TRAITS: The Journey from Will to Power to Will to Serve
The Leadership Box ã David Boje, December 7, 2000; Revised August 26, 2003
KEY TO LINKS on this web page:STORYLINE
The Myers-Briggs Trait Approach to Leadership Machiavelli - Great man theory Stogdill 1948 Stogdill 1974 Dialectic Critique of Trait theory McGregor 1960 Theory X Y McClelland 1965 Stories Katz 1955 Skill Taxonomy Yukl 1989 Flanagan 1951 Critical Incidents; Boyatzis 1982 Bennis 2000 - 10 traits of dynamic leaders
BACK TO UNIVERSALS
Jungian Archetypes and Myers-Briggs types Servant Sprit Trust Principle-Centered The Myers-Briggs Trait Approach to Leadership More Critique
Problems with Traits
STORYLINE OF LEADER TRAITS
Once upon a time,
Machiavelli looked at the warring nation states in Renaissance Italy and decided that Princes were either great or not so great leaders. He believed that great men changed and wrote history with a WILL TO POWER. He admired the cunning Caesar, and the Borgia. The trait Machiavelli advised was fraud that manipulates desires to achieve some valued end (think Enron, Worldcom, Global Crossing). This is one of many traits.
Trait theory explains leadership in terms of personality and character of the leader. Early in the 20th Century, leaders were said to be POWERFUL, taller, stronger, more intelligence and self-confident. Then, Sir Stogdill in 1948 reviewed all the Trait studies of the first half century. He concluded that the idea that leaders had universal and unique traits different from non-leaders was quite absurd. The Academy of Leader Professors wanting to get tenure, fame, and fortune decided that a new theory of leadership must be found or all their jobs would be as extinct as dinosaurs. Corporate money flowed into the university ivory tower, but only to fund a tamer, less powerful leadership; a bureaucratic cage was put around the leader traits.
Time passed... bureaucracy became too boring to consider, and traits, there were way to many, and having this one or that other one did not correlate with performance. So the Leader Professors sailed to the island of Situation, not because they distrusted the bureaucratic cage, but to escape the Myers-Briggs trait theory of personality types. The situations believe leaders are chameleons, they change their colors (behaviors) to suit the situation. All but the Industrial Psychologists and high school career counselors boarded the ship, leaving the Isle of Traits to sail to the Isle of Situation; those who remained behind never much cared for the sea.
Sir Stogdill in 1974 returned from the Isle of Situation to see what the Industrial Psychologists were up to. Low and behold with a slew of new methods (lab studies, in-baskets, forced choice surveys, and value inventories) those psychologists found significant Trait correlates with leader performance. But alas it was too late, the entire Leader Academy had already settled on the Isle of Situation and were bent on restricting leadership to just the WILL TO SERVE. The hermits left behind turned to Zarathustra. It would mean a costly resettlement and changes in the mindset of the entire Academy to set sail from the Isle of Situation to the Motherland of Trait, and rediscover the WILL TO POWER in the hermit's cave.
Still there was a bigger problem. Several BUREAUCRATIC Trait theories were exceedingly popular. The Baron McGregor's Theory X and Y was all the rage (Why not just tuck it away in the iron cage). X was the autocratic strong man, obnoxious but without much power, while Y the preferred new age leader, was considerate of others, and worried about followers' development needs. You cannot find a Management textbook that does not include it or a group of students who can not recite it by rote. The popularity of the bureaucrat's X & Y meant that mangers were now using it, even though it did not work as a Trait theory. Still it did serve to resocialize the masses to appreciate WILL TO SERVE over WILL TO POWER. This meant that researchers were now discovering X's and Y's because they had taught managers to believe in the WILL TO SERVE and IRON CAGE mythos.
All was not lost. Esquire McClelland was using stories on the Isle of Trait, to identify leader Traits, and this method dovetailed with a band of misfits born on Situation Island who only heard tales of the Isle of Trait and its dead religion of Traitordom. McClelland combined the NEED FOR POWER with two more bureaucratic needs. The misfits set sail for the Isle of Culture, where storytelling, symbols, and rituals were now all the rage. They made a pact never to use the word "McClelland" and never to utter the words "NEED FOR POWER," but took to collecting leader stories, just the same.
The search for the traits defining "natural leaders" continues, spurred on by interest in leadership effectiveness (especially in the late 1970s and 1980s when the Japanese lean production machine wreaked havoc in the Leader Academy). The problem is those WILL TO POWER types keep turning up.
Duke Boyatzis, born on the Isle of Culture, set sale for Case Western, having discovered a treasure chest of Traits in 1982. The great Isle of Culture sought to transform corporate cultures, to enhance performance and leaders now serve this cause. The Duke Boyatzis dubbed the treasure, (iron cage) "competencies" and began training less than eager doctoral students to measure 9 traits that would fit leaders for the culture wars. Several seem to replicate Esquire McClelland, but also combine aspects of Sir Stogdill's lists of traits and skills. No matter, the Leader Academy could now continue its Bureaucratic WILL TO SERVE Trait research, though in reality, most of the Academy were now citizens of either the Isle of Situation or the Isle of Culture, exercising the WILL TO POWER in their daily affairs, and having no intention of taking another sea voyage to unmask WILL TO SERVE for what it is.
The methodologists invented fancier wares and the rush to rediscover WILL TO SERVE Traits was now ready to cast off. Care to join the crew?
But, the new methods could not just pour new wine into the old skins. Instead some reinvention had to take place. Princes Kouzes and Posner set about to ask people what traits they wanted in a leader. They could have asked the author of the Prince. Still the people were tired of lying presidents who made power decisions on the phone while having office sex, and celebrities who killed their wives. The public wanted leaders with credibility, trust, and even spirituality; they wanted WILL TO SERVE. Let the leaders serve the people for a change; banish those with any hint of WILL TO POWER. What is the Trait call of this millennium? You know the answer. Bishop Covey came to rally this cause. And soon the entire Leader Academy was finding spiritual traits amongst their members, and wisdom courses in leadership flowered everywhere. How convenient that the academy of leadership no longer has a WILL TO POWER and are submitted to the WILL TO SERVE. More important, Trait study had been reborn or should we say was born again.
Trait School of Leadership -In the 1920's and 1930's, research focused on identifying traits that differentiated leaders from non-leaders. Hundreds of trait studies have been disappointing, show weak relations between particular traits and leader effectiveness. When some traits were found with predictive power most of the leadership researchers had left for other islands. The out-of-the-box point is about theatrics.
