Trait Theory – Stogdill’s Trait Theory of Leadership

by Shamsul
Trait Theory
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Trait Theory  

Stogdill’s Trait Theory



Stogdill in his two surveys conducted between 1904 to 1947 and 1948 to 1970 identified certain traits that contribute towards an individual as heading the leadership process. In addition, he also implied that principally leadership is determined by situational factors and not merely by owned traits; however, after his second survey, he strongly implied that both situational and traits in an individual determine his/her leadership abilities.   The revised traits he proposed after his second survey of being characteristics and traits of leaders included


Trait Theory

Real Life Observation

An example of leadership in real life that implies the trait theory of Stogdill. It is characterizing certain leadership traits and situational factors are the case of Bob Diamond of Barclays Bank.

In 1986 when Margaret Thatcher deregulated the UK’s financial markets. It was an attempt to make London as an investment hub for banks. The banks that were truly internationally reputed, out of the several different investment banks they tried to seize the opportunity. However, it was only Barclays that used the opportunity for the better of it, all-owed to Bob Diamond.

He was a leader who knew how to use the right moment proving his situational leadership skills coupled with his personality traits. As a leader, he was a competitive, uncompromising and tough individual who believed in making his own destiny. He took the responsibility for making the situation work for his organization.  He did through using his self-confidence, insight, persistence, and cooperativeness with his managers and staff members. As a result, he managed to achieve what no one else managed to.

The Outcome of the Leadership Traits

Diamond’s actions led Barclays to a win-win situation as instead of relying on government funds or other support forms he took calculated risks through combining aggressive actions with caution. Under his dynamic leadership, Barclays managed to wriggle out of the credit crunch all other banks faced without requiring the bailout from the government, besides striking a fabulous deal in form of a ‘coup of sorts’ when the bank managed to take over all assets of bankrupt declared Lehmann Brothers in the US, without inheriting any of its liability in the process.


The case study analyzed in this essay particularly explains that special traits in a leader combined with the situational factors determine the leadership qualities of an individual. In the same situation where Diamond managed to resurface from a bad credit crunch situation. It went landing a beneficial deal for Barclays, other leaders failed to arise with the same or even nearing results. The difference was Diamond’s ability to combine situational factors. This was acieved with his personality traits and working them towards dealing with the faced situation. It resulted in an outcome no other managed to achieve.

The other leaders may have had the same personality traits but were not able to match them with the situational factors or vice versa, which translated into their failure, unlike Diamond.



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