Strengths of Trait Approach

The trait approach focuses on the leader and not on the followers or the situation. This approach is concerned with what traits leaders exhibit and who has these traits. It assumes that it is the leader and his/her personality that are central to the leadership process. For organizations it means that selecting the right people will increase organizational effectiveness. The managers can also analyze their own traits and understand their strengths and weaknesses and how others see them in organization (Northouse, 2007, p.23-24).

Northouse (2007, p.24) lists the strengths of the traits approach as follows:

1) It supports the general image in the society that leaders are a special kind of people who can do extraordinary things. People have a need to see their leaders as gifted people, and the trait approach fulfills this need.

2) A second strengths is that the trait approach has a long research tradition and a significant body of research data that support this approach.

3) The trait approach focuses only on the leader and analysis very thoroughly this component in the leadership process.

4) The trait approach has given us some benchmarks for what we need to look for if we want to be leaders.

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the trait approach. several researchers have tried to explain how traits influence leadership. Northouse (2007, p.16) notes that the trait approach began with an emphasis on identifying the qualities of great person; next, it shifted to include the impact of situations on leadership, and most currently, it has shifted back to reemphasize the critical role of traits in effective leadership. 

Sirje Virkus, Tallinn University, 2009