The trait approach as an explanation of leadership in general

Trait Approach

The trait approach as an explanation of leadership in general 

 According to Germain, (2012) the trait approach to leadership focus on personal characteristics. It does not focus on sets of hypothesis, but its emphasis on the leader himself and his personality. The article asserts that the traits approach to leadership is associated with expertise. In other words, leaders who use traits such as self-confidence and social skills are experts. Some researchers and multiple studies have confirmed that experts are people who combine evidence-based characteristics and self-enhancement characteristics (Germain, 2012). The former means experts have knowledge, skills, training, decision strategies, and more. The latter means that experts have self-confidence, self-assurance, honesty and integrity, competency traits, ambition, and more.  The characteristics that create a connection between experts and leaders are; both have the intellectual ability, self-confidence, determination, and sociability (Germain, 2012).The article also states that leaders who use the trait approach are charismatic. Charisma is an exceptional talent, and a great style of leadership in that charismatic leaders take the risk, identify followers' needs, increase their competence and subordinate competence, they are energetic,  self-confident, and exemplary (Germain, 2012) Therefore, the trait approach allows leaders to do extraordinary things. Note that leaders who use the trait approach apply different traits and expertise, which can lead to performance improvement in different areas.

 Chen (2016) introduces a fundamental idea that personality traits motivate leaders to lead. Note that motivation to lead is influenced by an individual's natural tendency and a sense of duty. For example, the positive components of narcissistic personality traits such as self-esteem and self-sufficiency increase the positivity of self and motivate the leaders to lead. Since narcissists focus on achieving a higher positivity of the self, they will naturally lead to improve their positive esteem and achieve social approval. In addition, leaders with humility trait will use their strength and avoid self-contempt. In the leadership role, they will exhibit self-confidence and embrace leadership with identification (Chen, 2016). In general, leaders with humility character will be motivated to lead since they have to lead. They will always be humble, appreciative, empathetic, sincerely, honesty, and create a culture of fairness.


The trait approach to leadership within the criminal justice system

            Current empirical assessments have confirmed that leaders are not only using traditional styles such as autocratic, but they are also employing other sets of styles which are non-traditional. However, the policing scholarship has not employed the empirical knowledge to leadership, and thus, leadership in policing is understood through applying general theories of leadership. It is important to understand that the general theory of leadership put emphasis on traditional leadership styles, and they are associated with inconsistent findings due to lack of methodological designs. This means that traditional studies do not pay attention to the leader's behavior and development (Schafer, 2010). Most corporate leadership literatures are employing trait-based thinking. However, the policing focus on supervisory styles and pay less attention to individual traits and habits. The author asserts that leadership is poor in policing in that policing scholars support formal leadership and ignore the subjective elements in leaders' behaviors (Schafer, 2010). The criminal justice system uses a supervisory style, which is designed to influence subordinates. The big problem is that in American policing, there is no leadership development.  Even though the department demand for police learning and development, it remains unclear on how leadership can be developed. In general, there is no leadership effectiveness since the department does evaluate effective and ineffective leaders using the consensus model, which focus on goals accomplishment (Schafer, 2010). However, the author asserts that to achieve effective leadership, the policing department should use the objective perspective, which states that for leaders to achieve organizational objectives, they must apply their natural ability. Note that the present research does mean that leaders should apply their own characteristics on leadership, but it focuses on using leadership experiences to yield favorable outcomes (Schafer, 2010). In the criminal justice system, supervisors are taught to use classroom learning, field training, procedural competence, technical competency, and follow procedures. These elements tend to improve the technical knowledge and skills so that police can perform duties effectively.  However, the elements will not help police develop integrity, fairness, and ethics (Schafer, 2010). There are not taught to consider their interpersonal dynamics and behavioral aspect, which contributes to effective leadership. 







Chen, L. (2016). Linking leader personality traits to motivation to lead: A self-concept

approach. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal44(11), 1913-1925.


Germain, M. L. (2012). Traits and skills theories as the nexus between leadership and expertise:

Reality or fallacy?. Performance Improvement51(5), 32-39.


Schafer, J. A. (2010). Effective leaders and leadership in policing: traits, assessment,

development, and expansion. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies &

Management33(4), 644-663.




794 Words  2 Pages

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