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Leadership Is the Art of Influencing Other People

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Leadership is termed as the process of influencing either an individual or a group’s activities in order to achieve stipulated goals in a given situation. Leadership can also be defined as the art of influencing other people; thus, to maximize their overall performance in order to accomplish a given task, project or objective; hence, it involves the act of mobilizing individuals to want to achieve shared goals and aspiration (Kirimi, 2007). As such, a leader is an individual that guides and directs other individuals or a group towards achieving a shared goal. For leaders to be successful, having positive leadership traits is critical as it leads to effective leadership; in term followers’ performance and satisfaction as well as the leader’s overall effectiveness, which translates to improved organizational performance. This paper evaluates and compared a number of selected leadership traits which include self-confidence, humility, core self-evaluations, trustworthiness, authenticity, assertiveness, sense of humor, and emotional intelligence.

Generally, leadership traits refers to integrated patterns; thus, of personal characteristics that not only reflect a range of individual differences but also fosters consistent effectiveness of leaders across a wide variety of both group and organizational situations (Zaccaro 2007). Furthermore, leadership traits can also be defined as dimensions of a leader’s individual differences; thus, in tendencies to exhibit or rather show consistent patterns of feelings, thoughts, as well as actions (Baum, Newman & Weinman, 2007). Generally, research indicates that positive leadership traits such as humility, self-confidence, trustworthiness, authenticity, core self-evaluations, assertiveness, emotional intelligence are associated with employee motivation, increased employee performances, improved organizational performance,

Discussion and Evaluation of Leadership Traits

Confidence exists as the cornerstone of leaderships and one of the most influential motivators as well as regulators of behaviors among leaders. Generally, in accordance to Axelrod, (2017), confidence is termed as a person ’s level of certainty regarding his/her ability to perform specific tasks or rather to handle things. The term self-confidence is also used for the purpose of describing an individual’s perceived capability; thus, to accomplish a given performance level. Generally, self-confidence has two major aspects which include general and specific confidence, concerning this, general confidence is defined as self confidence that involves with people’s beliefs as well as judgements regarding their ability to perform well irrespective of both the task and the context (Axelrod, 2017).

On the other hand, specific confidence to a great extent reflects people’s beliefs as well as feeling regarding their ability to perform certain tasks being faced at a particular point in time. Therefore, both self and specific confidence to a great extent are both built primarily on people’s judgements regarding their performance. However, according to Axelrod, (2017), self-confidence differs from general confidence because it is a state of the mind which to a great extent alter in a way after every new experience.

Generally, self-confidence plays a critical role in not only the leader’s thoughts but also feelings, behavior and job performance through a personal or rather internal psychological mechanism termed as self-leadership. Generally, there are a number of ways in which self-confidence affects leader’s behavior, concerning this, confidence plays a critical role in the psychological empowerment of leaders influencing their willingness; thus, to take charge or rather control of their work consequently, functioning autonomously and also being more independent on their decision making and behavior (Axelrod, 2017). In relation to this, research indicates that self-confident leaders tend to perform effectively, and are more likely to effectively manage performance problems in the organization because such leaders tend to not only work directly with their subordinate staff.

Confident leaders tend to embrace the risks that come with challenging the status quo, in relation to this, research indicates that leaders with strong self-confidence usually have positive expectations therefore, they are more willing to take risks that many other leaders might avoid, this, in turn has been shown to maximize organizational performance. Research further indicates that confidence also to a great extent enhances motivate while at the same time engendering an individual’s overall persistence on perusing organizational goals (Axelrod, 2017). This therefore enables leaders to generate goals consequently, building commitment not only in achieving the goal but also to a high performance level. Research further indicates that there exists a natural tendency; thus, to trust leaders that appear highly confidence, these leaders are also more likely to transform their followers into self-directed individuals through empowerments which translates to better organizational performance (Antonakis, Cianciolo & Sternbergs, 2004).

Another core leadership trait is humility which refers to the act of suppressing an individual’s innermost desire to gain recognition or rather shine a spotlight on their efforts and achievement. Humility in an organizational context is also defined as the act of an individual admitting that he lacks knowledge about everything and certainly cannot do everything, in addition to admitting one’s mistakes to team members (DuBrin, 2015). Humility can also be defined as having low self-regard as well as a sense of unworthiness, therefore, a humble leaders is one who has a low or rather modest view of his/her importance. In accordance to Shellenbarger, research indicates that humility exists as a major quality of organizational leaders that inspire close teamwork, rapid learning hours as well as high performance in their employees. Research further indicates that humble leaders tend to be highly aware of their weaknesses which in, turn aids them in not only improving but also appreciating other employees’ strengths in addition to focusing on goals; thus, beyond their own self-interest (Shellenbarger, 2018).

Research indicates that organizational leaders that lack humility tend to handle problems since they are better and do everything better than other individuals. This in turn creates problems particularly in the group or rather team context where every team/group member is expected to make contributions; thus, towards a common goal. Furthermore, leaders that lack humility also tend to take credit; thus, for other employees’ accomplishment, fail to take responsibility for their mistakes and instead blame others, and in most instances manipulate information in an effort to make themselves look better which, in, turn makes it difficult for employees to trust such leaders. As such, humility can aid leaders establishing a somewhat good reputation by not only treating other individuals fairly but also being highly accountable, ensuring honest communication and acknowledging one’s mistakes (Andrew, 2018). Overall, humility aids in creating a highly positive environment which to a great extent makes it easier to facilitate collaboration as well as build trust which translates to better organizational performance.

