for people on the Y-axis. Each axis is marked from ‘1’ (low) to ‘9’ (high). The different leadership styles that are identified are as follows:

The Indifferent or Impoverished Style (1, 1): Managers adopting this style have low concerns for both people and production. Managers are more concerned about preserving their jobs and avoiding getting into trouble. The managers do not want to be held responsible for any mistakes and are therefore, less innovative.

The Accommodating or Country Club Style (1, 9): Managers using this style are more concerned about the people than the production. Managers try to ensure security and comfort of the employees hoping that it will enhance performance. The workplace atmosphere is pleasant but not necessarily productive.

The Dictatorial Style (9, 1): Managers using this style are more concerned about production than the people. Managers do not consider the needs of their subordinates. Managers pressurise their employees to achieve company goals by imposing rules and threatening them with punishment.

The Status-Quo or Middle of the Road Style (5, 5): Managers adopting this style try to balance employee needs and company goals. But in trying to compromise, the managers do not meet the needs of the company or that of the employee.

The Sound or Team Style (9, 9): Managers using this style are concerned about the people and the production. Managers encourage teamwork and employee commitment. Managers make employees feel that they are contributing constructively to the company.

The Opportunistic Style: Managers using this style exploit and manipulate their subordinates. This style does not have a fixed location on the grid. Managers adopt the behaviour which offers them the greatest personal benefit.

The Paternalistic Style: Managers using this style praise and support their subordinates but discourage their being innovative. This style alternates between the (1, 9) and (9, 1) locations on the grid.

Now that we are familiar with various theories on leadership, let us understand the different leadership styles present in organisations. The following section discusses the same.


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