After reading this chapter you should be able to:
This chapter encourages you to think about and evaluate yourself as a leader. By exploring several of the basic leadership concepts and theories it provides you with some tools for describing and analysing your leadership approach. The chapter starts by considering your personality, arguing that personality has implications for the leadership approaches with which we feel most comfortable, both in terms of adoption of our own leadership style and in terms of the leadership that we prefer from others. The two subsequent sections introduce traditional approaches to discussing leadership using leadership traits and styles. Although some would argue that these approaches are simplistic they are still widely used in popular discussion of leadership and can help us to think about what we mean by leadership. The next sections explore key aspects of leadership approaches including communication and emotional intelligence. Finally the chapter opens the debate on the issue of gender in leadership.
Personality and leadership
Before we can understand the approaches that we and others adopt as leaders it is important to understand leaders and potential leaders as people. Theories about personality are one way of understanding who we are, how to describe ourselves, and recognizing how we differ from others. Personality describes the properties of our behaviour that are stable and enduring and which distinguish us from others. There is a widespread belief that personality is related to job performance and career success.
A number of personality theorists have attempted to create a description of the components and structure of personality. There are two main approaches, those that focus on personality types and those that focus on personality traits.