Another important trait is self-evaluation, generally, core-self-evaluation to a great extent refers to a broad personality trait that usually captures what can be termed as bottom line self-assessment. Concerning this, self-evaluation comprises of a number of traits such as self-esteem, emotional stability, generalized self-efficacy and locus of control, generally, these traits are usually positively related to each other (DuBrin, 2015). Self-esteem and generalized self-efficacy traits involves feeling positive; thus, towards self, locus of control involves the feeling of being personally responsible for the occurrence of events which aids a leader developing a take-charge attitude while on the other hand, emotional stability is defined as having emotional control and as such, having good mental health. According to DuBrin, (2015), a leader with the positive self-evaluation to a great extent are more like to not only make decisions more rapidly but also pursue different initiatives required in the implementation of decisions.

Furthermore, research indicates that leaders with these leadership traits tend to feel more confident, remain steady under extreme pressure, and believe that they have the ability to control their environment (DuBrin, 2015). Research further indicates that the core self-evaluation traits also aid leaders in working diligently thereby, achieving goals which leads to improved organizational performance, aids leaders in handling of difficult employees consequently, transforming them into highly productive and performing teams, as well as handling organizational crises rapidly and also smoothly (Reilly, 2013).

The term trust is defined as an individual’s confidence; thus, in another person’s motives, actions as well as the sincerity of their words. Generally, trustworthiness is a critical leadership trait, this trait refers to the act of earning other people’s trust which is an essential leadership trait. In relation to this, in accordance to DuBrin, 2015 the quality of being trustworthy contributes significantly to leadership effectiveness, in addition, it is also associated with higher levels of organizational performance. Regarding this, a trustworthy leader is expected to “walk the talk” thereby, showing great consistency between their actions or rather deed with their words. Trust is highly connected to transparency as it involves leaders being open as opposed to being secretive about their actions that affect the welfare of different stakeholders such as employees. Since most staff have a tendency distrusting their leaders particularly the top level leaders, it is critical for leaders to grain as well as maintain trust.

In accordance to research conducted by Dirks & Ferrin on the effects of a leader’s perceived trustworthiness, indicated that trusting an organizational leader was highly associated with many work attitudes which included more job satisfaction, less turnover rates due to less intention to leave an organization, more commitment to the organization, as well a more satisfaction with the organization’s leader (Ferrin & Dirks, 2002). Research conducted by Asencio, (2016), indicates that when a leader is trusted by the organization’s employees, this is usually positively associated with organizational performance, whereby, it leads to better organizational performance. Concerning this, research indicates that trust in a leaders results in increased employee commitment to organizational goals, allows ideas to flow freely within the organization, enhances the communication process, and increases the creativity levels, while also streamlining change processes in the organization where employees are more willing to embrace new vision and change.

Another important leadership trait is authenticity which refers to the trait of being trustworthy, genuine as well as honesty with regard to one’s personality, beliefs, as well as values while also maintaining high integrity levels. In accordance to DuBrin 2015, authentic leaders tend to demonstrate a passion; thus, for their purpose, lead with their heads and hearts, practice the organizational values consistently, tend to establish meaningful relationships with their subordinates and maintain high self-discipline levels in order to achieve results. In accordance to research, being an authentic leader is critical in establishing a long-term positive environment. Furthermore, having authentic leaders is associated with greater commitment to the organization among employees and increased job performance (DuBrin, 2015).

On the other hand, assertiveness is defined as the quality of being forthright when expressing one’s beliefs, demands, opinions, as well as feelings. Generally, being assertive aids leaders in not only performing tasks but also achieving organizational goals, this, includes demanding better or rather higher performance from the staff members, setting greater expectations in addition to making more legitimate demands; thus, on the higher management. Other important leadership traits include sense of humor which involves the quality of being humorous or rather perceiving comical things. In relation to this, research indicates that humor is a critical trait because it adds to not only the approachability of the leaders, this is because humor serves functions such as relieving and dissolving tension in the workplace, defusing hostility, as well as relieving boredom. Since humor to a great extent aids in dissolving tension, this aids the leader to exert power over the group, furthermore, self-enhancing humor also enhances a leader’s acquisition of power primarily by increasing the leader’s overall appeal.

However, a leader’s humors should be controlled because aggressive humor can also be used for the purpose of victimizing, belittling as well as causing disparagement to employee all of which result to negative organizational outcomes such as stress and counter hostility actions among the team members.

In conclusion, another important leadership trait is emotional intelligence which refers to the ability of an individual to fully understand as well as manage his/her emotions including those of other individuals (Wharam, 2009). Generally, research indicates that leaders with emotional intelligence are able to inspire others, communicate effectively, build relationships with organizational staff members, this trait also aids in diffusing conflicts, improving relationships, and also in managing one’s negative or rather disruptive emptions. Furthermore, emotional intelligence is also an important leadership trait that aids leaders in improving problem solving capabilities as well as management of employees.

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