Anda di halaman 1dari 21



Daniel Dass A/L Robert Nesakumar


MGT 4236



Leadership In Organizations



Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lee Kar Ling



May 2016


11 July 2016



Students declaration:
I understand what is meant by plagiarism. I declare that this is my own work except where due references
are made.

I hereby certify that no part of this assignment or product has been copied from any other students work
or from any other source except where due acknowledgement is made in the assignment.

I am aware that this work may be reproduced and submitted to plagiarism detection software programs
(Turnitin) for the purpose of detecting possible plagiarism (which may retain a copy on its database for
future plagiarism checking.

I am holding a copy of this assignment which we can produce if the original is lost or damaged.

Signature ________________________

Lecturer has, and may exercise, the right not to mark this coursework if the above declaration has not
been signed. If the above declaration is found to be false, appropriate action will be taken which would
lead to ZERO mark being awarded for this coursework.


Markers comments

Late submission


Extension Granted



Final Marks

Coursework 2: Individual Assignment



Evaluation Criteria for Individual Assignment

Mark [%]

Suitability of the topic selected and scope of content (including

definition of terms, and depth & breadth of secondary research)

/ 40

Quality of analysis, including business applications, limitations

and reflections on lessons learned

/ 40

Citations and referencing

/ 10

Presentation, quality of writing, and structure of the


/ 10




1) Definition and Explanation

Why is leadership important to an organization?

Researchers usually define leadership based on their individual perspectives and the attributes
that are interesting to them. After a detailed review of the leadership literature, (Stogdill,
1974) says that there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who
have attempted to define the concept. The operational definition of leadership depends on
the purpose of the researcher (Campbell, 1977) which could be to identify leaders, to
determine how they are selected, to discover what they do, to discover why they are effective,
or to determine whether they are necessary. (Yukl, 2013) identifies leadership as a process of
influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how to do it, and
the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish shared objectives.
However, it is obvious that from the previously mentioned definitions that at the definitional
level, leadership is understood to encompass certain attitudes of the leader, who motivates the
followers to accomplish certain goals in which the leaders power is codified by the followers
(Bass, 1990 & Stogdill, 1997), and the leader helps influences others by providing them with
hope, establishing their desires, inspiring their self-efficacy, and consistently following a set
of personal values (Zaleznik, 1998; George and Sims, 2007). People pursue a leader for a
number of positive reasons such as trust in the leader, hope of success, excitement about a
project, or the chance to push oneself to the limit (Maccoby, 2000). However, there are a

number of moderating aspects that determine the effectiveness of leadership such as the
situation, followers adaptability to change, organizational context, leader-follower fit
(Fiedler 1967; Gardner et. al. 2005). Bass (1990) states that leadership is a mechanism that
involves motivation, vision and actions of the leader that allows the followers to accomplish
certain collective goals and the function of leadership is to administer direction and bring
about change.
I have chosen the trait theory because I can relate to parts of the theory. This theory certainly
has its flaws in which it does not have concrete proof to show that leaders are born. However,
I belief that some leaders are born with certain traits which make them stand out from the
other leaders. Although this does not qualify them to be considered as born leaders, it
certainly makes that better than other common leaders.
Despite its drawbacks, the trait approach presents prized information about leadership. It can
be applied by individuals at all levels and in all types of organizations. Although this theory
does not provide a precise set of traits, it certainly does provide direction regarding which
traits are good to have if one yearns for a leadership position. Managers can use information
from the trait approach to determine where they stand in their organization and what they
need to change in order to solidify their position. Trait information can recommend areas in
which their personal characteristics are very profitable to the company and areas in which
they may want to get more training to strengthen their overall approach. Using trait
information, managers can establish a broader understanding of who they are and how they
can influence others in the organization.

