part 1: Three Leaders who Personify Different leadership traits
determination: malala yousafzai
One of the most determined people I’ve ever heard about, Malala Yousafzai has overcome uncountable obstacles and remained brave throughout massive amounts of adversity to cement her place as one of the most outspoken advocates for female education in Pakistan. At 16 years old, she has risked her life over and over to stand up for what she believes is right; even after being shot on her way home from school in 2012, she has refused to back down. She is the youngest person to have ever received a Nobel Peace Prize and has been on Time’s list of 100 Most Influential People multiple times, most recently on their 2015 list.
Malala exercises determination in combination with fortitude, intelligence, perseverance, and unbelievable boldness, and is one of the best examples of a natural leader I can come up with.
self-confidence: Laverne cox
I think Laverne Cox, an outspoken transgender individual and activist, is a great example of a leader with self-confidence, mostly because she had to work to get that confidence and continues to work to inspire it in other transgender men and women. Growing up transgender is an incredibly difficult experience — they often experience harassment, bullying, and even violent crime directed at them simply because they are transgender (Loyd 2015). Being able to overcome that and still remain confident in who you are is incredibly impressive and shows an uncommon amount of fortitude and self-confidence.
integrity: emma watson
Everyone knows the stereotype of the child star who falls out of the spotlight until they turn up ten years later and become a bane upon society. Emma Watson does more than defy that stereotype; she destroys it. Despite having been famous since she first played Hermione in the Harry Potter movies at 11 years old, Watson has never allowed herself to become complacent or lapse into scandal. After finishing one of the most famous movie franchises of all time, Watson went on to attend Brown University and started serving as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. Her exemplification of integrity can be summed up in just one of her quotes:
“I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.”
Part 2: Leadership Trait questionnaire Results
3. Leadership trait questionnaire questions
a. Do you agree or disagree with the results? Why?
The ones I disagree with
As you can see by comparing my self-rating with the average rating of the people I surveyed, there are a few traits on which we agree very closely and a few that have larger discrepancies. Going by the .5-point difference, the traits on which we disagree the most are perceptiveness, self-confidence, friendliness, and sensitiveness.
I was going to go through and list the reasons why each individual trait was different, but I think there is one core reason all these traits are so differently rated by myself and those whom I asked to complete the survey: they are primarily to do with how my actions and words are perceived by others. I consistently rated myself lower in all of these areas, which probably means I’m not very good at judging what others think of me. My view of myself as a shy, closed person (which is probably outdated – I’ve changed a lot since coming to college) is infringing on my judgment of how I act in social situations.
The ones I agree with
There are a few traits that the five outside raters and myself were spot on in our agreement, and those were diligent and dependable (empathetic was also extremely close). I view these as a few of my primary traits, and I’m not surprised they emerged as the most prominent parts of my personality. I also think these are a few of the easiest things to outwardly exhibit; if you’re not dependable, the people around you figure that out very quickly. Being diligent is also very similar to being dependable, and it’s very easy to figure out who is diligent and who isn’t, especially when you’re around them in a school setting.
b. how does the knowledge of traits affect your definition of leadership, if at all?
My definition of leadership, as I stated in my last blog post, is “when a person or group of people take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire followers to work together to achieve a common goal.” This definition doesn’t really take into account the trait perspective of leadership, but as we discussed in class, traits do play a role in the formation of leaders and the way in which they lead. However, I don’t think that whether or not you have a certain trait is a be-all, end-all decisive factor in whether or not you’re capable of being a leader; a lot of leadership is situational. Sometimes people who never thought of themselves as leaders find themselves in charge — and even doing a good job. A classic example is Moses from the Bible (Brooks 2014).
That being said, there are a few things that many studies consistently find in people that occupy leadership positions: dependability, intelligence, self-confidence, adaptability, and ability to communicate, among others (Bader, Kemp, and Zacarro, 2003). With such a large body of research behind it, it’s hard to argue that the trait approach is entirely nonsensical.I do believe that people sometimes do not exhibit these traits until they find themselves in a situation, either that they were forced into or that they chose to participate in, that requires them to step up and become a leader. I think that this idea is already evident in my current definition of leadership, and so am not inclined to make any changes.
c. HOW DOES THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRAITS AFFECT how you see yourself as a leader, IF AT ALL?
Part of the reason I’m less inclined to put faith in the trait approach to leadership is because I often feel as if I don’t fit the traditional idea of what traits a leader should have. I’m often quiet and reserved, and I don’t always have the confidence in myself to take charge and impose my will on others. I prefer a more democratic approach to leadership; I like to listen to everyone’s opinions and then approach them as a group from a logical perspective to see whose ideas are the most feasible in any given situation.
Despite the fact that I’m weak in a few traits that are often considered integral to effective leadership, I still think that I am capable of being an effective leader, especially in situations in which I have confidence in my abilities (this happens much more often in academic situations than it does in social ones). I think my determination and conscientiousness allow me to overcome my shortcomings in self-confidence when I see that it is necessary to do so in order to get the job done.
D. what traits, if any, do you need to acquire to be a better leader?
I think the traits I most need to develop in order to become a better leader are empathy and self-confidence.
Even before I took the leadership trait questionnaire I knew that I needed to work on my empathy in professional situations. I work incredibly hard on everything I put my mind to, and I frequently become frustrated if I feel that others don’t put in the same amount of effort, especially in the context of a group project. I need to keep in mind that everyone is balancing classes, work, social lives, family, and who knows what else, and that getting frustrated is not helpful in any situation. Showing empathy toward people rather than getting frustrated will improve not only others’ perception of me and the group’s performance as a whole, but it will also improve my perception of myself.
Self-confidence is something I have been working on since a very young age. It’s not that I lack confidence entirely; however, I have a tendency to second-guess and doubt myself. This is more of an issue in social situations than in professional ones, but it affects the way others perceive me and makes them less likely to see me as a leader, so it is something I need to continue working on.