Theatrics of Traits (Out of the Box perspective)- Leadership is theatre, but one that is determined by society and capitalism (click here for more on Dialectic Logic). It is theatre that transmits certain kinds of knowledge to spectators dictated by society. Tastes in traits change over time. Leadership is part of what Aristotle describes as the cathartic function, to purify the spectator, to purge an audience of all ideas they can change society. In the Middle Ages, the clergy and nobles controlled theatrical productions. Leaders were defined as those who preserved the feudal traditions and customs; which suited clergy and nobles just fine. The function of Middle Age theatre was to inculcate spectators with solemn religious attitudes and present noble-leaders as possessing divine and saintly traits. Theatre intimidated spectators, especially the poor, buy showing what terrible punishment (torture and execution) those who were not fearful of leaders. The traits of the medieval leaders was their connection to the spiritual, being born with the silver spoon, inheriting gold, not being industrious. In Shakespeare's play, Merchant of Venice, for example, Portia's hand is one by the suitor who can choose correctly between silver (born with a title), gold (inheriting riches), or lead (the industrious entrepreneur).
In Renaissance theatre, the rising bourgeoisie class of business folks wanted to rest control from the nobles and clergy. The slow pace of life of Middle Ages changed as people moved to cities, invented new technologies (cannons), and lived the faster pace of the Renaissance. Saint Peter became the first accountant who at the moment of death, checks our credits and debits in a ledger (Boal, 1991: 56). During the Renaissance dramaturgy, business leaders were rescripted, given new characters with virtuous traits: initiative (free will), resourceful (not destined), industrious (not idle like aristocrats or clergy). The traits of the Renaissance (business) leader was one who economized, industrious, organized, and never idle ( in contrast to the medieval nobles). The new leader had the traits of an accountant, someone who managed financial transactions for great commercial enterprises; the behind the scenes organizer and producer of the on-stage performances.
During war, people want leaders with authoritarian, determined, jaw lines; after WWII, Europeans distrusted leaders; not just leaders like Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini, but all leaders; better to just have managers (.i.e. with will to serve, not will to power). Each epoch (e.g. feudal, modern industrialism, postmodern spectacle) promotes traits it wants from its leaders.
I assume that each sector of society (business, church, aristocracy, military, state) proposes various leader traits; yet it is those with the most economic power that establish which traits define leadership. That is because those with the money (or social capital) possess the ability to disseminate that knowledge in theatrical themes suitable to the governing classes (Boal, 1991: 53).
The Myers-Briggs Approach to Traits
In the 1950s a Mother Daughter team, Myers & Briggs created a survey instrument to measure 16 personality traits. There work was based on Carl Jung's work with archetypes (the traits stemming from the collective consciousness and or evolutionary instincts as humans). Since then archetype theorists have gone to great lengths to assign various leaders to the Myers-Briggs 16 personality types. I have composed a special web site where you can take the M-B test and assess your own traits. I combine it with the main leadership model for the course. The purpose of the project is to recombine WILL TO POWER with WILL TO SERVE trait theory. Figure Two presents eight leader trait types of leaders and Table One orders them according to the Myers-Briggs personality trait theory.
Figure One: Eight Leader Trait Profiles along Three Dimensions
X dimension (Transaction - Transformation) - For James MacGregor Burns (1978), MORAL VALUE LEADER - emerges from, and always returns to, the fundamental wants and needs, aspirations, and values of the followers (p. 4). The servant leader, say in bureaucracy (or quest) has the moral obligation to serve and in an ideal world, moral ends are valued over means. For Burns his project is to "deal with leadership as distinct from mere power-holding and as the opposite of brute power" (p. 4). The transactional leader according to Burns, approaches followers with an eye to exchanging one thing for another: jobs for votes, or subsidies for campaign contributions. The means are valued over the ends.
Y dimension (Will to POWER - Will to SERVE) - For Nietzsche and Machiavelli, the leader is driven by much ambition, and acts beyond simplistic dualities of good not evil. Burns and most of leadership theory restricts its use to the lower half of Figure One, to the Will to Serve others, and not serve the ambition of power.
Z dimension (MONO-phonic to POLY-phonic) - We hear a lot about voice these days. The bureaucratic and heroic leader has a single voice (monophonic). The network and chaos leader are among many leaders and many voices (polyphonic). Boje (2000b) provides a review of the four voices of leadership.
Table One: Team Roles and M-B Archetypes applied to XYZ Model
LEADER and TEAM ROLE
X TRANS Y WILL Z VOICE LEADER MODALITY TEAM ROLE Archetype A Archetype B Trans- actional Will to Serve Mono BUREAUCRAT
TRADITIONALIST Chief Decider ESTJ Inspector ISTJ Trans- formational Will to Power Mono SUPERMAN/ SUPERWOMAN
Guardian/ Lone Ranger
TRADITIONALIST Guardian ESFJ Lone Ranger ISFJ Trans- actional Will to Power Mono PRINCE
Valiant/ Scientist/ Model Builder
VISIONARY Valiant ENTJ Scientist ENTP Trans- actional Will to Serve Poly GOVERNMENT POLITICIAN Mastermind/ Architect
VISIONARY Mastermind INTJ Architect INTP Trans- actional Will to Power Poly OPINION LEADER
TROUBLE SHOOTER Chief Promoter ESTP Sculptor ISTP
Trans- formational Will to Serve Poly REFORMER
Rebel/ Early Adopter
TROUBLE SHOOTER Rebel ESFP Early Adopter ISFP Trans- formational Will to Serve Mono HERO
CATALYST Charisma ENFJ Crusader ENFP Trans- formational Will to Power Poly REVOLUTIONARY
World Caregiver/ Healing Change Agent
CATALYST World Caregiver INFJ Healing Change Agent INFP
See Myers-Briggs Study Guide for more on this topic.
Myers-Briggs scores change over time. I notice that my scores change from one year to the next. I generally keep the NT values (see Boje chart), but my N and J values are shifting; both dropped compared to last year. I think that like many people I have unstable traits, and they transform as my historical situation changes. When I fill out the sclaes, I think about relevant life experiences, and what is relevant changes form one year to the next.
There you have it, my personal challenge to Trait Studies: to reincorporate WILL TO POWER with the current obsession with WILL TO SERVE and most of all to let leader trait theory out of the Bureaucrat's cage, to expand leadership from just transactional or even transformational to multiple voices (democratic polyphony) and WILL TO POWER. Next we review the varous trait theories and look at how they avoid WILL TO POWER.
Figure 2 contrasts two of three dimensions of our (in the box) model of leadership. Keep in mind our aim is to get out of the box. On the X dimensions, the leader is either transactional or transformational. On the Y dimension, they possess either a will to power or a will to serve. My assumption is that leadership theory has moved away from will to serve, and restricts its sights on will to serve. Princes and supermen/superwomen are not popular characters, yet they seem to be everywhere. We being with Machiavelli, who was quite definite about the will to power traits of princes.
