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Leadership is a critical issue and can be understood in different perspectives and different contexts. It would be difficult to give leadership a general definition because many authors have tried without reaching a consensus.

“Our images of leadership are entirely personal” wrote Georgiades and Macdonell (1998).
In terms of management, Robbins and DeCenzo (2005) referred to leadership as influencing others and possessing managerial authority.
“Leadership is interpersonal influence, exercised in a situation, and directed, through the communication process, toward the attainment of a specified goal or goals.” Tannenbaum et al. (1961, p.24)

Mullins(2005) said “Today, leadership is increasingly associated not with command and control but with the concept of inspiration, of getting along with other people ands creating a vision with which others can identify.”

“Good leadership involves the effective process of delegation and empowerment. The leadership relationship is not limited to leader behaviour resulting in subordinate behaviour”. Mullins (2005, p.282)

Leadership is persuasion, not domination; persons who can require others to do their bidding because of their power are not leaders. Leadership only occurs when others willingly adopt, for a period of time, the goals of a group as their own. Thus, leadership concerns building cohesive and goal-oriented teams; there is a causal and definitional link between leadership and team performance.

There are countless definitions of leadership and still no general conclusion.
This work would not be focusing on definitions of leadership but rather would be taking a critical look at some of the different approaches and theories of leadership. More focus would be on the trait and behavioural approaches and how they have fared with reference to their relevance. (Hogan 1994)

The work would also explore the successful current views about good leadership and give and attempt to give an overall evaluation.
According to Mullins (2005, p.285) one way is to examine managerial leadership in terms of
The qualities of traits approach;
The functional or group approach, including action-centred leadership;
Leadership as a behavioural category;
Styles of leadership;
The situational approach and contingency models;
Transitional or transformational leadership; and
Inspirational leadership.
This section of the report would primarily focus on the trait theory to leadership.
According to Mullins (2005, p.286), “the trait approach assumes that leaders are born and not made. He further stated that leadership consists of certain inherited characteristics, or personality traits, which distinguish leaders from their followers”.

In agreement, Luthans F(2008, p.414) suggested that the trait approach is concerned mainly with identifying the personal traits of the leader. Georgiades and Macdonell (1998, p.80) noted that despite its poor scientific validity, it is probably the most frequently used method of identifying leaders.

Leadership traits don’t operate singly to influence followers, but act in combination (Gibson et al, 2003)
A host of different traits were examined by researchers, the bulk falls into three main groups, physical traits such as physique, height and appearance; abilities, such as intelligence, fluency of speech; and personality characteristics, such as conservatism, introversion-extroversion and self confidence. (Clegg et al)

Research carried out by Stogdill in his handbook of leadership (1974 cited in Geogiades and Macdonell 1998) concluded that the average leader tends to be superior to the average follower in the following ways;

Intelligence (but not significantly so).
Levels of achievement and knowledge (this does not necessarily mean education, although there is a strong correlation).
Dependability in exercising responsibility (leaders take tasks more seriously and they demonstrate a sense of personal responsibility).
Activity level (leaders tend to have the stamina to go on longer without fatigue).
A capacity to promote the involvement of other people
A slightly higher socio-economic status (although it is impossible to tell whether this is a condition or a consequence of success).
A greater sense of fun and use of humour!
The table below lists the main leadership traits and skills identified by Stogdill (1974. cited in Bolden R et al (2003)
– Adaptable to situations
– Alert to social environment
– Ambitious and achievement-orientated
– Assertive
– Cooperative
– Decisive
– Dependable
– Dominant (desire to influence others)
– Energetic (high activity level)
– Persistent
– Self-confident
– Tolerant of stress
– Willing to assume responsibility
– Clever (intelligent)

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