Leadership – Foundational and Critical Perspectives
Are character ‘traits’ important in understanding the nature of leadership,
and are narcissistic traits among leaders a problem for organizations?
Further Guidance for Students
On the basis of your understanding of the leadership literature, explore the
debates around (1) character ‘traits’ and (2) ‘narcissistic leadership’.
You need to show that you have a good grasp of some of the central ideas in
the leadership literature that are relevant to these topics; have been able
to reflect on this literature; have been able to draw your own conclusion;
and supply good argumentation to support your conclusion.
Approaching the question
Students are reminded that whilst some questions may very evidently refer
to a particular unit they are all designed to span issues across the entire
module. A full answer to the question will require reflection on the issues
that you have encountered throughout the module. It is important to bear in
mind that the content of your answer will depend on the argument that you
wish to put forward in answer to the question and not solely on the
concepts that the question explicitly identifies.
In addition to the criteria outlined above and in the Programme Handbook,
students are expected to demonstrate:
• Knowledge and understanding of the ‘traits’ literature that suggests
that character is relatively fixed; of the literature that suggests that
character is more malleable and may be developed, and that casts
doubt on the traits literature; and of the literature that suggests that
we sometimes over-estimate the significance of leadership when we
look at organizational functioning
• Knowledge and understanding of the literature on narcissistic
leadership: what is it?; under what circumstances, and in what ways
is it a problem?; and are there circumstances in which it is helpful?
• Critical reflection on the literature
• Some knowledge of the wider leadership literature and ability to link
it to your argument
IMPORTANT NOTE: BELOW INSTRUCTIONS MUST BE STRICTLY FOLLOWED AS INSTRUCTED BY THE COURSE ADVISER (The person who will mark this course work). ALL REFERENCES MENTIONED BY THE INSTRUCTOR BELOW MUST BE USED IN THIS COURSE WORK IN ADDITION TO YOUR OWN REFERENCES.
REFERENCES MENTIONED BY THE ADVISER WILL BE ATTACHED IN THIS ORDER AS WELL.
Assignment Instructions per Section by the Course Instructor/ Adviser: (MUST BE STRICTLY FOLLOWED)
Define: Leadership, traits and narcissistic leadership or narcissism
Introduce your plan to answer clearly the assignment question
Make it clear that you will engage in critical thinking
Section 1) Traits:
Importance in understanding leadership – what do they contribute to our understanding of leadership?
Traditional traits approach / Great Man view – advantages and limitations, especially limitations. (Van Seters & Field – The Evolution of Leadership Theory)
Are traits fixed or malleable? Can traits be learnt? Born (fixed) versus made (able to develop) debate? Can leadership be taught (Doh, 2003)? Which aspects of leadership can be taught/learnt/developed (Grint, 2007)
Modern traits approach and recent research into traits – how important are they? (Kouzes and Posner – The Credibility Factor; Kirkpatrick & Locke – Leadership – Do traits matter?)
Personality (traits) and leadership, recent research – how important are they? (Bartone et al: Big five personality factors, hardiness, and social judgment as predictors of leader performance)
Strengths and weaknesses of the modern trait approach?
Explore the fact that this is a very “leader-centred” view of leadership and doesn’t consider other factors. Make reference to the “Romance of Leadership” ideas (Meindl et al 1985 – The romance of leadership) about us over-estimating the significance of leadership in organisational success. Contrast this with the findings of Jim Collins around level 5 leadership.
Section 2) Narcissistic leadership:
What are the characteristics of narcissistic leadership? (Rosenthal & Pittinsky 2006 – Narcissistic leadership)
How might these be a problem?
In what ways might narcissistic leadership be helpful? And when might it be needed – if ever?
Toxic triangle that can lead to destructive (including narcissistic) leadership (circumstances that lead to narcissistic or destructive leadership) (Padilla et al 2007 – The toxic triangle)
How can organisations manage narcissistic leaders?
Charismatic leadership – strengths and weaknesses (see Module book and find references)
Encouraging authentic leadership as an antidote to narcissistic leadership (George et al – Discovering Your Authentic Leadership)
Explore socialised versus personalised leadership motivation / pseudo-transformational versus authentic transformational leadership. And why this is more important than mere charisma (see Billl George and Jim Collins – Level 5 Leaders)
Read through ALL the papers I have suggested and the assignment question in mind.
Don’t just give your opinion. Based your arguments on the literature and research and make clear reference to these.
Clearly explore advantages and disadvantages of all key concepts
Make a clear generalization and conclusion.
The assignment should be typed and be formatted for A4 (portrait). A left-hand margin of 25 to 40 mm should be used, with all other margins being 20 mm. Double line spacing should be used for the assignment, except for indented quotations where single spacing may be used. A font size of 12 is required, and you are encouraged to use a clear font design such as Arial, Times New Roman or Courier New. Pages must be numbered consecutively throughout the text, with numbers located centrally at the bottom of each page. Any abbreviations used should be those in normal use. Where necessary a key to abbreviations should be provided.
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