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Leadership and Personality

Introduction

There are wide and various definitions of leadership. Although there has been no single definition of leadership, the term is commonly categorized under transactional and transformational dimensions that are applicable and acceptable across different cultures and continents (Lambert, 2002). Studies have indicated a direct link between leadership styles and personality traits stating that a leader is not solemnly identified by his/her leadership styles but more on their personality characteristic, their awareness, appreciation of others and flexibility. A leader is expected by the society to behavior in a particular manner in accordance with the societal norms and values. There is no single basic pattern of personality traits of leaders since all leaders' possess different and unique personalities. This paper discusses the dynamicity of personality traits with the special focus on leadership point of view and how the two concepts inter-link.

Personality is defined as a unique blend of traits that defines an individual and influences their interaction with others and their environment (Bilsky & Schwartz, 1994). There are over seven billion people on the continent and all possess unique traits, none is alike. Personality is dynamic; it changes according to changes in the internal and external environments. People are constantly changing their way of life, their way of thinking and behaviors; this is because everybody is trying to fit in somewhere.

Leadership is frequently dependant on personality traits. Leaders have followers and need to interact with their followers. Leaders engage with people of different personalities, some followers are outgoing and outspoken while others are quiet and introspective. As a leader, one should be able to distinguish these different personalities of their followers and appreciate the uniqueness. A leader should understand personality traits to properly adjust leadership styles to effective management of different situations. A good leader should aim at achieving constant high results and at the same time, bring out the best in each individual. Research shows that there is a direct link between personality traits and job performance. A leader should spot the different traits and assign the jobs and delegations according to individual abilities as portrayed by a person's personality (Judge, Bono, Ilies, & Gerhardt, 2002).

Leaders constantly need to expand their understanding of leadership and sharpen their leadership skills. Different leaders display different leadership styles and skills. Each leader has a unique personality and as a leader, one should understand his/her personality and how to incorporate it into leadership. The most common personality traits associated with good leadership are integrity, honestly, good judgment, intelligence, compassionate and self-confidence. An effective leader should be able to use and blend these traits to build up better leadership. People believe in leaders that "do what they preach" and as a leader, one should be able to meet the societal expectations by ensuring that they live up to the set standards. A leader with a higher blend of good personal traits has better and more influence on his followers.

Conclusion

Leadership is not only about having a vision and clear-targeted goals; it is also about empowering and influencing your followers to achieve the goals. Leaders have a responsibility to mentor and nurture their followers along the right paths. Personality displays the character traits of an individual. As a leader, people look up to u to give them a guideline to follow and make sound decisions. Personality traits such as good judgment will aid a leader to make good decisions. Followers learn from their leaders' actions and not from mere words. Therefore, a leader should always ensure that he displays the best of his/her traits and this starts with a leader understanding his/her strengths and weaknesses. Leaders who show initiative to interact with their followers expect a shared trust and positive relations.