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Are your leadership traits affected by your goals?

Dr Richard Bunning, Teacher

Faculty Blog

Much of the trait theory of leadership would hold that our traits are relatively stable: attributes with which we are born. However, interesting research by McCabe and Fleeson (2016) gives us pause for thought.

In three different studies, they found that levels of traits manifested (in this case extraversion and conscientiousness) were dependent upon the goals of the individual. Different goals were found to affect the amount of each trait that was manifested.

In one of the studies, about half of the variance in trait manifestation was dependent upon the goal pursued. So it appears that, although traits are ‘the right stuff’, the amount we employ them is affected by external factors.