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Relationship Between Personality and Leadership Style Essay

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Updated: Jun 21st, 2019


Business leaders are charged with the duty of ensuring that companies are run gainfully coupled with selecting a leadership style that will improve the workplace effectiveness. Initially, leadership was mistaken to belong to a certain group of persons who were born with leadership traits. This school of thought explains that leadership traits come naturally, and thus they cannot be learnt.

However, the contemporary business world has undergone major changes. Such changes are noticeable in the nature of businesses established specially the formation of companies, which requires leadership by professionals. This change has necessitated the need for professional leadership since business owners may not be competent enough to run their firms.

The separation of management and ownership has led to vigorous research on the area of leadership in a bid to inform leaders on the best practices on leading others (Eagly, Johannesen-Schmidt, and Engen 569). The type of leadership adopted by a manager varies from one organisation to another.

The major leadership styles exercised by managers are the participative leadership style, aristocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership styles. The type of leadership adopted dictates the success of a business. Research in the area of leadership indicates that personality and leadership are correlated.

This essay analyses the connection between leadership style and personality to come up with an informed conclusion on whether the two are correlated. The essay will also analyse leaders who have been successful in their management role due to their personality.

The relationship between personality and leadership

Businesses owners nowadays face the challenge of identifying the best type of leaders to hire. Companies dedicate huge amounts of money in training and developing talents amongst their staff including managers (Cable and Judge 198).

During interviews for managers, the aspect of personality features greatly, thus personality and personal traits are important aspects when selecting the best candidate (Johnson, Vernon, Harris, and Jang 27).

This assertion is a clear indication that personality plays a key role in leadership styles. There are four approaches to leadership, viz. the personal trait approach, knowledge approach, the style approach, and the situational approach.

The value of personality

Reputation of a prospective manager must be assessed during an interview. Assessing personality is a suitable forward planner of leadership aptitude, when viewed from two contexts, viz. the thinking capacity of the candidate and views by others about the leadership of the individual in question. The two aspects considered are the reaction of the individual candidate in times of good and poor performances.

The two aspects have become the evaluation aspects in the recent past as interviewers seek to measure the reaction of the interviewee in practice. The interviewers pose provoking questions to the interviewee in a bid to see the reaction when provoked (Eagly, Johannesen-Schmidt, and Engen 569).

The conducts or behaviours that one exhibits during hard moments tend to be covered up by well-performed social skills. However, poor management skills during hard times may affect the social life of a manager, who may then perform poorly in creating a culture of teamwork in an organisation. In addition, individuals who exhibit good practice outshine those with poor skills in handling difficulty situations during interviews.

Leaders with good personality use their social skills to hide their true nature and they are successful in their leadership, as they are capable of establishing unity and teamwork within the organisations that they serve (Johnson, Vernon, Harris, and Jang 27).

The trait model approach involves assessing an individual’s ability to provide good leadership based on his/her personal conduct and traits. Managers with good traits stand a higher chance of emerging the best in an interview as compared to their counterparts who have poor personality skills.

Some scholars connect successful leadership with good personality skills as such traits allegedly shape the attitudes of one’s subordinates, thus eliminating undesirable behaviours among employees (Cable and Judge 199). Leaders are the employees’ role models, and thus they will tend to take after their leaders.

A leader with good social skills will thus motivate his/her employees to adopt the same traits, thus enhancing the harmony amongst individual workers. This aspect works well for companies since for a business to be successful there must be teamwork in addition to good leadership.

On the other hand, the skills approach model recognises three aspects, viz. technical, human, and theoretical and it assumes that technical and theoretical leadership skills are acquirable, but not human skills (Eagly, Johannesen-Schmidt, and Engen 569).

However, this assertion does not imply that the skills model utterly ignores the significance of personality in leadership since the human component in the model takes in personal traits, which comprise personality, cognitive capability, and motivation of workers.

This approach explains that personal traits are important in leadership and they are only acquirable during childhood, and thus they cannot be developed during adulthood.

The style approach to leadership stresses on the significance of good behaviour in leadership (Cable and Judge 201). This approach advocates a behaviour that is different from an individual’s personal traits, thus raising question on whether an individual can exercise a behaviour that is different from his/her natural traits.

From the style approach, it can be concluded that the behaviour of a person determines his/her success in his/her leadership. Personal traits determine the kind of leadership that a manager exercises. However, some important characters are important in the success of leadership. The traits include –


Honesty is the most important trait that every leader should possess. It is the ability to admit a mistake whenever things do not work out as planned (Johnson, Vernon, Harris, and Jang 32). Unfortunately, most leaders fail in this area. Initially, there was an assumption that every leader was honest in his/her position. However, due to the rising cases of dishonesty, this assumption is no longer tenable.

Indisputably, a leader’s job includes that of experimenting new ideas. However, most leaders have a tendency of running from this responsibility for fear of failure.

However, a good leader has the ability to accept his/her mistakes, and thus s/he stands a better chance of influencing his/her followers into admitting their wrongs (Cable and Judge 199). Admitting one’s mistakes will increase the employees’ confidence on the leadership offered coupled with creating a good image in the outside world.