Figure Two: The Prince, Superman/woman, Hero (with Charisma), and Bureaucrat
Nicoli Machiavelli (1469-1527) - Great Man - PRINCE Theory
Machiavelli (1469-1527), a diplomat and a bureaucrat with a will to power. He believed in the omnipotent great man, the Prince of the Italian Renaissance at the dawn of the mercantilist era (See Figure One). Machiavelli (1518) wrote a comedy for theater, titled Mandragola (2) that demonstrates the trait of a great pragmatic leader: will use fraud, trickery, hypocrisy, harshness, deceit, and ruthlessness in governance in order to secure a peaceful (harmonious) outcome.
Plot of Mandragola - which character is shrewder than the next in tricking the others. The wealthy merchant Nicias and his beautiful wife Lucretia are without child. Callimaco overhears someone say there is the most beautiful woman living in Tuscany. He travels from Paris to seduce her, but her virtue is above reproach. Callimaco enlists Ligroin, a marriage broker who knows Lucretia and Nicias -- to come up with a scheme. Ligroin's plan is for Callimaco to impersonates a Doctor who will prescribe a special potent to help the childless couple conceive a child. Callimaco must tell Nicias he can mix a potion and give it to Lucretia to enable her to conceive. The problem is the first man to have sex with her will die from the side-effects of the potion. Callimaco proposes a crafty solution: he knows a young man who will gladly die to have sex with the beautiful Lucretia. Guess what? Callimaco changes his mask, and becomes that young man. But, Lucretia is virtuous and does not want to commit adultery. So using Nicia's money, Ligroin and Callimaco purchase the services of friar Frate Timoteo. The friar convinces the reluctant Lucretia to take the potion and sleep with the young man (Callimaco). The friar tells the biblical story of Lot's naive daughters to justify Lucretia's adultery. Lucretia is advised by the friar to capture a young man in the street at night, have sex, and have him die from the fatal effects of the potion. Callimaco just happens to be in the right street at the right time to be abducted by Lucretia. A twist in the plot is that Callimaco reveals to Ligroin that the potion will not kill him, it was his way of taking her as a lover. They agree to stay lovers, and keep deceiving Nicias. Theme - Use of fraud to accomplish a characters' objectives is acceptable if it will further their cause. Every character except Nicia uses fraud in this play. Fraud prevails over religion, force, and intelligence. The theme is it is acceptable to play on people's desires to get what you want. "Machiavelli proposed the liberation of man from all moral values" (Boal, 1991: 73). Characters - each expresses a moral quality (or anti-moral, i.e. free of any moral traits; free to be cold, efficient, and calculating, the new virtues). In this play, it is the Machiavelli's moral: that the ends justify (fraudulent) means. The characters Ligroin is Machiavelli's alter-ego: someone who does not trust to change and believes all problems can be solved with intelligence and trickery. This is also play with a happy ending. Nicias, though the victim of everyone's trickery will get an heir. Callimaco gets the beautiful Lucretia, whenever he wants; she gets her young lover whenever she wants. And friar Timoteo gets his money. Each has the enterprising spirit so important to Renaissance, whereas in feudal times, God anointed each character with moral purpose (e.g. feudal lord was God's representative on earth). Dialog - In a scene between Friar Timoteo and Lucretia, he uses the Bible in a Renaissance manner, "showing that the Scriptures had lost their normative function in the behavior of men" and had become "a holy repository of texts, deeds, and vesicles which, interpreted out of context, could justify a posteriori any attitude, thought, or act" or trait (Boal, 1991: 60). This is the dialog that prompted Pope Leo X to commend Machiavelli for expressing the new principles of the Church.
Will to Power:
In sum, from great man theory, trait theory evolved into no-man theory and into an antihero science of leadership. The natural leader was dead, replaced by ghostly traits; feudal power traits gave way to bourgeois trait-virtues of rational ability, industry, and entrepreneurship.
Powerful leaders are needed at the birth of an organization and at a time of crisis (Jennings, 1960: 5). They had what Nietzsche would call the Will to Power. In leadership theory of old, the Machiavellian Prince and Superman (Nietzsche) theories of leadership paid great attention to the WILL TO POWER, but in recent decades leadership has been locked in the prison house of the WILL TO SERVE. I have made this Dimension Y in Figure One and crossed it with the X dimension of TRANSACTION to TRANSFORMATION leadership which is now all the rage. My point is to show that the top half of the figure is being neglected and marginalized in current leader theory. The Prince shifts masks "from persuasion to cajolery, flattery to intrigue, diplomacy to promises or horse trading, or to concoct just the formula to provide his escape from disaster" (Jennings, 1960: 5). The point for Figure One is that the leader can be many persona and exhibit all four of the masks of Figure One. Examples of Jennings' (1960) great PRINCELY men: Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Mussolini, Rockefeller, Sr., Roosevelt, Henry Ford, and Fidel Castro. Where are the Princesses? Women do lead. Jennings' thesis was that there are fewer and fewer leaders of the hero type and more and more of the Prince type (1960: 5). And with modern bureaucracy, Princes are more subtle in maneuvering and manipulation people and with mush less innovative impact than in the Italian Renaissance. Carlyle studied great men (the Heroes in Figure One) who would provide regimentation and organization, to move from feudal to modern society. Herbert Spencer thought that great men were the fittest, chosen by God to survive (Social Darwinism). Definitely was conflicted over the WILL TO POWER while masking it as a WILL TO SERVE the evolution of the human race; of course the rich would be the survivors in his storyline. The poor were unfit to survive and should not be helped; conservative revulsion to social welfare was quite popular in Spencer's Victorian capitalism days. On the other hand, John Stuart Mill preferred great men who would restore independence and originality, even independent thought; using powers of persuasion to enlighten the people. William James disliked Social Darwinism (Spencer). James argued that there are situations and moments in history that call forth the genius of great leaders to form special relations with followers, and without these extraordinary situations they remain unknown. Mill and James lost this race to Carlyle and Spencer. As we shall soon see, leadership science developed a dislike for "Great Men Theory." Scientists tried to isolate traits that differentiated Great and Lesser leaders. They could find few traits that differentiated leaders and followers, so they gave up the search for some 50 years. But now, society is demanding leaders with particular traits: spirit, ethics, trust, etc. And the antiheroic bias of leadership science is being severely challenged. And so, Machiavelli is now being rediscovered. Any with him we are able to see that many leaders are hoarding power, behaving with stealth and deception to become great, for greatness sake. And with this discover, we see that there is a dark side to leadership, the great leaders can mimic and even be charismatic in order to create hell on earth. There are despots, petit fascists, and tyrants in the executive suite. There are more princes now than in the Italian Renaissance, but they are cloaked with the mask of the hero, the transforming, charismatic leader. Princely executives like Phil Knight and Michael Eisner use propaganda to establish and perpetuate their reputation as hero (Phil with Tiger; Eisner with Mickey) while sacking the Third World of its sweat labor. As is Nietzsche and the Superman Theory of Leadership. Leaders are not just the good guys with the White Hats, some supermen have iron will and become Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. Popular culture books that teach the Art of Success are disguise will to power as will to serve. How much difference is there between Dale Carnegie and Nicoli Machiavelli? As with Friar Timoteo, spirituality becomes commercialized. Both speak in most mystifying spiritual tones about the most material financial matters; both preach "where there's a will, there's a way" (Boal, 1991: 69, 78).
