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4 ‘Being’ a leader

So what does it mean to be a leader? As you have already learned, leadership and being a leader is less about your title, rank or position than it is about what you do and how you do it. DuBrin (2010) outlines a number of key personality traits of effective leaders, dividing them between general personality traits (i.e. those that are generally displayed both in work and outside of work) and task-related personality traits (i.e. those that are more directly related to getting the job done):

General personality traits




Sense of humour


Enthusiasm, optimism and warmth



Task-related personality traits

Passion for the work and the people


Internal locus of control (i.e. the degree to which a person feels they have control over events impacting on them)

Flexibility and adaptability

Emotional intelligence

(DuBrin, 2010)

Activity 4 Self-assessment

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Take a moment to rate your ‘work self’ on a scale of one to ten against each of the traits listed above. (You might like to have a friend or colleague evaluate you against the key criteria too.) What do your results tell you about your own approach to leadership? How might this vary from situation to situation?

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It can often be challenging to evaluate yourself and rate yourself against key behavioural traits. It can consequently be useful to compare notes with someone who knows you well to get their perception of you. Flagging and exploring any big gaps between your perception of self and their perception of you could be helpful for your development as a leader.