When one visualises an effective leader, the image is of amotivated, captivating individual who challenges situations, produces visionsof the future and inspires followers to achieve. Leadership in part is largelyabout the reciprocal relationship between a leader and their alertness to thepositive or negative reactions of followers (Hollander, 1978, p.2). Leaders canemerge from within a group as well as by formal appointment, additionally thesame leader can succeed in one context yet fail in another (Leavy & Wilson,1994). Organisations need successful leaders in order to achieve optimaleffectiveness and theories are used to stress the value of leadership, but moreimportantly help to reveal the implications of exactly what features are neededto be an effective leader. This critical analysis explores how extraversion,integrity, personal power and charisma are four mutually compatible features importantfor effective leadership because they facilitate increased performance.
Extraversion is considered the best predictor of effective leadership. It isone of the Big-Five personality traits which outlines the most salientcharacteristics of personality (Goldberg, 1992). Extraverts tend to be gregarious,assertive and happy (Robbins & Judge, 2017, p.180) making them skilful inhanding social situations. The reason why extraversion is a key featureimportant for an effective leader is because extraverts establish vision,motivate and inspire followers, thus creating a rich atmosphere.
Evidencesupports extraversion being the best predictor of an effective leader, forexample the outcome of Judge et al’s (2002) personality meta-analysis indicatesthat extraversion was the most “consistent correlate of leadership across studysettings and leadership criteria” (Judge et al, 2002, p.765). This is becauseextraversion had an estimated corrected correlation of = .31 making it thestrongest correlate of leadership out of all the Big-Five personality traits. Itis however, interesting to note that the findings also revealed that extraversionis more likely to facilitate leader emergence than leader effectiveness whichemphasises the importance of subordinates’ perception. High levels of extraversion are important for leaders to encourage long-termcommitment from followers. In fact, an extraverted leader is more likely toobtain social skills that facilitate managing relationships (Robbins &Judge, 2017, p.181).
This is key for being an effective leader becauseleadership is a process rather than a position whereby fostering relationshipsand implementing inspiration impacts positive results. Here, trait theoryidentifies how leadership is largely innate and consequently Bono & Judge(2004) build on their earlier personality meta-analysis and indicate howextraversion is the strongest and most consistent correlate of transformationalleadership (Bono & Judges, 2004, p.901). This evidence supports extraversionbeing a crucial factor for effective leadership as it proposes that thepersonality trait is useful in building rapport and inspiration in order toengage followers. Two central components of extraversion are affiliation andagency (Depue & Collins, 1999) which reinforce how extraversion is usefulfor an effective leader as valuing warm relationships and being sociallydominant are factors consistent with engaging followers which links to leadershipsuccess. Although extraversion is considered a key predictor of leadership effectiveness,a limitation of trait theory is its simplistic approach in failing to accountfor situational and environmental factors that may affect leadership success. Here,it is important to note how contrasting research suggests that in an unpredictablecontext it is actually introverts who make more effective leaders because they “listenand show greater receptivity” (Grant, 2010, p.1).
This alternative viewpoint exposesthe differences of situational contexts and coincides with the downside ofextraversion being impulsivity and engaging in risky behaviour (Robbins &Judge, 2017, p.181). Nonetheless, the researchand general consensus suggests that extraversion is a key predictor ofeffective leadership because it helps to establish vision and engage followers.Extraversion is linked to personal power which is another important feature foreffective leadership as they both generate commitment from followers whichhelps to improve performance. Personal power is a key feature important for an effective leader becauseleaders instigate power as a means of attaining goals.
There are two types ofpower, positional power is the power one has from the position they are in,whereas personal power resides in the individual regardless of position.Research on the use of different power bases suggests that effective leadersdepend more on personal power than positional power (Yukl, 2013, p.198) clarifyingwhy personal power is a notable feature for an effective leader. Personal power consists of expert power andreferent power which are two of the five power bases proposed by socialscientists French and Raven (1959) (Yukl 2013, p.191). Expert power is theability to influence through acquired expertise whereas referent power is one’sability to influence followers’ behaviour because the followers admire andrespect them (Lunenburg, 2012). Evidence from Pfeffer’s (1993) study suggeststhat a leader obtaining expert power results in internalised motivation and obtainingreferent power results in follower commitment (Lunenburg, 2012, p.6).
Thesefindings indicate how personal power relates to a climate of trust resulting ineffective outcomes because of a strong reciprocal relationship between leaderand follower. Personal power is considered to be a key feature for an effectiveleader because personal power is strongly linked to organisational performanceand commitment (Lunenburg, 2012, p.6).
This evidence is useful in understandingthat personal power is more of an approach rather than an attempt to manoeuvrecontrol. In effect, personal power is ultimately determined by followers ratherthan position power which is why it can make a leader effective.