Limitation of Trait Theory

12233 Words Mar 13th, 2012 49 Pages
Leadership can be defined as a process by which one individual influences others toward the attainment of group or organizational goals. Three points about the definition of leadership should be emphasized. First, leadership is a social influence process. Leadership cannot exist without a leader and one or more followers. Second, leadership elicits voluntary action on the part of followers. The voluntary nature of compliance separates leadership from other types of influence based on formal authority. Finally, leadership results in followers' behavior that is purposeful and goal-directed in some sort of organized setting. Many, although not all, studies of leadership focus on the nature of leadership in the workplace.
Leadership should be
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First, measurement theory at the time was not highly sophisticated. Little was known about the psychometric properties of the measures used to operationalize traits. As a result, different studies were likely to use different measures to assess the same construct, which made it very difficult to replicate findings. In addition, many of the trait studies relied on samples of teenagers or lower-level managers.
Early trait research was largely atheoretical, offering no explanations for the proposed relationship between individual characteristics and leadership.
Finally, early trait research did not consider the impact of situational variables that might moderate the relationship between leader traits and measures of leader effectiveness. As a result of the lack of consistent findings linking individual traits to leadership effectiveness, empirical studies of leader traits were largely abandoned in the 1950s.
LEADER BEHAVIOR APPROACH.
Partially as a result of the disenchantment with the trait approach to leadership that occurred by the beginning of the 1950s, the focus of leadership research shifted away from leader traits to leader behaviors. The premise of this stream of research was that the behaviors exhibited by leaders are more important than their physical, mental, or emotional traits. The two most famous behavioral leadership studies took place at Ohio State University and the University of Michigan in