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Leadership Trait Assessment Approach

Analysis of personality traits of political decision makers at the example of Slobodan Milošević

Written by Saskia Knauft

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis


Business Administration>Leadership




Bachelor Thesis: Leadership trait evaluation theory LTA was proposed by Margaret Hermann in 1980. The main contributors to enhance this theory come from Preston, Dyson, Karboo, Post and Winter. The program foresees the development of the personality characteristics of political actors through the results of a clear quantitative content analysis. The results show the leadership style. The analysis is based on the three dimensions of leadership style and seven personality variables (see the table below). 2.2.1 Leadership style Leadership style is defined as the way the decision maker communicates with the politically related individuals around him (Hermann and Karboo 1998: 243). Individuals related to politics are advisers, voters, and other political participants. In this process, the interaction structure, norms, rules and principles are considered (Hermann 2002: 5). The three dimensions of leadership style are outlined below. The "response to constraints" dimension defines whether decision makers accept or challenge political and system constraints. It describes the importance of an individual's power, influence, and control over the surrounding environment, as well as his ability to adapt (Hermann and Karboo 1998: 248). The dimension of "openness to information" defines the scope of political individuals' decision-making based on comprehensive information search and processing, or whether they selectively choose affirmative information (ibid.: 249). "Motivation" defines the long-term direction of the decision maker. This includes things that he considers important, the factors that guide his decisions, and his ambition to seek leadership positions. Motivation can be driven internally by ideology, or externally driven by the desire to get some kind of feedback from the surrounding environment (ibid.). 2.2.2 Personality Traits The following seven traits will be introduced. "Believe in controlling events" defines the degree to which an actor believes that he can control the political situation through his actions and decisions. Individuals with unique beliefs pursue a positive political agenda. They are hardly willing to compromise because they are confident that they can control the course of the event (Keller and Young 2008: 692). Participants with weaker definitions are more cautious and respect contextual factors. They are willing to delegate work (ibid.). This feature is coded by words that indicate that the actor follows the active agenda (Dyson 2006: 292). "The need for power" describes the intensity of the decision-maker's seeking to influence, control, and dominate others. Actors with a strong need for power are first interested in self-driven goals, and then shared benefits. They adopt a zero-sum position in the negotiation (Keller and Yang 2008: 691). "Confidence" is related to the degree to which political actors assess the importance and ability to influence their political environment. Agents with strong confidence are not sensitive to incoming information. They are satisfied with themselves and will not look for opportunities to evaluate themselves through feedback from others (Hermann 2002: 21). Actors who lack self-confidence will be affected by situational events. They are looking for information to evaluate themselves and meet the needs of others (ibid.: 22). Confidence coding includes adjectives that decision makers use to evaluate themselves, such as "I" or "mine" (ibid.: 21). The dimension "conceptual complexity" describes the way actors make decisions and use consultants. In addition, it defines whether decision makers are open to information from their political environment and to what extent the decision-making process is based on information (Preston and Dyson 2006 : 267). Participants with a high degree of complexity consider various positions, can deal with ambiguities, and react flexibly to developments. Low conceptual complexity is related to classification and black-and-white thinking. These decision makers are reluctant to accept feedback and are closed to alternative methods (Hermann 2002: 22). The coding of this feature is carried out by referring to words indicating different classification views of the decision maker respectively (ibid.). For example, "approximately, absolutely, without doubt" (Dyson 2006:292). The fifth characteristic, "distrust", defines the degree to which decision-makers sincerely accept the opinions and behaviors of others to the extent that they reject them with caution. Individuals with obvious distrust see the world as a threat and scrutinize the motives of others (Keller and Yang 2008: 693). Even actors with low levels of distrust will question the intentions of others, but they will evaluate less important points during their deliberations (Hermann 2002: 32). Political possibilities are more important to them (ibid.: 27). Coding is performed based on the words that individuals use to others (ibid.: 31). "Ingroup bias" describes the belief that one's own ingroup plays a key role in the political process. Intragroup bias is related to national identity and honor (Dyson 2006: 292). An individual with strong ingroup bias intends to protect his ingroup. This affects his foreign policy because the incident is more likely to be seen as a threat than a political opportunity. Participants who showed low intragroup bias saw an opportunity for a win-win situation (Hermann 2002: 27). They solve the challenge diplomatically and internationally (ibid.: 30). Read Less