Leadership & Communication: Trait Perspective

When we get to small group communication, I usually get a little tinge of excitement when I begin thinking about the value and importance of teaching students about leadership perspectives. Most textbooks focus on three options:

  • Trait Perspective
  • Situational Perspective
  • Functional Perspective

Each of these perspectives has brought me fascination as I learn more about my subject area. But I would like to take the following posts to focus on each of them, and I’ll start today’s post with Trait Perspective.

I joke with my students that we can poke holes in this theory for weeks on end, but ultimately, I appreciate its premise. To begin, you may want to watch this (approximately) 3-minute video that does a great job of explaining the basics of this theory, as well as proposes alternate ideas.

With this, I also mention that I disagree with some of the premises of this perspective. After all, I don’t subscribe to the concept that we cannot develop traits that would make us more effective leaders. After all, I teach communication–a core tenet and trait of quality leaders. I have seen students go from being quiet and unsure communicators to confident and assertive in a matter of weeks.

At the same time, I do believe that many leaders begin with a basic skill set. However, we must hone and develop such skills with our experiences, including our abilities to make decisions, to manage time effectively, and to prioritize information.

What are your thoughts on Trait Perspective? Share them in the comments section.

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