Example Of Research Paper On Leadership Trait

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Leadership, Education, Study, Trait, Students, Skills, Psychology, Training

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/12/11

Abstract

Leadership traits are what distinguish effective leadership from ordinary leadership. The study aimed at assessing the effectiveness and successfulness of the leadership training program in cultivating student leadership characteristics. Based upon previous research carried out psychologists such as Cowley (1931), this study is guided by the hypothesis a significant growth on specific leadership traits would indicate growth in leadership skills hence successfulness of the program. The students (emerging leaders) were studied to determine whether they possessed certain characteristics that contributed to them being emerging leaders. Twenty eight students were chosen to participate in the pretest-posttest experiment. The pretest took place on Jan 31st 2015 while the posttest took place on 7th March 2015. The participants were each provided with a leadership trait questionnaire (LTQ) and were asked to fill out the Likert-Scale form on which traits they identified they grew most in. Fourteen characteristics were measured by the group to determine whether or not the students rated highly on certain traits. The results of the study would indicate a highly rated trait hence indicating that the program was successful in churning out effective leaders. Unexpectedly, the results of the study indicated that there was no growth in a majority of the leadership traits among the students hence indicating the program was ineffective in cultivating the student’s leadership characteristics. Upon further discussions, we found out that the lack of seriousness of the students in taking the survey and not conducting the post-test on the day the leadership program ended might be the reasons behind the inconsistencies of the results. We suggest the need for clarifying to the participants on the need and seriousness of the survey and the conduction of the post-test on the very end of the leadership training program in future studies.
Keywords: Leadership trait, Likert-Scale, Leadership training program, LTQ

Introduction

Thomas Carlyle (1907), a great Victorian era historian once commented that the “world’s history was the life story of great men” Under the great man hypothesis, it is assumed that history has been shaped by the forces of effective leadership. This is the same hypothesis that gave rise to the leadership trait theory. Just like the great man theory, the leadership trait theory assumes that leadership depends on salient personal traits and attributes of the leader. The theoretical focus of this particular study is based on the assumption that leaders are made when a group of individuals work towards achieving a certain set of qualities and behaviors, and also consider the prevailing circumstances and their followers at hand. The study aimed to reveal the important fact that leaders can be able to put into use their acquired skills, traits and behaviors in the positive way with a significant amount of success. Many theorists have studied the link between traits and effective leadership. Cowley (1931) gave a well-researched summary of the trait view of leadership by stating that the best method to study leadership has always been and perhaps must always be via the study of traits.”
The topic of leadership is one of the most hotly contested and debated topic among the social sciences (Avolio, Sosik, Jung &Berson, 2003). Early research on leadership focused on the heritable attributes that clearly distinguished the leaders from the non-leaders and the explanation of individual effectiveness as leaders. To this effect, this early research was the first step towards the of the leadership trait paradigm. Subsequent and current research has established that individual characteristics that include personality traits, skills and abilities and even demographics predict leadership effectiveness and leadership skill (Judge, Colbert & Illies, 2004; Mumford, Campion & Morgeson, 2006). Reflecting on the shift from traits being heritable and innate qualities, a leadership trait can be defined as a relatively coherent and integrated pattern of personal traits and characteristics that mirror a wide range of individual differences and cultivate consistent leadership effectiveness (Zaccaro, 2007). In an explanation to the leadership trait theory, House & Aditya (1997) affirmed that, “a large number of personal attributes and characteristics are studied which include gender, appearance, height, psychological traits and motives.” In reviewing the leadership traits responsible for effective leadership, Bass (1990) proposed two questions that included: 1). which particular traits distinguish leaders from the ordinary people, and 2). what is the extent of those particular differences. With respect to the first question, many traits have been examined mostly those related to demographics. With regards to the second question, it is unfortunate that there is little research. Researches by trait theorists have always revealed a number of characteristics that are believed to be important to successful leadership. Many of these characteristics have included behaviors, skills and other traits related to intellectual ability among many others. Common characteristics have included self-confidence, creativity, empathy, motivation, perseverance and assertiveness
Most of the empirical researches on the work of the leadership trait theory focused on the systematic investigation on the differences between leaders and followers. Upon further research, some traits have been found to distinguish the leaders from the followers. Leaders tend to be slightly higher on the traits such as self-confidence, intelligence, dominance, adjustment, intelligence and extraversion among other traits. Despite a huge body of research related to the personality traits of leadership, the results of such studies have always been inconsistent and most of the times disappointing. Reviews of literature on the same topic have revealed that the leadership trait approach has fallen out of favor among many leadership researchers. As they noted in their research, Zaccaro, Foti & Kenny (1991) explained that “the leadership trait explanations of leadership are at the moment being regarded with little esteem by leadership researchers and theorists”
The study of leadership traits itself has a long and a rather controversial history. While a huge body of research indicates that the possession of certain personality traits and attributes alone does not guarantee leadership success, there is a huge consensus that effective leaders are different from the other normal leaders in certain key aspects. Some of these key leadership traits include self-confidence, empathy, friendliness, persistence, diligence, determination, self-assurance, motivation and initiative among many others. Despite the fact that traits alone cannot guarantee success in leadership, there is sufficient evidence to show that traits do matter. Some of the traits on which effective leaders differ from the non-leaders include self-confidence, drive, honesty or integrity and cognitive ability among many others.
Having considered a vast amount of literature on leadership traits, it is possible to hypothesize that a growth in leadership traits among learners in a leadership training program is an indicator of the effectiveness and the success of the program. A growth in any particular trait may result in the acquisition of a better leadership skill. We tend to believe that key leadership traits help the leaders acquire the necessary skills such as the formulation of an organizational vision and the effective pursuit of it, and the effective implementation of the vision. Embedded to this research is the assumption that traits produce certain patterns of behavior that are consistent across situations. This can be taken to mean that leadership traits are considered to be quite enduring characteristics that remain stable over the time. The twenty eight students used in this particular study were representative of the students in the leadership training program and hence able to conclude on the effectiveness and the success of the entire leadership program.

