The trait approach to leadership was one of the earliest theories of leadership. Although it is not a fully articulated theory with well-developed hypotheses, the trait approach formed the basis of most early leadership research. This approach focuses on the personal attributes (or traits) of leaders such as physical and personality characteristics, competencies, and values. It views leadership solely from the perspective of the individual leader. Implicit in this approach is the assumption that traits produce patterns of behavior that are consistent across situations. That is, leadership traits are considered to be enduring characteristics that people are born with and that remain relatively stable over time.

Early Research on the Trait Approach

Rather than researching exceptional historical leaders (i.e., the great man approach to leadership), early trait ...

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