Machiavelli time line Machiavelli Biography and Links Machiavelli's, THE PRINCE, on line. written 1513, published 1532, English translation 1602 Summary of Machiavelli's La Mandragola See Nietzsche Page for more Will to Power.
What traits differentiate leaders and nonleaders?
Stogdill 1948 Review of 124 Trait Studies (1904-1948)
MAIN TRAITS STUDIED:
Requires status through active participation Demonstrates ability to facilitate the efforts of the group to attain its goals Intelligent Alert to others' needs Understands the task Initiative Persistence in dealing with problems Self-confident Desire to accept responsibility Desire for the position of dominance and control
Capacity (intelligence, alertness, verbal facility, originality, judgment) Achievement (scholarship, knowledge, athletic accomplishments) Responsibility (dependability, initiative, persistence, aggressiveness, self-confidence, desire to excel) Participation (activity, social ability, cooperation, adaptability, humor) Status (socioeconomic, position, popularity).
Jennings (1960: 165)
- Traits varied by situation (non support for hypothesis that leaders have different traits from nonleaders).
- Relative import of trait varied by situation (and no trait, apart from others, correlated highly with effectiveness).
- Therefore "A person does not become a leader by virtue of the possession of some combination of traits..." (Stogdill, 1948: 64; See Yukl, 1989: 174-175).
- Two leaders with different traits could be successful in same situation (Yukl, 1989: 175).
What traits differentiate leaders and nonleaders? Stogdill lists 4,725 leader studies, and concludes "the endless accumulation of empirical studies has not produced an integrated understanding of leadership"
Stogdill 1974 Review of 163 Trait Studies (1949-1970)
MAIN TRAITS STUDIED:
Adaptable to situations Alert to social environment Ambitious and achievement-oriented Assertive Cooperative Decisive Dependable Dominant (desire to influence others) Energetic (high activity level) Persistent Self-Confident Tolerant of stress Willing to assume responsibility MAIN SKILLS STUDIED:
Clever (intelligent) Conceptually skilled Creative Diplomatic and tactful Fluent in speaking Knowledgeable about group task Organized (administrative ability) Persuasive Socially skilled
- The 1904-1948 negative trait findings causes many leader researchers to reject the relevance of traits entirely (Stogdill, 1974: 72; Yukl, 1989: 176).
- Therefore the field of leadership (the Academy) sailed off into situation (contingency) theories of leadership.
- The result is the situation leader theorists over-emphasized the situation and under-emphasized the traits that did indeed mark leader from nonleader.
- So now we conclude that there are certain traits that increase the probability that certain leaders will lead their followers successfully in a narrow range of situations.
Stogdill, Ralph (1974) Handbook of Leadership. NY: Free Press
DIALECTIC CRITIQUE OF TRAIT THEORY - Trait theory is based upon Aristotelian logic of the simple syllogism, 'A' is equal to 'A'. Yet, if you look very closely you will discover that there are slight differences in the two A's. It is easy to prove that trait "A" (for example, Assertiveness, Ambition, Aggression, Attractiveness) studied in two leaders is going to be different. In reality Bill and Jane's Assertiveness (or some other A), are not the same. Worse, they can vary their trait from one situation, and one day to the next. So, 'A' is NOT equal to 'A'. Why? Because people are transforming their traits; their identity is multiple, dynamic, shifting, always changing. Traits are unstable styles of thinking and acting that arise in particular moments of history, and keep changing. Traits and ideas (about leadership) change in response to our material world, our situated material stage. Traits are material processes echoed in human thinking processes. Traits are a product of the material world. In Trait Theory, bourgeois theorists imagine that leaders with Great "A" traits write history, perfecting capitalism, unable to imagine its replacement. Yet, for the critical theorists, if capitalism transforms (even morphs into something else), then the traits deemed more or less respectable by leadership theorists will change.
Dialectics of leadership, then is defined as the study of the transformation of leadership traits in response to shifts in the material condition of late (post)modern capitalism. Trait theory is formal bourgeoisie logic embedded in capitalism, that assumes leaders (and followers) can be classified by traits. In the Linnaean system, a rigid classification of plants was accepted, until Darwin showed that Plant A and Plant B shared traits, and plants classified as similar in trait by a Linnaean system were quite different. In evolution theory, plants with one set of traits can transform into plants with a different set of traits.
Your personality traits, for example, can go through periods of relatively gradual change, and then one day you graduate, or enter a war, or find a new love, or a new career --- and in a matter of days, a new you emerges. You accumulated little gradual changes, experimented with new ideas and skills, then one day, all the little changes, make huge leaps in your traits.
In dialectic trait theory, you can be "A" and NOT "A" at the some time, working out contrary scripts you learned growing up (e.g. Aggressive and NOT Aggressive). Your traits exhibit contradictions, rather than rigid classification (click here for more on Dialectic Logic).
McGregor 1960 Theory X Y
Theory X Leaders Assume: Theory Y Leaders Assume:
- Employees inherently dislike work and, whenever possible, will attempt to avoid it.
- Because employees dislike work, they must be coerced, controlled, or threatened with punishment to achieve desired goals
- Employees will shirk responsibilities and seek formal direction whenever possible
- Most workers place security above all other factors associated with work and will display little ambition
- Employees can view work as being as natural as rest or play
- Men and women will exercise self-direction and self-control if they are committed to the objectives
- The average person can learn to accept, even seek, responsibility
- The ability to make good decisions is widely dispersed throughout the population and is not necessarily the sole province of managers
Douglas McGregor's Theory X and Y became the most popular trait theory. McGregor based his dualistic theory on Maslow's need hierarchy (let's not go there). McGregor stayed in the WILL TO SERVE part of Figure One.
X and Y is a dualism, because the dialectic relationship is left out. For example, Theory Y is Theory X in Sheep's Clothing (Salaman, 1981), a way to seduce worker motivation (with smiles & compliments) to get higher levels of worker performativity (here performativity means work till you drop dead). Neither X nor Y challenge the underlying system.
