Leadership Trait Theories

Ten Steps to Leadership Development
Step Three: Theory vs. Reality

Leadership Trait Theories – the importance of understanding theory versus reality.

Leadership theories are only substantiated or confirmed once ‘the rubber meets the road’, meaning positive results are produced and goals are achieved.

Good leadership goes above and beyond reaching the goal or objective. Under solid leadership, success is realized in a manner that positively wins the hearts and minds of your team members.

Short-term wins are fleeting. True success is realized once a leader has, over time, cultivated a team to develop a “habit of success”. The habit is present when daily accomplishments are simply a way of doing business. This “success habit” lifestyle is obvious in all great leaders.

Leadership trait theories talk a lot about what “success” is. For example, the achievement of a goal, the realization of a vision, etc. However, these examples miss the bigger picture of what success is all about.

In the end, success in life is determined by two things:

  1. The quality of your relationships.
  2. The quality of your contributions.

Certainly, no one lies on their deathbed wishing for more money or for more power.

When you look back on your own life, you will want to be able to be surrounded by a large group of people who you love, and who love you. In addition, you’ll want to know that throughout your life you made a positive difference. Therefore, relationships and contributions are truly what life is made of.

One of the greatest contributions you can make is to coach and mentor others to adopt higher standards and to achieve improved results. Great leaders understand that in order to be credible, they must model-the-way for their employees on a consistent basis.

Effective leaders encourage team members to cultivate strong connections with each other. Most importantly, great leaders hold all parties equally accountable for doing their part, sharing the load and making positive contributions to the team.

Another common point made in leadership trait theories is that there is no substitute for preparedness and hard work.

At some point, victory is almost always determined based on who wants it most. Who has prepared the most, and who was willing to do the work necessary to win!

In the early 1900’s, J.T. Munger said, “There is no road to success but through a clear, strong purpose. A purpose underlies character, culture, attainment of whatever sort.”

Base your leadership development planning only on those theories that are firmly supported with historic results. Don’t spend all your time trying to invent something when you can more easily implement a process or tool that someone else has already created, and has proven to be highly effective.

In conclusion, leadership trait theories provide aspiring leaders with blueprints of past successes. Utilize and fine tune these blueprints to ensure a more successful leadership experience for you, your team and your organization.

(Back to Step 2) (Go to Step 4)

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