Research on Leadership Traits

A good overview is found in two surveys completed by Stogdill in 1948 and 1974. In his first survey, he analyzed and synthesized more than 124 trait studies conducted between 1904 and 1947.

The first summation done in 1948 found that leaders differed from other group members in terms of

  • intelligence,
  • alertness,
  • insight,
  • responsibility,
  • initiative,
  • persistence,
  • self-confidence, and
  • sociability

In his second study, done in 1974, he analyzed 163 studies completed between 1948 and 1970.

The second summation, found leaders having the following ten characteristics:

  • drive for responsibility and task completion;
  • vigor and persistence in pursuit of goals;
  • "venturesomeness" and originality in problem solving;
  • drive to exercise initiative in social situations;
  • self-confidence and sense of personal identity;
  • willingness to accept consequences of decision and action;
  • readiness to absorb interpersonal stress;
  • willingness to tolerate frustration and delay;
  • ability to influence other people's behavior; and
  • the capacity to structure social interaction systems to the purpose at hand.


Sirje Virkus, Tallinn University, 2009