2) Theoretical Arguments


The trait theory of leadership according to (Northouse, 2007) has had an extensive amount of
research compiled which no other theory can equal while the strength and longevity of these
research provides the trait approach a measure of credibility that other theories dont possess;
from the various research conducted on the trait theory, this approach concludes that the trait
theory focuses on the leader, not the follower or the situation and this causes this theory to be
more direct than other theories like the leader-member exchanges (LMX) theory or
situational leadership theory; essentially, this theory focuses on what traits display and who
has those traits but it does not lay out a set of principles about what type of leader is required
in a particular situation or what a leader should do in a particular set of circumstances;
however this approach states that having a leader with a unique set of traits is crucial to
executing a successful leadership approach.
The trait theory has garnered much interest among researches for its explanation of how traits
affect leadership (Bryman, 1992). Similarly, (Kirkpatrick and Locker, 1991) went so far to
claim that effective leaders are distinct types of people in several key respects. However,
despite the many variations that this theory has received, there have been several identifiable
strengths which (Northouse, 2013) addresses; first the trait approach is intuitively appealing

and it perfectly fits the notion that leaders are the individuals who are out front and leading
the way in society; the image that are portrayed in the press and community in reference to
leaders are that they are a special kind of people (people with the ability to do extraordinary
things) and this approach is consistent with this perception because it is built on the premise
that leaders are different, and their difference resides in the special traits they possess.
Leadership is one of the most discussed topics in the social sciences with researches such as
(Avolio, Sosik, Jung, & Berson, 2003; Bass, 1990; Bennis, 2007) and their research on
leadership started with a search for inborn attributes that seperated leaders from non-leaders
and explained individuals capabilities as leaders (Galton & Eysenck, 1869). The second
positive point of the trait approach according to (Northouse, 2013) is that it has a vast length
of research to back it up and that no other leadership theory can brag of the breadth and depth
of studies that has been conducted on the trait approach while the strength and endurance of
this line of research gives the trait approach a measure of credibility that other approaches fall
short of and this plethora of research has surfaced a body of data that points to the crucial role
of various personality traits in the leadership process.
Thomas Carlyle, a renowned historian had a primary importance towards the beginnings of
this theory of leadership, and at one point he stated that, "The history of the world is but the
biography of great men" and according to (Carlyle, 1888), effective leaders are those gifted
with divine inspiration and the right characteristics. Another strength according to
(Northouse, 2013) is more conceptual in nature, it develops from the way the trait approach
features the leader component in the leadership process; leadership is encompasses of leaders,
followers, and situations, however the trait approach is concerned to only the first of these
leaders and although this being a possible weakness, by highlighting the role of the leader in
leadership, the trait approach has been able to provide a much deeper and more complicated

perspective of how the leader and the their personality are associated to the leadership
(Stogdill, 1948) states that "a person does not become a leader by virtue of the possession of
some combination of traits and he concludes this because the research proves that no traits
were universally correlated with effective leadership and that situational factors were also
important. However, according to (Northouse, 2013) he says the trait approach has provided
some benchmarks for what we need to look for if we aspire to be leaders and it determines
what traits we should have and whether the traits we do have are the best traits for leadership;
based on the data of this approach, personality and assessment procedures can be used to
offer valuable information to supervisors and managers about their strengths and weaknesses
and methods to upgrade their overall leadership effectiveness.


Despite its several strengths, the trait approach also has several weaknesses. The first and
foremost is the inability of the trait approach to limit a definitive list of leadership traits.
Although a huge number of studies have been done over the past century, the data from these
studies have been questionable and uncertain at times. Furthermore, the list of traits that keep
appearing seem endless.
Another negative point is that the trait approach has fallen short of is to take situations into
consideration and as Stogdill (1948) said half a century ago, it is hard to disengage a set of
traits that are attributes of leaders without also considering situational effects into the
equation because people who own certain traits that enable them to become leaders in one
situation may not be applicable in others and while some people may possess the traits that
help them appear as leaders but not the traits that permits them to cultivate their leadership
over time; in other words, the situation affects leadership and it is therefore challenging to
identify a universal set of leadership traits in solitude from the context in which the
leadership takes place.
A third criticism, deviced from the prior two criticisms, is that this method has produced a
highly subjective determinations of the most important leadership traits according to
(Northouse, 2013) because the data on traits have been so major and immense, there has been
much subjective perception of the meaning of the data and this subjectivity is easily obtained

in most self-help, practice-oriented management books; for example, an author might set
ambitions and creativity as critical leadership traits while another might create empathy and
calmness; however, in both cases, it is the authors understanding and perception that are the
backbone for the identified leadership traits and these books may be helpful to readers
because they determine and interpret important leadership traits, but the technique used to
develop these lists of traits are weak and to answer to peoples need for a set of reliable traits
of leaders, authors have introduced lists of traits, even if the root of these lists are not
grounded in strong, concrete research.