Methods

Participants
The study employed a non-probability sampling methodology. The study employed the random sampling methodology to select the participants of the study based on their attendance on that given day (the training day). Twenty eight participants were selected in total. The random sampling technique ensured that the participants were assigned the chosen instrument (leadership trait questionnaire) based on their time of arrival to the training program. This was done based on the first-come-first-serve-basis. The participants consisted of genders (men and women), different ages (middle school and high school students) and different ethnicities (Chinese and Caucasian) to eliminate any sort of selection bias and to also ensure a systematic analysis of data based on the same.

Design

Measures/Material
A number of materials and measures were necessary for the effective completion of this particular study. A leadership trait questionnaire (LTQ) was utilized to conduct this particular study. The LTQ was adopted from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) who designed it and had conducted a similar study on leadership traits and leadership skills. A Likert-Scale was also utilized to operationalize the independent variable which is the leadership trait. Participants were required to score and self-rate the leadership traits that they felt they had acquired in the program by indicating their position of feeling from a scale of one to five. The scale had listed all the leadership traits from articulate, perspective and self-confident, all the way down to sensitive and empathetic. The scale would run from one, which indicated strongly disagree all the way to five, which indicated strongly agree. A score of three indicated a neutral score. Each leadership trait was followed by the numbers one to five which the participants were to choose. These scales were designed in such a way that they were self-administered. A specific amount of time was allocated (twenty minutes) to complete the LTQ. The questionnaire had elaborate instructions on top of it, indicating its purpose and what was require of the participants in the study.

Procedure

This particular study followed a procedure that guided it from the start all through to the end. As required, the first process was to ensure that we had sought the informed consent of all the participants in the study. We provided each of the participants with the consent form in order to make sure the participants were well aware of what we were intending to do and what would be required of them. The participants were also told that participation in the study was voluntary and each one of them was free to leave the study at any time he or she wanted leave. This was done to avoid forcing the students into participating in the study. The first step involved identifying the study sample that was going to form part of the participants in the study. This involved selecting the students who were present on that training day for the pre-test. All students were require to have settled down and provided with the questionnaires right at the end of the first session of training.
Secondly, we had to carry out demonstrations on the board to ensure that everyone had an idea on how scoring was going to be done. Thereafter, the questionnaires were administered to the students at the same time and were told to read the instructions atop of it. The participants were then allocated 15 minutes to fill out the questionnaire and complete the Likert-Scale indicating which leadership trait they felt they had developed greatly and those ones that they felt they had least developed in. The experiment would finally come to an end when the allocated time (15 minutes) elapsed and each of the participants had completely filled the scale. After completion of the Likert-Scale, the participants would be debriefed and given an opportunity to ask any questions or seek clarifications regarding the study. At this stage, the participants would be informed that the purpose of the study has been to establish the link between leadership characteristic and leadership expertise, and also to assess the effectiveness of the leadership training program the organization was offering. For their participation in the study, each of the participants would be provided with refreshment. A posttest experiment would be carried out on March 7th 2015 to further assess and evaluate the effectiveness of the leadership program. The same students who took part in the pre-test will be trained and given questionnaires which they would be required to fill. It is expected that the students will grow on different leadership skills.

References

Avolio BJ, Sosik JJ, Jung DI, Berson Y. (2003). Leadership models, methods, and applications:Small steps and giant leaps. In Borman WC, Klimoski R, Ilgen DR,Weiner B (Eds.), Handbook of psychology (Vol. 12, pp. 277–307). New York, NY: JohnWiley& Sons.
Carlyle, T. (1907). On heroes, hero-worship, and the heroic in history. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Cowley, W. H. (1931). Three distinctions in the study of leaders. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 26, 304–313.
House, R. J., & Aditya, R. N. (1997). The social scientific study of leadership: Quo
vadis? Journal of Management, 23(3), 409-473.
Judge T.A, Colbert A.E, Ilies R. (2004). Intelligence and leadership: A quantitative review and test of theoretical propositions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 542–552.
Mumford T.V, Campion M.A, Morgeson F.P. (2007). The leadership skills strataplex: Leadership skill requirements across organizational levels. Leadership Quarterly, 18, 154–166.
Wall, M. (1998) The Leadership Trait Questionnaire as a measure of Personality Traits of Emergent Leaders in the Organisation. Undergraduate thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.
Zaccaro, S. J. (January 01, 2007). Trait-Based Perspectives of Leadership. American Psychologist, 62, 1, 6-16.
Zaccaro, S. J., Foti, R. J., & Kenny, D. A. (1991). Self-monitoring andtrait-based variance in leadership: An investigation of leader flexibilityacross multiple group situations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76,308–315.

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