Leadership traits Theories abound to explain what makes an effective leader. The oldest theories attempt to identify the common traits or skills that make an effective leader. Contemporary theorists and theories concentrate on actions of leaders rather than characteristics. A number of traits that appear regularly in leaders include ambition, energy, the desire to lead, self-confidence, and intelligence. Although certain traits are helpful, these attributes provide no guarantees that a person possessing them is an effective leader. Underlying the trait approach is the assumption that some people are natural leaders and are endowed with certain traits not possessed by other individuals. This research compared successful and unsuccessful leaders to see how they differed in physical characteristics, personality, and ability. A recent published analysis of leadership traits (S.A. Kirkpatrick and E.A. Locke,
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