Forward – looking

A forward-looking leader has the ability to set goals in advance that he/she intends to achieve. This trait underscores the ability of a leader to create a vision on his or her intentions and communicating the vision to all persons involved in making it a success. Every good leader should make time for planning and strategizing on the future of the organisation.

The leader should then communicate the vision to his/her subordinates and put in place the necessary strategies aimed at achieving the vision (Eagly, Johannesen-Schmidt, and Engen 569).

Most leaders shy from communicating their vision to their subordinates for fear of failure. However, a good leader will communicate the vision without fear, since he or she is determined and ready to accept his/her mistakes and learn from them.


A leader is expected to demonstrate a high level of competency and expertise when performing his/her duties. Many people assume that holders of leadership positions are competent. However, this assumption has to be demonstrated through action. Competency is well displayed by the cause of action chosen in different situations.

However, this aspect does not mean that leaders have to be experts in all disciplines, but they need to exercise reasonable degree of expertise in their decisions (Cable and Judge 197). This aspect will boost the employees’ confidence on their leadership and influence their attitude towards their duties.

In demonstrating competency, one has to be careful not to act in a manner that will undermine other people in the organisation, as this move will lead to disconnectedness and fallouts within the workplace.

A leader must skilfully handle the process in a manner that recognises the contributions of other team players. This way, the leader’s competency will be demonstrated indirectly while at the same maintaining harmony in the team that contributed to the success.

Inspiring trait

The other important trait that is evident in great leaders is the inspiring trait. This aspect involves motivating employees and influencing their attitudes towards their responsibilities in an organisation. Such leaders encourage others to see the positive side of life and finding a sense of purpose in their task (Eagly, Johannesen-Schmidt, and Engen 569).

This trait may be demonstrated in the form of celebrating the achievement realised due to hard work on the part of the employees. This way, a sense of involvement is created amongst employees, which may go a long way in motivating workers to work even harder to achieve the set targets.

Northouse approach

Northouse analysis cites Intelligence, self-confidence, determination, and Integrity as the key traits that leaders should possess (Northouse 80). However, his explanation of the traits correlates with the explanation of the aforementioned traits. For example, in his discussion on determination, he points out that a determined leader is one who sets a goal and puts in place the necessary measures to achieve it.

This explanation is too close to that of forward looking trait. He also cites competency as an additional trait necessary in the day-to-day running of a business (Johnson, Vernon, Harris, and Jang 27). In light of this analysis, it is evident that the two approaches agree on most areas and they only disagree on few matters.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is a good example of a leader who has skilfully succeeded in implementing the aforementioned qualities in her day-to-day responsibilities. The leadership traits are evident, as she has served as a team leader in the Oprah Winfrey Show for more than 20 years. She is also the CEO of Oprah Company. She has demonstrated competency as has been in a position to run the show for over two decades.

In her career as a T.V presenter, she has successfully attracted viewers from all over the world. This aspect is a clear indication that people find competency and honesty in her leadership model. During her tenure as a T.V presenter, her trait of honesty come out clearly, as whenever she advertised a product, people would embrace it in large numbers.

This aspect is a good indicator that she inspired many people through her personality. In addition, she acted with competence and honesty to achieve her goals. She must have had a plan, strategized, and communicated the same to her team along the way to her success, which demonstrates her forward-looking trait.


Leadership involves giving directions to subordinates. The success or failure of a business depends on the leadership where good leadership guarantees success of a business. A leader should be expected to be of high dignity and integrity and s/he should possess the skills necessary to provide quality leadership. Personal traits determine the kind of leadership that a leader exercises.

Good personal traits are predictive of a successful leadership. Personal traits of a leader are thus important aspects to consider while selecting the best candidate to fill a leadership position. Looking at a number of the keystone drivers of leadership approaches like style, situation, and skill, it is evident that personality plays a significant role in leadership.

However, more research on the role of personal traits in leadership should be carried out to facilitate predictions of leadership success.

When filling leadership positions, the hiring panel should thus consider factors like emotional unsteadiness, low drive, as well as deficiency of preciseness that can be used to disqualify an aspirant in an interview. After this process, interviewers should then evaluate the interviewees’ technical skills and ability to adapt to different situations in order to make informed decisions.

Works Cited

Cable, Daniel, and Timothy Judge. “Managers’ upward influence tactic strategies: The role of manager personality and supervisor leadership style.” Journal of Organisational Behaviour 24.2 (2003): 197-214. Print.

Eagly, Alice, Mary Johannesen-Schmidt, and Marloes Engen. “Transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership styles: a meta-analysis comparing women and men.” Psychological bulletin 129.4 (2003): 569 – 572. Print.

Johnson, Andrew, Philip Vernon, Julie Harris, and Kerry Jang. “A behaviour genetic investigation of the relationship between leadership and personality.” Twin Research 7.1 (2004): 27-32. Print.

Northouse, Peter. Leadership: Theory and Practice, London: Sage, 2013. Print.

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