Leadership Traits and Development


Leaders are often described as innately charismatic and possessing a special natural virtue (Bugg, 2010). In the past several years a Nature vs. Nurture theory became overwhelmingly popular. Nature theory supports the idea that leaders are born with the leadership traits already built-in. The nurture theory insists that it is possible to develop a leader out of any, even the shyest and the least charismatic person. In this paper, a fictional leader Paolo has been invented to show which features are the most important in leaders, how they can be detrimental for a leader’s career and how they can be placed on a resume. Commitment, confidence, and communication are considered the most important in a leader, and all the situations are analyzed through a prism of these qualities.


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Image of a Leader

Fictional Image of a Good Leader

Paolo, the fictional character, is a leader by nature. He is charmingand radiating energy. People love Paolo, and he has been a leader for as long as he remembers himself. He is slightly strong-headed so when it comes to hearing opinions of his subordinated it takes a long time for him to shift the perspective and change his point of view. He is not short-sighted, though, and is able to build rational cause-and-consequence connections. People find him a good listener, and many of his subordinates come for an encouraging talk with him during the lunch or coffee time. At themeetings Paolo enjoys the attention of the public the most and creates a feeling of unity, purpose and meaningfulness in every employee. His presence in the company is perceived as a blessing, although a few people find him arrogant sometimes.

A Path for Development of Leadership Traits

Previously Paolo wasnot used to be so concerned with the engagement of every single person on the team. Before becoming a real transformational leaderPaolo used to struggle a lot with his arrogance. His best motivation is pride. However, at the beginning of his career he noticed that the value of pride taken in the job done did not motivate all the employees equally. There were poor task performers who were terrified at the sight of Paolo coming to have another conversation with them. He would hint to the less productive workers that they had a wonderful example of an over-productive manager next to them. After some months of futile efforts with some particularly troublesome workers he decided to use a different approach. Challenging the staff members for an honest, yet strict conversation where all the grudges and real reasons for under-productiveness would come out was the way to stir people tothe right path. He then did not know that this technique wasadvisable with the “difficult” personnel who make promises, but do not fulfill them (Nicholson, 2005).

The next step for him to develop certain leadership traits was going through the process of accepting the opinions of others even if they diverged from his. During brainstorming sessions,he disregarded anything put forward by his colleagues if he did not consider it worth his attention. However, an entire team once turned away from him for rejecting blatantly a very good idea even when it had very solid grounds under it. Ever since, he tried to consider every opinion offered, although it was often challenging for him.

Finally, already when advancing to upper levels of management Paolo tried learning about transformational management to grasp how to make people grow within the projects. He had learnt that his techniques practically matched many of those offered in books. After a little bit of theory-practice alternations that lasted a few months he finally felt like he had achieved the state of perfection.

Development of the Most Important Traits

It is sometimes hard to identify just three leadership qualities that are the most important for the present day leaders as scholars often suggest much more than that. For a good leader like Paolo three C’s are very important, though. Those are communication, commitment, and confidence. Paolo communicates with his employees informally which he has learnt to practice to find out what makes each one of them “tick” (Nicholson, 2005). He also shows confidence as he has a can-do approach during all the projects and when people ask him questions he always helps, even at an expense of his own time. This encourages workers and such atmosphere of confidence is besides contagious. A committed leader is also an example to follow which triggers the intrinsic motivation within the team members. The intrinsic motivation as it is known is the direct product of transformational leadership and the most desired thing to be sensitized in an employee(Cohen, 2007).

Confidence is the direct product of an experience. It comes not from being prepared for everything, but from having had the situations when one was not prepared at all but would still overcome the difficulties. Communication skills come majorly from training and immersing in simulations of real cases of communication struggles. However, in case with Paolo this skill was developed mostly due to the experience and his innate traits. Finally, commitment comes from being well-informed on the matter. If an individual does not realize the value of anything they perform, it will be futile to force them to remain committed. The more significant their work seems, the better it is for thembeing committed to the project.

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Negative Side of Leadership Traits

Unfortunately, for leaders confidence always results in over-confidence when they become short-sighted, miss certain risks that will slip by, and cause disastrous implications in the project. Commitment does not have negative implications itself but it could have some tangent negative areas such as incapability to see the alternatives or lack of desire to explore something novel(Cohen, 2007). Excessive informal communication between the leader and his subordinates could trigger the feeling of unwanted familiarity which turns the leader into a so-called “country club manager”(Mhatre&Riggio, 2014).

Personal Experience

The selected traits have proven to be very useful personally for me. During an especially challenging school assignment, I was grouped up on a team with a very talented leader. Because of her initiative we all had a lot of personal contact and communicated a lot. The person who was leading the team was making sure that everybody wasengaged and worked on the piece of assignment they liked. She was so committed that she created a chat where she was updating the rest of the team on the progress and cheered us incessantly. She was often working at nights and was sending messages to the chat even then, so the rest of the team was also feeling motivated to put extra effort into their part of the assignment.

Marketing Leadership Traits

Putting such things as “communication skills” and “commitment” might look trivial on a resume. It would be much more useful to attract the attention of an employer by combining two traits into one sentence: “confident speaker”, “committed to creating the right atmosphere on the team”. This does not only sound less trivial but also creates a logical connection between the traits of a real leader.

Comparison and Conclusion

My character has the same drawbacks as Paolo’s one. That is why I would not be able to be managed by someone who shows those features very explicitly. Taking into account the arrogance and sporadic limitedness of this potential leader it is hard for me not to get annoyed by those two features. However, the positive features of the leader really do compensate for the small drawbacks. One day I would love to become Paolo and work further on elimination of barriers to the successful leadership.

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