If any of your coworkers were polled, past and present, how would they assess you as a leader? Better yet, would they describe your leadership using the trait or style approach? I personally like to assess a person's leadership ability by their style instead of by traits.
The trait approach of leadership suggests that certain people were born with special traits that made them great leaders (Northouse, 2013, p. 40). There are many positive and negative traits that a person can have that can help us determine if they are good or bad leader. Based upon this approach, if a leader does not exhibit any or some of the positive traits, they are unable to be a great leader.
The style approach emphasizes the behavior of the leader (Northouse, 2013, P. 75). Researchers studying the style approach determined that leadership is composed of two general kinds of behaviors: task behaviors and relationship behaviors (Northouse, 2013, p.75). These are interesting behaviors to assess, as I do not believe that they are often exhibited strongly within the same person. Typically a leader is either more concerned with accomplishing tasks to meet the end goal or they want to build a positive and supportive work atmosphere for their coworkers.
So why do I prefer the style approach to the trait approach? I believe that everyone has positive and negative traits. Just having traits does not mean that you would be a great or not so great leader; you have to be able to apply the traits effectively to be a great leader. This is where your traits can affect your style of leadership. I've worked for leaders that were determined and only focused on achieving the end goal. Those leaders did not care to get to know the other coworkers on a personal level; they just wanted us to come to work and get the job done. I've also worked for empathetic leaders that encouraged a happy work environment. While those leaders made for a great work environment, the end goals could have been reached sooner if the leader or the rest of us focused on the task at hand. I really would like to work with a leader who can balance the two effectively, as I believe that would make the workplace a challenging, yet fun place to work.
If someone was assessing my leadership ability using the style approach, I would hope that I would show as being able to achieve various tasks as required of me as well as having good communication skills with my coworkers.
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership Theory and Practice (6th Edition). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.