Over the past several years, one of the most important contributions psychology has made to the field of business has been in determining the key traits of acknowledged leaders. Psychological tests have been used to determine what characteristics are most commonly noted among successful leaders. This list of characteristics can be used for developmental purposes to help managers gain insight and develop their leadership skills.
The increasing rate of change in the business environment is a major factor in this new emphasis on leadership. Whereas in the past, managers were expected to maintain the status quo in order to move ahead, new forces in the marketplace have made it necessary to expand this narrow focus. The new leaders of tomorrow are visionary. They are both learners and teachers. Not only do they foresee paradigm changes in society, but they also have a strong sense of ethics and work to build integrity in their organizations.
Raymond Cattell, a pioneer in the field of personality assessment, developed the Leadership Potential equation in 1954. This equation, which was based on a study of military leaders, is used today to determine the traits which characterize an effective leader. The traits of an effective leader include the following:
Beyond these basic traits, leaders of today must also possess traits which will help them motivate others and lead them in new directions. Leaders of the future must be able to envision the future and convince others that their vision is worth following. To do this, they must have the following personality traits:
Overall, leaders are larger than life in many ways. Personal traits play a major role in determining who will and who will not be comfortable leading others. However, it's important to remember that people are forever learning and changing.
Leaders are rarely (if ever) born. Circumstances and persistence are major components in the developmental process of any leader. So if your goal is to become a leader, work on developing those areas of your personality that you feel are not "up to par". For instance, if you have all of the basic traits but do not consider yourself very much of a "people" person, try taking classes or reading books on empathy. On the other end, if relating to others has always come naturally to you, but you have trouble making logical decisions, try learning about tough-mindedness and how to develop more psychological resistance. Just remember, anyone can do anything they set their mind to.
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