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Leadership Traits, Personality Traits, and Effective Leadership

Leadership traits are subset of the personality traits (Zaccaro, 2007). Personality traits and characteristics are defined by many scholars, for example, as high energy level and stress tolerance, self-confidence, internal control orientation, emotional maturity and integrity, socialized power motivation, and low need for affiliation (Yukl, George, & Jones, 2010) and cognitive abilities, problem solving orientation, and high intelligence (Zaccaro, 2007), and competencies, and meta-competencies (Tubbs & Schulz, 2006). Among these, several attributes to the leadership effectiveness. According to Widener (2000), there are seven character traits of good leaders which are (a) integrity, (b) optimistic, (c) embraces changes, (d) risk taker, (e) tenacious, (f) catalytic, and (g) dedicated. Likewise, Yukl et al., (2010) explain that the specific traits within the personality traits that make a good leader include (a) Surgency (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism), (b) conscientiousness, (c) agreeableness, (d) adjustment, and (e) engaging the intellect.

These character traits build an effective leader, and good leader should possess these character traits. Additionally, to become an effective leader, other traits are also need to be considered such as the ability to leverage technology, to globalize and sense of internationalization, building excellence, and demonstration of emotional intelligence and active listening (Tubbs & Schulz, 2006). Basing on my own experience through 25 consecutive years of exercising leadership role, I believe these character traits can be learned.

Positive traits are considered for the effectiveness of the great leaders. According to the U.S. Air Force, leaders are trained to watch and understand the border between (a) strong and rude, (b) bold and bully, (c) proud and arrogant, (d) humble and timid, and (e) humorous and silly. When these borders are crossed, negative feedback occurs within the organization because, in an unbalanced relationship, tension will exist (Martinko, Harvey, & Douglas, 2007). In any organization, if executives plan to reduce the workforce in exercising leader’s responsibility to lead the organization through the tough time, the execution and the transition of this plan should be done properly and transparently because, without clear explanation, the employees will misunderstand the purpose and responsibility of the leaders, leading to an unbalanced relationship within the organization.

There is no doubt that leaders behave accordingly within the settings of the culture. Different cultures will have different behavior context and correspondence. Diversity in an organization including different ages, cultural background, education level, and nationality requires leaders to act and deal with the context of the multicultural perceptions. Any international company will face the same challenges. For example, Liane Pelletier has transformed the Alaska Communication Systems (ACS). Focusing on diversity, Pelletier successfully, resulted from the combination of her love of adventures and her expertise of a seasoned telecommunication executive, focused on customer and significantly transformed the company.



Tubbs, S., & Schulz, E. (2006). Exploring a taxonomy of global leadership competencies and metacompetancies. Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 8(2), 29–34.

Widener, C. (September, 2000) Seven character traits of extraordinary leaders. Top 7 business. Retrieved from

Yukl, G., George, J. M., & Jones, G. R. (2009). Leadership: Building sustainable organizations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). New York: Custom Publishing.

Zaccaro, S. (2007) Trait-based perspectives of leadership. American Psychologist, 62(1), 6–16.

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