McClelland 1965 Stories of Leaders
Need for Achievement: Need for Power: Need for Affiliation
Achievement Imagery Concern with a standard of excellence Instrumental activity successful or unsuccessful Anticipations of success or failure Help by another person Achievement Sequence
A stated wish to succeed Obstacles to achievement (a person's own lack or external obstacle blocking the path to success). Means of gaining an achievement goal Is the story as a whole centrally or only peripherally concern with Achievement?
Concern with the control of the means of influencing a person. Emotional reactions to a dominance situation
Pleasure in winning Anger in losing an argument Statements wanting to avoid weakness Dominance Activities
Disputing a position Arguing something Demanding or forcing something Trying to put a point across Giving a command Trying to convince someone of something Punishing someone A superior person (boss, judge, etc.) with position-control of the means of influencing another who is subordinate
Affiliation imagery Concern in one or more characters over establishing, maintaining, or restoring a positive affective relationship with another person. Characters related to one another out of friendship. Warming, caring and companionate relationship. Liking and desire to be liked Approval-seeking Like a probability of success that is at least 50-50 (not gamblers; dislike low odds; want to stretch and not have it too easy. May not always be a good team player (wants to succeed alone).
Stories about being good at sales and entrepreneurship. Stories focus on attaining challenging goal, setting new records, completing difficult tasks, and showing off skills at solving problems.
Seek situations where they can attain personal responsibility for finding solutions, get rapid and clear feedback on results, and set challenging goals.
Dig adventure movies with lots of action.
The need to make others behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise. Can be rude and prone to drink. Like Clinton they tend to exploit others sexually and impulsively while inspiring loyalty (except for Monica). Others are more mature (socialized) about use of power (less ego and defensive).
Stories of defeating a competitor, winning at argument, and gaining a position of power and authority are told.
Like situations where they can be in charge (CEO, President, labor Organizer, Military, and even Law), seek to influence others, and promote competitive and status-seeking climate.
Tend to like movies with explicit scenes of violence, like Gladiator and Max Max.
The desire for friendly and close interpersonal relationships. Prefer harmonious and utopia settings. Full of spirituality, family values, and need to build cultures. Has lots of meetings so they can socialize and build interpersonal relations.
Stories of co-dependency, the need to be liked and and accepted are told here. Stories about letting others make the unpopular decisions. Tending to show favoritism to their friends (loyalty matters).
They prefer cooperative situations over competitive ones, and seek mutual understanding. Like family-oriented work cultures.
Tend to like romantic Family (G-rated) movies made by Disney, at least before Eisner took over (ironic because many Disney toons are quite violent.
METHOD - Write a story about each picture. Content-analysis of responses to see what your need-type is. The chart is adapted with gracious apologies for my irony, satire and parody from Yukl (1989: 184-188). I do contend that one can learn a lot about Leaders from studying their stories.
David C. McClelland's theory of storytelling was reduced by post-1950s leader theorists to a need theory (contrasted with Maslow's hierarchy), and then to a three-factor need theory. And most important, the NEED FOR POWER (related to WILL TO POWER in Figure One) was stripped away from the typology.
In the fashionable behavior theories of leadership, need for achievement became initiating structure and need for affiliation became consideration in the Ohio State and University of Michigan Models. Note that the WILL TO POWER was now gone and forgotten, and McClelland's NEED FOR POWER with it. The Achieving (Bureaucratic) Leader is Theory X, while the Affiliation Leader Theory Y (a gross reductionism) is also the BUREAUCRAT. It was an interesting bit of reductionism to limit leader traits to only the BUREAUCRATIC ones (Figure One).
The fact that studying the storytelling leaders received from their mothers and their community (or country of birth), was just forgotten. Also forgotten, was the fact that McClelland did a globe leadership project that he reported on in 1961, in The Achieving Society. There is currently a globe leadership underway by Bob House and company that includes measures of McClelland's three types of leadership. However McClelland based his globe leader theory on Max Weber's idea that the protestant work ethic had something to do with economic development. We will have to wait to see the Bob House results before we know how McClelland's theories have been operationalized. Within the individual, there is recent work suggesting that Achievement (and other) personality traits of leaders may not be stable (Miller & Droge, 1986; Miller, Kets de Vries, & Toulouse, 1982). (See Dialectic Theory of Traits above) In short, reducing McClelland to a 3-factor trait theory, is grossly in appropriate. For more on this point go to Storytelling Gameboard and read up on McClelland and Storytelling Leadership.
You may also want to question if Achievement, Affiliation or Power are basic needs. Rather, McClelland contended that the need to achieve could be taught, and was an active consultant advising mothers and businesses how to train achievement behaviors. Bottom line, leadership theory since McClelland split off POWER from ACHIEVEMENT and AFFILIATION, reducing leadership to only the WILL TO SERVE. See also Behavior theories of leadership and the Myers-Briggs typology.
Katz 1955 3-Skill Taxonomy
Technical: Interpersonal: Conceptual:
Solves technical problems directs subordinates into specialized activities, provides training, & evaluates performance.
Knowledge about methods, processes, procedures, and techniques for conducting a specialized activity, and the ability to use tools and operate equipment related to that activity
Human Relations is important to establish effective relations with their subordinates, superiors, peers, and customers & vendors.
Knowledge about human behavior and interpersonal processes, ability to understand the feelings, attitudes, and motives of others from what they way and do (empathy, social sensitivity), ability to communicate clearly and effectively (speech fluency, persuasiveness), and ability to establish effective and cooperative relationships (tact, diplomacy, knowledge about acceptable social behavior).
Lots of planning, organizing, policy formation, and program development. A real bureaucratic style that modifies structure, coordinates various parts of the organization, and seeks to effect system changes.
General analytical ability, logical thinking, proficiency in concept formation and conceptualization of complex and ambiguous relationships, creativity in idea generation and problem solving, ability to analyze events and perceive trends, anticipate changes, and recognize opportunities and potential problems (inductive and deductive reasoning).
Table adapted from Yukl (1989: 191-192).
Once again Leadership Theory is restricted to the WILL TO SERVE half of Figure One and there is no dialectic interplay, allowing the traits to emerge from the material condition or for people to be multi-trait.
After hundreds of trait studies (as reviewed by Stogdill) failed to correlate consistently with leader effectiveness, researchers abandoned trait study. More recent studies (if you call 1980s recent) investigated traits that had more relevance to leader effectiveness (or rediscovered industrial psychology and McClelland). Different methodologies (longitudinal, story, and multivariate statistics) have turned up more significant results. "Three general categories of skills" concludes Yukl (1989: 202) are "relevant to all managers... interpersonal skills, cognitive skills, and technical skills" (see Katz, 1955 above). Yukl's review looks at the situations under which specific skills (and traits) are correlated with leader effectiveness (including when they act as moderators - in this situation, this one works best).