Serious work has been completed by (Sheldon, 1942; Stogdill, 1948; Jennings, 1960; Lester,
1974; and Bass, 1981) in studying of traits theory of leadership in which its focal points are
on leaders being born into their role; research on traits has also be condemned for failing to
review at traits in relationship to leadership outcomes because these researchs has underlined
the identification of traits, but has not marked how leadership traits affect group members and
their work and in trying to verify universal leadership traits, researchers have fixated on the
link between distinct traits and leader emergence, but they have not tried to associate leader
traits with other results such as productivity or employee satisfaction; for instance, trait
research does not give data on whether leaders who might have high intelligence and strong
integrity have better results compared to leaders without these traits and the trait approach is
uncertain in describing how leaders traits influence the results of groups and teams in
organizational settings.
The final criticism towards the trait approach according to (Northouse, 2013) is that it is not a
suitable way for training and development for leadership and even if specific traits could be
established, teaching new traits would not be an easy process because traits are hard to chang;
for example, it is unreasonable to dispatch managers to a training program to raise their IQ

level or to develop them to become extroverted but the point is that traits have largely fixed
psychological structures, and it restricts the value of teaching and leadership training.

Ever since the term leadership came into recognition, the way leadership is practiced has
changed over time, but the need for leaders and leaderships has not (Bass, 1990; Kouzes and
Posner, 1995). According to (Clark & Clark, 1990), the theoretical definition of leadership
has experienced significant changes over times and in a lot of ways, the basic functions of
leadership such as decision making, providing direction, communicating, establishing goals,
and resolving conflict still remains to this very day.
Understanding the historical development of these leadership theories would help provide
some valuable perspectives as well as context within which it would leaders value the
increasing interest in leadership growth (Bennis, 1976). The historical beginnings towards the
study of leadership can be traced to Galtons Great Man theory (Clark & Clark, 1990) in
which battlefield heroes, people born into royalty, and other successful individual were
thought to have unique abilities and talents which made them stand out from the common
population and also helped them achieve success.
Following the foundation of the Great Man theory, it subsequently evolved and gave rise to
the trait theory (Bennis, 1976) which primary focus was on identifying traits that made
leaders uniquely stand out from other individuals; this theory did not have concrete evidence
to back itself up because for the most part of the theory, it assumes that leaders possessed
unique characteristics which enabled them to become leaders; and this is among the primary
reasons why this theory has been criticized as it did not include the different circumstances
that the leaders would faces nor the difference in the types of individuals that were being led.

(Hollander & Offermann, 1990) says that there was also no attempt made to measure the
leaders performance for the trait theory.
Due to lack of concrete proof that the trait theory provided, researchers switched their
concentration from who a leader was to what leaders did that made them leader; with this
they attempted to identify leader behaviors (Sashkin & Burke, 1990). This formed the
behavioral theory in which researchers focused specifically on the task that good leaders do
and draw conclusions between their leadership behaviors and specific behaviors (Yukl, 2002).
According to (Gordon, & Taber, 2002), these research helped identify two separate
dimensions of leadership behaviors in which one study focuses on the task while the other
focuses on the people. In this theory, the leaders behavior concentrates on goal achievement
or job accomplishment and these leaders would display concerns on production, directive
leadership and initiate structure and supervision; the focus on people dimension would help
leaders display concern of people, focus on how individuals feel, offer supportive leadership
and make efforts to lessen stress; often leaders display these behaviors in order to ensure of
satisfaction among group members, retain the social stability of the group or facilitate the
development and maintenance of harmonious relations in the work place.

3) Quality of Analyses

Business Application

(Nelson Mandela vs Martin Luther King, Jr.)

