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JCC Good Leadership

Leadership traits, motives and characteristics
Coaching and leadership
Transformational leadership
Contingency and situational leadership
Ethical leadership
Leadership traits, motives and characteristics
Nelson Mandela
What is leadership?
Soichiro Honda
Self Assessment: Jay Muleya
Self Assessment: Chris Musoma
Self Assessment: Colin Richardson
Julius Caesar

By Chris Musoma

Leadership traits, motives and characteristics


In understanding leadership, it’s important to have a clear understanding of traits, characteristic, and behaviors of leaders. Traits are very closely related to how we perceive others to be leaders for example if we see a confident and charismatic person we perceive them to be good leaders. Effective leaders must have cognitive skills, relationship with subordinates and personality traits and characteristics. (DuBrin& Ireland, page 270).


Effective leadership Traits

Leadership traits are stable patterns of behaviours and consistent internal states that explain a person’s behavioural tendencies. A leader needs to have Self-confidence Emotional Stability, Sense of humour, enthusiasm, warmth, high tolerance for frustration, self-awareness, self-objectivity, trustworthiness, dominance, extroversion, and assertiveness. How determining which set of traits and characteristics are important will depend on the situation. For example enthusiasm may be more important to a sells manager than a stock manager.


Listed below are the traits and characteristics that are associated with leadership efficiency


Self confidence. Leaders need to believe in their leadership skills and ability to achieve objectives. Self confidence also instils confidence among the subordinates. In a group members will follow a leader who is confident and who seems to know what they are doing, while a manager who is not confident but tries to act confident will be seen as working under pressure (DuBrin& Ireland, page 272).


Assertiveness. A leaders needs to be straightforward in expressing their opinions, feelings, demand and attitude, as it helps them to attain their objectives. This may include demanding high performance from workers and correcting them on their mistakes (DuBrin& Ireland, page 272, avoiding being aggressive.


Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm helps a leader build good relationship with his group members, as employees perceive it as a reward for doing something right. Enthusiasm may be expressed verbally or nonverbally though handshakes, or touching (DuBrin& Ireland, page 272).


Power Motive. Power motive leaders spent a lot of time thinking in how to alert the thinking and behaviour of others, act with vigor and determination, and care bout their personal standing with those around them. This is very important as it show that the leader is keen on influencing others (DuBrin& Ireland, page 272).



Need for Achievement. This refers to a strong desire to achieve things for their own sake. In the attempt to finish and get things done on time acts as a force for innovation.

Sense of Humour. A sense of humour relieves boredom and tension. A sense of humour can also defuse hostile situations. It also makes the leader more approachable (DuBrin& Ireland, page 270).

Leadership Motives

Leadership motive are the reasons or what drives individuals to be leaders this are:

Power Motive

 This is the need to control other people, be responsible for them and influence their behavior. Leaders are also motivated by the need to control resources. This is also a key motivator for success.

Drive & Achievement Motivation

Individuals become leaders because the get Joy in accomplishment for its own sake. They are usually thinking of how to do a job better and how they can progress in their career. The need for achievement or to excel in their work place is because they are interested in the monetary reward that come with it.

Strong Work Ethic

 There are people who generally belief in dignity of work. This type of people end up being leaders as a result of their strong work ethics. This type of leaders believe that a group task is worthwhile, and hence gain the support for the leadership position.

Tenacity This is the Wilful Determination of a leader to achieve something, usually there might be a problem that is persisting at the time and they have the urge to solve it.


Cognitive Traits

In order to be an effective leader one must have Cognitive traits. These are mental abilities and knowledge. Five cognitive skills that are particularly important are knowledge of the task/Business, creativity, insight into people and situation, openness to new experience, and  farsightedness and conceptual thinking.

Knowledge of the Task/Business

Knowledge of the task/ Business is important as they are the skills required by a leader to complete specialised task. Its known that Intelligent leaders make more effective plans, strategies, and decisions than to less intelligent ones. It would be very hard for leader to gain subordinate respect if they if they don’t understand the technical details of their work


Leaders should posses an effective problem solving ability or intelligence. Creative of a leader also give the organisation a completive advantage age.

Insight into People & Situations

Effective leaders must have the ability to read staff and the situation. This comes in handy when it comes to assigning jobs or choosing group leaders.

Farsightedness and conceptual thinking

This is the ability to think in abstract terms, i.e. to being able to simplify complex situations and determine the correct solution. A farsighted leader is one who can set long term goal that they need to achieve and know where they want the organisation to be in future. This also gives guideline to the members on the way forward.

Openness to Experience.

A effective leader should show willingness to experiment with unproven methods and approaches. The leader should be open to the subordinates suggestion, and encourage group work as this motivates the members and feel part of the successes.



Strengths and limitation to the Trait approach


Trait approach has convincing evidence that leaders possess personal characteristics that differ from non-leaders, it also provides a criteria for leadership selection and can help persons prepare for leadership responsibility


This approach may not hold as different situations will need different traits hence we cant determine which traits are absolutely needed. Ambition is a good trait for a leader but determining how much is enough is very had. The trait approach create an image of an ideal leader hence this may discourage potential leaders from pursuing leadership roles.



DuBrin, J., Andrew, &Ireland R. Duane (1993) Management & Organisation (2nd ED) south-western Publishing CO. Cincinnati Ohio


Mcshane, S& Travaglione (2003) Organisational Behaviour on the pacific rim McGraw-hill Australia