Yukl's (1989) framework was used to develop the initial set of categories for personality characteristics and leadership skills. These included need for achievement, need for power, self-confidence, emotional maturity, technical skills, conceptual skills, and interpersonal skills.
Flanagan 1951 Critical Incidents; Boyatzis 1982
Boyatzis in 1982 unveiled his program to discover competencies, including traits as well as skills, self-image, knowledge and motive (basically traits by other names). His "behavioral event interview" was a reincarnation of Flanagan (1982) critical incident method. The difference was the leaders (mostly managers) selected for interview were ones thought to be highly or low in effectiveness. Scads of traits were factor analyzed into competency dimensions.
Managerial Competency Traits (Boyatzis, 1982)
- Efficiency Orientation - concern for task (See Theory X), high inner work standards, high achievement motivation [See McClelland] (with challenging but realistic goals and deadlines), develops action plans, determines ways to overcome obstacles, organizes work efficiently, and emphasizes performance when talking to followers.
- Concern with Impact - Demonstrates high power need (see McClelland), and concern for power symbols (see culture), with behavior such as acting assertively (see Stogdill, 1974), attempting to influence others, seeking high status positions, and expressing concern about the reputation of the organization's products and services.
- Proactivity - Demonstrates strong belief in self efficacy and internal locus of control (see Rotter, 1969), with behavior such as initiating action (see Oho State who call it initiating structure), do now wait for things to happen, takes steps to circumvent obstacles, seeks info from variety of sources, and accepts responsibility for success or failure.
- Self-confidence - Demonstrates belief on their ideas and ability, takes decisive action, does not hesitate or vacillate, makes firm proposals, but has some poise, bearing, and uses gestures.
- Oral presentation skill - Ability to use symbolic (see culture), verbal, and nonverbal behavior, and uses visual aids (overheads and Power Point) to persuade and convince.
- Conceptualization - Ability to identify patterns in info and events (inductive reasoning), and conveys meaning with a concept, model, or theme, or uses a metaphor or analogy; able to develop creative solutions and new insights into problems.
- Diagnostic use of Concepts - The deductive reasoning leaders who interpret events and situations, distinguish relevant from irrelevant info, to detect deviations from their plans.
- Use of Socialized Power - Develops networks and coalitions to gain cooperation and resolve conflicts constructively; uses role modeling to influence others.
- Managing Group Process - Ability to manage group process, includes member identification, team spirit, symbols of group identity, emphasis on common interests, the need to collaborate, facilitate teamwork, and provide public recognition for member contributions.
Once Again, leadership theory has moved to restrict leadership to the WILL TO SERVE in Figure One, to mostly the bureaucratic behavior of leaders. Could it be that society and organization seeks to restrict leadership to WILL TO SERVE or is this the preference of the theorists now, who have moved away from Machiavelli, McClelland (Need for Power), and Nietzsche's WILL TO POWER?
Warren Bennis - 10 Traits of Dynamic Leaders
From the Book: Managing People Is Like Herding Cats By: Warren Bennis. Chapter 12: Ten Traits of Dynamic Leaders.
This best selling leadership book goes against four decades of empirical research that did not find much value in leadership trait theory. Bennis writes, "Dynamic leaders possess some distinguishing personality traits that give them the power and passion to succeed." Bennis own research of 40 U.S. executives found,
10 Personality Traits
- Self-knowledge Knowledge of own talents Value of foreign assignments With responsibility and accountability, you gain self-insight through some hall of mirrors, some prismatic way of seeing yourself in a variety of circumstances.
- Open to feedback - Effective leaders develop valued and varied sources of feedback on their behavior and performance. 38 of 40 executives were still married and valued the institution of marriage and spouse as source of feedback.
- Eager to learn and improve - Leaders are great askers and listeners. They know what they are good at doing, and they nurture and develop those skills and those talents. Extraordinarily thirsty for knowledge.
- Curious, risk takers - Most leaders are adventurous, risk takers, curious and get involved in situations that they did not realize until later were dangerous.
- Concentrate at work - Some are not very articulate leaders, but as you get to know them at work, display remarkable concentration and persistence.
- Learn from adversity - great leaders have had a significant setback, crisis or failure in their lives.
- Balance tradition and change - Value principles of tradition and stability, as well as the need for revision and change
- Open style - Be extremely reflective and Vulnerable to criticism.
- Work well with systems - Great leaders realize they cannot handle every problem on their own. They rely on staff and systems to get things done.
- Serve as models and mentors - Helps others to learn and learns from others.
Nice list of traits, but again, where is the material and historical context, and the openness of the individual to transformation?
BACK TO UNIVERSAL: SEARCHING FOR BETTER LEADER TRAITS
In the 2000s the search is on for traits we can all trust. Where are the servant and spiritual leaders? Why do we seek these traits now more than before?
Servant Leadership theory, a modern rendition of WILL TO SERVE, comes from the work of Robert K. Greenleaf in the 1970s. Greenleaf had a career at AT&T, where he trained managers. He argued that great organizations trained their leaders to serve society.
The servant-leader is servant first... It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.... The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant - first to make sure that other people's highest-priority needs are being served. The best test, and the most difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit or, at least, not be further deprived? (Greenleaf, 1970: 7).
While the servant leader appears to circumvent the game of power, the servant can still be an authoritarian leader.
Servant leadership is mentioned much earlier than Greenleaf's in the writing of Max Weber (1947): 327). Weber says for example, "the fact that the chief and his administrative staff often appear formally as servants or agents of those they rule, naturally does nothing whatever to disprove the authoritarian character of the relationship" (p. 327). Weber says there is a contradiction between the bureaucratic and the servant points of view.
It (the contradiction) is the tendency of (bureaucratic) officials to treat their official function from what is substantively a utilitarian point of view in the interest of the welfare of those under their authority (i.e. the servant leader model). But this utilitarian tendency is generally expressed in the enactment of corresponding regulatory measures which themselves have a form (bureaucratic) character and tend to be treated in a formalistic spirit (Weber, 1947: 340, additions mine).
The servant leader is bureaucratic authority and at the same time a servant to the social welfare. It is not at all clear that the Servant Leader decentralized authority. Weber argued that it was possible to transform charismatic authority into an anti-authoritarian direction (p. 386-392). That is at some point, the servant or charismatic (these are different in many ways) can become democratic., where the followers elect their own leader. But then, the elected official becomes the "servant of those under his (or her) authority" (Weber, 1947: 389). This is what Weber refers to as the "transformation of charisma (that) normally leads into the path of rationality" (p. 390).