The trait theory was first established during the mid-century when a theorist, Ralph Stogdill,
complete a detailed review of the literature and concluded that "A person cannot become a
leader by virtue of the possession of some combination of traits (Stogdill, 1948) and he was
led to believe this because the data displayed that no traits were associated with effective
leadership and that situational factors were also influential. According to (Kirkpatrick et. al.,
1991) characteristics alone, however, are not enough for successful business leadership, they
are only a requirement for which leaders who own the requisite traits must take certain
actions to be successful (e.g. formulating a vision, role modelling, setting goals) and
possessing the appropriate traits only makes it more likely that such actions will be taken and
be successful.
(Bass, 1990) states that there are six characteristics on which leaders differ from non-leaders
which include: drive, the desire to lead, honesty/integrity, self-confidence, cognitive ability,
and knowledge of the business.
Drive is different in comparison physical need for deprivation. This term refers

to a number of traits and impulse showing a high effort level. There are five
major aspects of drive which include ambition, motivation and achievement,
tenacity, energy, and initiative.
This comprises the need to control and lead others and is often similar with the

need for power. People who possess high leadership motivation are focused on
influencing other people, being victorious in an argument, or being the greater
Honesty and

authority. They like to be in a leadership role rather than a subordinate role.

These are virtues in all individuals, but it plays a special role for leaders. When

these qualities are not present, leadership is under looked. Integrity is the link
between word and deed while honesty refers to displaying honesty. The two

form the base of a trusting relationship between a leader and their followers.
Successful leaders are often open with their followers, but also on occasions
discreet and do not violate confidences or carelessly blurt out personal
Having self-confidence is a very vital attribute to being a successful leader.
Constantly a number of problems needs solving. Need to be able to trust the
leader in order to take courses of action. Competing interests have to be

fulfilled. Risks have to be taken in the face of confusion. A person marred with
self-doubt would not be able to take the necessary actions nor earn the respect of
others. Self-confidence plays a vital role in decision-making and in obtaining
others' trust.
Leaders must gather, integrate, and interpret enormous amounts of information.
At this present day, demands are greater because of immense technological
change. Thus, it is obvious that leaders need to be smart enough to create
suitable strategies, solve problems, and make good decisions.
Effective leaders are required to have a high level of expertise about the
company, industry, and technical matters. Technical expertise allows the leader
Knowledge of
to perceive the affairs of their subordinates in regards to technical issues.
the Business
Effective leaders gather detailed knowledge about the company and its industry.
Detailed knowledge of the organization and industry enables effective leaders to
make good decisions and to understand the effects of those decisions.

(Bass, 1990)

Leadership skills were once thought to be a matter of birth: leaders were born, not made
(Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1996); this is evidently true when we look at leaders like Nelson
Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. According to (Bass, 1990), drive is a quality which
helps motivate leaders to achieve a specific set of goals; for example, Nelson Mandela spent

the most part of his young life fighting for the freedom of South Africas black and colored
population from oppression imposed by the minority government whilst Martin Luther King,
Jr. fought for the civil rights of black Americans in hope of seeing an America where black
and white citizens were truly equal. (Kouzes and Posner, 1987) states that leaders have been
characterized as "electric, vigorous, active, and full of life" as well as possessing the
"physical vitality to maintain a steadily productive work pace which are traits possessed by
these two leaders; they both had set their objectives to eliminate the discrimination amongst
the black people and their works have a significant impact in todays world. According to
(Bass, 1990), leaders must be tirelessly persistent in their activities and follow through with
their programs; in 1962, Nelson Mandela was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow
the state, and was sentenced to life imprisonment; but 27 years into his prison sentence, he
was released and eventually became the President of South Africa while Martin Luther King,
Jr. was arrested 30 times for this civil rights activities but this did not stop him from pursuing
his intended goal.
Next, according to (Bennis and Nanus, 1985), a leader must want to gain the power to
exercise influence over others; although Nelson Mandela was thrown in prison for 27 years,
the influence he had on people during his fight for freedom left an indelible mark on his
followers which eventually helped him become the President of South Africa; this was also
similar with Martin Luther King, Jr.s I have a dream speech which took place on August
28, 1963 at Washington D.C. in which there was an estimated 250,000 people and out of that
number around 60,000 were whites of whom most had never heard him speak publicly
(Bass, 1990) states that successful leaders are open with their followers, but also discreet and
do not violate confidences or carelessly divulge potentially harmful information; among the
traits of both these leaders, honesty and integrity played a crucial role in them achieving their

