Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991) identified six trait characteristics. They indicated that leaders are different from followers on the basis of drive, desire to lead, honesty and integrity, self-confidence, cognitive ability, and knowledge of the business. Kirk Patrick and Locke also suggest these traits can be learned. This is especially encouraging for someone pursuing a Master’s degree in leadership. Still, it is apparent that some people naturally and innately have a special disposition to lead and motivate others.
All of my life, I have been making people laugh. My friends and family have been encouraging me that I missed my calling and should have been a comedian. I have looked into it and decided that stand-up comedy is a craft. A craft requiring education, practice, and coaching that I do not yet have.
Leadership is similar. For an individual to use their skills effectively often requires education, practice, coaching, and also patience. Perhaps one day I will be a leader and a comedian. Perhaps I already am one or the other. Perhaps I am already both. Trait leadership, as well as this discussion, are both limited due to their subjective nature. Despite that, it is helpful for those of us moving towards leadership.
Kirkpatrick, S. A., & Locke, E. A. (1991). Leadership: Do traits matter? The Academy of Management Executive, 5(2), 48-60.