Part 2: What Makes a Good Leader?
A. The Great Person Theory
1. Basic Idea: great leaders are born with special traits that allow them to take
2. What are these traits?
a) Longitudinal research: measure traits at time 1; see if any are related to leader
effectiveness in later time (time 2) in officer candidates in Canadian Armed Forces.
Candidates who scored high in dominance tended to become the best leaders
(dozens of traits were measured and this was the only one that emerged)
b) Retrospective research: find great leaders; look back to see what traits they
possessed (E.g. political leaders)
Canadian Prime Ministers: one trait emerged: "integrative complexity" = ability
to recognize and adopt multiple views of situation and integrate them (e.g. Trudeau)
American Presidents: no traits were related to leader effectiveness. Or maybe
three: (smart, messy, achievement oriented)
- Hundreds of traits have been measured, but very few are related to leader
- Different studies identify different traits (not much consistency in findings)
- So, not much support for the great person theory of leadership. Except…
4. Except for leaders "height" (not a "trait")
- Taller presidents tend to be rated as more effective leaders (E.g. Abe Lincoln was
6'4", classified as one of the USAs greatest presidents)
- Taller candidates are most likely to be elected president
- 1928 - 2012 taller candidate won in 18 of the 22 presidential elections (82% of the
- Also note: Managers in U.S. corporations (both male and female) are on average 1"
taller than non-managers. Maybe great person theory should be renamed to "great
big person theory" lol
Are there other factors that might be related to good leadership?
B. Good Leadership depends on the situation
1. Leader traits might be effective in one situation but not another situation. E.g.
- Integrative complexity of Canadian prime ministers went down in crisis situations
(became less effective leaders)
- Only a few became more IC in a crisis (E.g. Lester Pearson and the "Suez Canal"
- He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize (1957), he came up with the idea of "United
Nations Peace-keeping missions" (product of his IC thinking) 2. Characteristics of the workers (I-O Psych)
a) The Scientific Management approach: workers have to be "managed", why?
- Because they're lazy and dislike work; they need a leader who will force them to
- So, the best leader is one that will apply the necessary force (tell workers what to
do, watch them to make sure they do it, wont hesitate to apply threats and
punishment if workers don’t get the job done)
b) The Human Relations Approach:
- Inspired by Hawthorne Studies: at beginning, "management" approach was being
used (treat workers like children, workers were punished for dropping parts and
talking, and discouraged the idea of workers taking breaks)
- Then, managers trained to treat workers like adults (and productivity increased)
Basic ideas of human relations approach:
- Control and punishment are not necessary:
- Workers have needs and goals that should be met (seek challenge and
responsibility on the job)