In either case, Servant leadership can be viewed as an extension of Trait research. It can also be seen as a learned behavior, since Greenleaf tried to train managers to serve, while at AT&T.
Servant leadership has been revived recently as a way to capture market share from the Transformation Leader group (See X dimension in Figure One). Transformers (Burns, 1978; Bass, 1985) begin with Weber's work on (Heroic) Charisma, but are influenced by the behaviorists who stole the Holy Grail, and then stopped looking spirit aspects of charisma. Servant leadership is reduced to limiting aspects of the new hype about empowering others, and it is quite close to what Manz and Sims (1989) conceptualize as the SuperLeader, the leader who coaches and trains others to lead them selves; the SuperLeader is therefore the servant leader (also similar to the Flight of the Buffalo model). But the question remains, is this Servant Leader authoritarian or egalitarian? Does the Servant Leader, committed totally to WILL TO SERVE or continue to struggle with WILL TO POWER? (See Boje, 2001 on Existential Leadership).
Is Servant Leading the opposite of the Superman/ Superwoman model of Nietzsche (Figure One)? Nietzsche's theory of Superman (Superwoman) is based on the Will to Power, and not the Will to Serve. The Servant Leader model reveals a suspicion of both the Machiavellian Prince (of power) and the Nietzschean Superman's "will to power" (See Greenleaf, 1996: 2). Greenleaf urged that schools of religion to train future leaders in Servant Leadership. He says this as a way to improve society by improving the leadership of its institutions.
Servant Leadership has been transformed into one more serve the customer and serve the organization model. What is forgotten is the serve society idea of Greenleaf. The re-envisioned Greenleaf model is that the role of the leader will be to serve customers by serving the people in the network of supply chain relationships. The servant leader pays attention to customers, supplier, people at the core, and people at the periphery.
Still there is a new fashion to reinvent Servant Leadership as Spiritual, be seeking biblical connections. For example, in Matthew 20:26 the verse reads "whoever would be first among you must be your servant." Christians are quick to assert that the concept of servant leader model is uniquely theirs, and has definitely existed since the time of Christ. It is however, also a staple trait of Buddha, Mohamed and other religious leaders. Applying it to business has been tricky.
Since the death of Greenleaf, Servant leadership is becoming quite a trivial theory. The servant leader is setting an example by being courteous to customers requires being courteous to workers. In the age of Michael Milken and Mr. Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan, Servant Leader Trait is a radical ethic. These leaders sought to be served and to serve themselves, not to serve the interests of others.
There are some ideas of Servant Leadership that Greenleaf did not write about. Would the servant leader take maximum bonus for him/herself when their people are being laid off, as in the case of Chrysler's Lee Iaccoca, or pay sports celebrities millions while doling out pennies to 3rd world workers in the case of Nike's Phil Knight, or pay themselves $212 million while operating sweatshops in Haiti in the case of Disney's Michael Eisner.
And all this talk about Servant Leadership, who is it that leaders are being trained to serve? Servant Leadership may be serving the needs of coercive and exploitative corporations, who do lots of training in empowerment and customer service, but very little in social responsibility. Mohandas Gandhi was by my reading, a Servant Leader, but would not fit the definitions of Servant Leader being offered these days. Gandhi brought an end to British colonial rule in India with acts of coercive, yet non-violent resistance (See Greenleaf book, 1996: 132-136 for a critique of why Gandhi is not a Servant Leader).
There is a need to look carefully at the original Greenleaf writings. For example Greenleaf, 1996: 346) makes the point that while at AT&T his Servant Leadership included at time a "Machiavellian strategy to maneuver within it and to make any contribution to it." Does this mean that sometimes the Prince is a Servant Leader?
Greenleaf, Robert K. (1970) The Servant as Leader. IN: Indianapolis.
Greenleaf, Robert K. (1996) On Becoming a Servant-Leader. Don M. Frick & Larry C. Spears (Eds.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
The search for Traits has centered on two related areas: Charisma (see other section) and Sprit. Spirit Leadership theory once again restricts leadership to WILL TO SERVE, but this time the Charismatic Hero is set apart from the Bureaucratic leader. The Spirit leaders have the charisma that Max Weber warned against, and in modern times offer up Vision and Mission, and mimic acts of heroism within the corporate bureaucracy.
There is currently work being done on spirituality as a leader trait than any other one. There appears at this point in history to be a populous need to see leaders as spirit-driven and at this stage in global capitalism for CEOs of the 1st World operating factories in the 3rd World to be seen as spiritually enlightened. To me, this harkens back to the quest for Social Darwinism, in the late 1800s, where the rich justified their Darwinian Robber Baron tactics of exploitations on the Godly decree that the poor were just meant to be poor.
Spiritual Capitalism - Boje
Still there is hope that a genuine and authentic spirit revival in leaders is in the offing. Until then, we look for trust.
Has anyone noticed how many theories of Trust (credibility, ethics, & values) as a leadership trait there are of late? WILL TO SERVE is beating out WILL TO POWER in public attitudes toward leadership. The effective leader in the 1900s was powerful, a tall, intelligent, assertive and confident man (women are still struggling with the erected image of male patriarchal power). The effective leader in the 2000s is the WILL TO SERVE: nurturing, trustworthy, honesty, ethical, and spiritual. Could it be that there is a genealogy of leadership (Foucault, 1979), a change in the meaning of leadership over time? That is, our societies are socially constructing (erecting would be the male power word) what is an effective leader, and changing that construction over time. When we needed (WILL TO POWER) Robber Barons, one set of traits mattered (self-determined, powerful, aggressive, and not too ethical or bright). When WWII happened we needed more WILL TO POWER military strong man traits (authoritarian, directive, self-confident with national loyalty). When the Japanese recovered and launched an economic war, we needed HEROIC leaders who were visionary (full of codes, vision statements, and churning reorganization everywhere). Now we are in the 2000s and what kind of leader do we need? After Richard Nixon, OJ Simpson, Phil Knight, and Bill Clinton, people are clamoring for a leader who can be trusted. WILL TO SERVE is where its at. Ethics and spiritual values seems to be a test of credibility and trust.
Dimensions of Trust
- Integrity - Honesty and truthfulness
- Competence - Technical and interpersonal knowledge and skills
- Consistency - Reliability, predictability, and good judgment
- Loyalty - Willingness to protect and save face for a person
- Openness - Willingness to share ideas and information freely
Adapted from Shindler & Thomas (1993: 563-573) Psychological Reports.
Kouzes & Posner (1993) did studies of Credibility and how leaders gain and lose it. Most interesting is why people are demanding it now. Studies about trust are on the rise (see Mayer, Davis, & Shoorman, 1995 in AMR; Schindler & Thomas, 1993 in Psychological Reports; Butler Jr. & Cantrell, 1984 in Psychological Reports; Bartolome, 1989 in HBR).