success, for example, one of King's many biographers, Jonathan Rieder, remarked that King
"had an uncommon ability to glide in and out of black, white, and other idioms and identities
in an elaborate dance of empathy; this shows that King was very direct and honest in his
approach but also some of this words had a hidden meaning and whilst for Nelson Mandela
he was often referred to as being a honest politician who was skilled at exerting power but
not obsessed with it.
Next, self-confidence is necessary for leaders to take risks and accomplish high goals because
leaders who are self-confident tend to deal immediately and directly with problems and
conflicts, rather than procrastinating, ignoring, or passing problems to others (Chance and
Chance, 2002); self-confidence was abundantly available within both these leaders whom
despite the negativity and the rejection they critically received, pushed forward to achieve
what they had started and eventually ended up succeeding; King at a young age was very
active in his church and became a Baptist minister before his activist work began and at
school he was known for his public speaking skills and was part of the schools debate team
which evidently are factors which helped build up his confidence whilst Nelson Mandela
credits his achieved self-confidence to his secondary school education which helped him
during his fight in a harsh and discriminating community.
According to (Kirkpatrick and Locke, 1991) leaders must gather, integrate, and interpret
enormous amounts of information because these demands are greater than ever today because
of rapid technological change and it is not surprising that leaders need to be intelligent
enough to formulate suitable strategies, solve problems, and make correct decisions; both
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela had a unique intellectual level that allowed them
to thrive and succeed in an environment that most couldnt; they both knew how to motivate
and use the oppressed citizens to support their cause and did so perfectly.

Finally, (Bass, 1990) states that effective leaders have a high degree of knowledge about the
company, industry, and technical matters and their technical expertise enables the leader to
understand the concerns of subordinates regarding technical issues; both King and Mandela
was clear on the task they were pursuing and this helped aid them in successfully achieving
their objectives; also since they were operating within their own country, this granted them a
better knowledge over the people and better understanding of the local culture but it also
wasnt a walk in the park either.


(Komiski, 2013) states that it is relatively easy to notice that even very experienced, wellknown and reputable leaders undertake irrational behaviors because they are experiencing a
number of limitations that prevent these leaders from choosing their preferred solutions;
ethical limitations, cultural limitations, emotional limitations, motivational limitations and
information limitations are the factors that could possibly contribute to difficulty when
applying this theory in the workplace.
(Corbett, 2004; Veiga, 2004) both states that ethical limitations indicate that a leader is not
able to act accordingly to ethical values due to certain pertaining situations which dont allow
them to; the trait approach focuses on the leader using their unique traits to help them operate
within the business world; however, this is not so easily done because certain trait requires a

leader to take different approaches which may be considered unethical by some parties; for
example, a leader who strives in high pressure situations would on occasions choose to make
a risky decision which would be consider unethical by many.
According to (Schein; 1990, 2006), culture is the most difficult issue to change in an
organization and leaders have a great role in creating the organizational culture; however,
when they instill some cultural norms among their subordinates, it is very likely that these
norms will be related to leadership limitations in the future; the trait theorys approach
focuses on born leaders and in an organization, most other leaders would be made leaders;
agreeing and participating in the same organization culture would not be easy as born leaders
and made leaders dont share similar traits.
The role of emotions in leadership has been rarely considered in leadership literature and this
is not surprising as many scholars have indicated that emotions are related to irrational
behavior and decision making (Albrow, 1992; Baumeister et al., 2007). Emotions can be
defined as high intensity feelings that are triggered by either internal or external stimuli and
interrupt cognitive behaviors and processes (Simon, 1982; Forgas, 1992); similar to the other
limitations, emotional limitations play a role in the trait theory because when basing a
leaders quality based on traits, a born leader may be mentally stronger than a made leader
because their unique traits may give them an edge in this harsh business environment.
Some leadership scholars have stated if there is one trait that all successful leaders have, it is
motivation (Goleman, 2003); however in todays business world, it is not about leaders
motivating their subordinates but about motivating themselves; primarily fresh MBA
graduates are affected because they are forced to take up positions that would enable them to
pay back their study loans; thus, regardless of their traits, money automatically becomes their