Bartolome (1989) offers WILL TO SERVE ideas to managers on how they can developing trust skills (an adaptation with humor follows):
- Practice openness - this brings about confidence and trust. Keep people informed, set clear criteria for decisions, explaining the rationale for decisions, be candid about problems, and fully disclose relevant information
- Be fair - considering others before taking decisions is perceived as being fair and objective. Giving credit where due is perceived as being objective and impartial when doing performance appraisals, and paying attention to equity in reward distributions increases attributions of your fairness.
- Speak your feeling - just giving hard facts makes you appear cold and distant. Share your feelings and others will see you as real, even human, and they will increase their respect for you.
- Tell the truth - Honesty is essential to your credibility and followers will be more tolerant when you mix truth with what they do not want to hear.
- Be consistent - Trust comes from being predictable, being consistent in decisions and values, and knowing your central purpose allows actions to follow accordingly.
- Fulfill your promises - Keep your word so that people believe you are dependable.
- Maintain confidences - Being discrete and not betraying confidences makes others leak more personal confidences to you.
- Demonstrate confidence - Paying attention to displaying your communication, negotiation, and interpersonal skills commands respect; Throw in some technical and professional ability demonstrations.
With the recent fashion of finding trustful, spiritual, and servant leaders, the Leadership trait field has been revitalized from its WILL TO POWER ancestry to WILL TO SERVE. Still the populous cried out for a prophet. Zarathustra can be heard in the distance.
Principle-Centered Leader Traits - Covey
Steven Covey has a series of books defining principles or habits (traits/skills) of effective people, family members, and leaders in the most popular trait theory of WILL TO SERVE.
7 HABITS OF PRINCIPLE-CENTERED LEADERS
- Be proactive - the principle of self-awareness, personal vision, and responsibility.
- Begin with the End in Mind - the Principle of Leadership and Mission
- Put First Things First - the Principle of Managing Time and Priorities Around Roles and Goals
- Think Win-Win - The Principle of Seeking mutual Benefit
- Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood - the Principle of Empathic Communication
- Synergize - the Principle of Creative Cooperation
- Sharpen the Saw - the Principle of Continuous Improvement
The 7 principles of leadership operate on 4 Levels
- Personal (Trustworthiness)
- Interpersonal (Trust)
- Managerial (Empowerment)
- Organizational (Alignment)
These Lead to 6 Conditions of Empowerment
Integrity (HABITS-VALUES, WORDS=DEEDS) Maturity (COURAGE BALANCE with CONSIDERATION) Abundance Mentality
Communications Planning & Organization Synergistic Problem-Solving
- Win-Win Agreement
Desired results Guidelines Resources Accountability Consequences
Control -> Plan -> Do
- Helpful Structures and Systems
THE 8 S's
- Shared Vision & Principles
7 Habits pp. 269-276; 4 Levels, p. 251; 6 Conditions of Empowerment, p. 197; 8 S's p. 183 Principle-Centered Leadership (1990)
PROBLEMS WITH TRAITS
- Relativity - Fails to clarify the relative importance of various traits.
- Interaction - Studies of X and Y (and other traits) are examples of quest for Universal Theory of leadership. The two (3 or 9) trait type models are not looking at interaction effects. Few field or lab studies are manipulation task (imitating structure), power, or interpersonal (consideration) to test interactive effects (Yukl, 1989: 90).
- Universalism - Universal theories hold that particular trait patterns (i.e. concern for task and for people; need to achieve and need for affiliation with social power) lead to most effective leader behavior in any situation. Yet other (situationist) studies find that traits are not universal; they depend on the situation.
- Dialectic - Trants transform over time, and traits thought to be the same across some species of leader are found to vary in important ways. A dialectic theory of tratis would look at the evolution and contraditions of tratis, even in the smae person (See dialectic theory of leadership).
- Cause & Effect - Does not separate cause and effect (e.g., Are leaders ambitious or does being a leader lead to ambition?). Is it cause or effect?
- Cross-Cultural Patterns - Ignores cultural factors. What is effective leadership in Japan is not as effective in Australia (though some dispute this).
- Positive Trait Bias - Studies of traits seem to exclude the Machiavellian traits.
- Interwoven Processes - Traits and situation and culture are interwoven. The processes are dynamic over time, such that continuing the same behavior given shifts in the market, culture, and local will not be effective.
- Complexity Theory - New models of complexity and chaos theory suggest that leader skills, traits, behaviors interact with processes that are subject to catastrophe and spinning into the abyss. Leadership is interpenetrated with the dance of order and dynamic interconnectedness of self-organizing systems (Wheatley, 1992).
- Genealogy - I appears that each generation invents a set of traits their leaders must absolutely possess for them to be recognized and anointed as leaders. The traits of the Robber Baron, while still respected must now be camouflaged in the mask Trust and Spirituality to gain maximum effectiveness. No one cares how tall or beautiful they are, such things matter little in an electronic age, where morphing and simulation rule.
- Ascent or Maintenance - Gouldner argues that trait research does not discriminate between traits that facilitate ascent to leadership versus those that maintain it (Gouldner, 1950 Studies in Leadership).
- Myers-Briggs- The archetype typologies of great leader traits do not agree where to put leaders such as Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt (to cite but a few).
- Theatrics - If we take a theatrics view of leadership, then the leader performs those traits that move the audience. The leader does not move too far away from the roles the spectators expect to see from their leader. Each generation, situation, country has its own expectations about the traits that define leaders. Industrial theatre broke with feudal, and postmodern theatre is trying to break with modern; each characterizes leaders with different traits.
THERE ARE OTHER PROBLEMS WITH TRAIT SCHOOL:
Should we select for dominance? "For example, `Do dominant individuals become leaders or do they become more dominant after they have successfully occupied a leadership position?´ If the first question applies, then it makes sense to select individuals for leadership positions with the dominance trait. If the second applies, then selection based on the trait is meaningless. Unfortunately, the trait approach does not answer this question" (Source).
Critiques of Trait and other approaches - outline format
Boje, David M. (2000a) Theatrics of Leadership Model. Where Figures 1 and 2 are explained.
Boje (2000b) Four Voices of Leadership.
Boje, David M. (2001) Myers-Briggs and Leadership.
Machiavelli, Niccolo (1518). Mandragola. See Mandragola: In Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others, ed. Allan Gilbert. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1965.
Machiavelli N, the Prince and the Discourses (translation by Luigi Ricci, revised by E R P Vincent), Random House, New York, 1950
Yukl, G. (1989). Managerial leadership: A review of theory and research. Journal of Management, 15: 251-289.
Life Colors - self -assessment