source of motivation and if they are unable to find a balance, they may end up not as
successful as they would have hoped for.
A few decades ago, some successful leaders collected information about the organization and
their employees while walking the hallways (Mintzberg, 1973; Kotter, 1990; Eccles and
Nohria, 1991); however in todays business world, technology has become the primary focus
of most organization and for leaders whose primary trait is in their communicative ability, it
would certainly be difficult for them, unless they are able to adapt to the changes.


On a personal level, this assignment has be a stepping stone in helping me understand the true
and proper way to complete an assignment with the necessary citations and references. As
this was the first assignment I have completed in such a manner, it did not pan out as I would
have liked it to. However, this assignment has granted me the knowledge on how to research
a topic in detail and input the correct information on paper. Having gained the knowledge of
how to link theories and topics into a single sentence will be an advantage which I will be
able to apply in the future.

Moving on to the assignment topic, I greatly benefitted from this assignment because the
topic that I choose to start with was the leadership trait theory. Although through this theory,
many claims have be made saying leaders are born, not made. It is a highly debatable topic
as the other theories can put a false claim on this theory. Personally, I chose this theory
because to begin with, it is among the earliest known leadership theories available which
stated out with the great-man theory and evolved into the trait theory with added details.
Moreover, on a certain level, I can relate to this theory because although I believe that leaders
can be molded, there are some leaders who are born to change this world. They have that
certain something that cannot be taught or replicated, regardless of how tiny it may be
because sometimes the smallest detail can make the biggest difference.
Putting aside the assignment, this subject Leadership in Organizations has had such a
unique impact on me since I started learning it. This subject has allowed me to understand the
business world better and I am certain that it will be an advantage to me if Im able to use it
in the proper manner. As a student, all I can say is Thank You.
4) References

a) Baron, D. (1999). Moses on management: 50 leadership lessons from the greatest

manager of all time. New York: Pocket Books
b) Bass B.M., (1990) B.M. Bass's Handboook of Leadership, New York: The Free Press
c) Bennis W., B. Nanus, (1985) Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge, New York,
Harper & Row
d) Bennis WG. (1959). Leadership theory and administrative behavior: The problem of
authority. Boston, MA: Boston University Human Relations Center
e) Bennis WG. (2007). The challenges of leadership in the modem worldIntroduction to
the special issue. American Psychologist
f) Gabarro J, (1987) The Dynamics of Taking Charge, Boston, Harvard Business School
Press Kirkpatrick et. al.,(1991) Leadership do traits matter, The executive,

g) Hirsh, S. K., & Kummerow, J. M. (1990). Introduction to type in organizations, second

ed. Mountain View, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc
h) Judge TA, Bono JE. (2000). Five-factor model of personality and transformational
leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology
i) Judge TA, Bono JE, Ilies R, Gerhardt MW. (2002). Personality and leadership: A
qualitative and quantitative review. Journal of Applied Psychology
j) Kouzes J.M., Posner B.Z., The Leadership Challenge: How to Get Things Done in
k) Lord RG. (1985). An information processing approach to social perceptions, leadership
perceptions, and behavioral measurement in organizational settings. In Staw BM,
Cummings LL (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior
l) Maccoby, M. (1979). Leadership needs of the 1980s. Current issues in higher education,
2, 17-23
m) Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership Theory and Practice.
n) Stogdill, R.M. (1948). "Personal Factors Associated with Leadership: A Survey of the
Literature," Journal of Psychology, 1948 Tagger, S., Hackett, R., Saha, S. (1999).
Leadership emergence in autonomous work teams: Antecedents and outcomes. Personnel
o) Stogdill, R., & Bass, B. (1981). Stogdills handbook of leadershipA survey of theory
and research. New York: The Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan Publishers
p) Yukl G. (1989). Managerial leadership: A review of theory and research. Journal of
q) Yukl G. (2006). Leadership in organizations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.