Leadership and Personality From Students in Iran

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Overview

Operating and managing big companies require good leaders and great leadership skills. Leaders are selected based on their personalities because they may naturally lead people into leadership roles. The term Big Five is used to describe the major classifications of personality types evident in people. Each person has a unique and inherent behavioral pattern that conspicuously stands out and can be used to identify the person Big Five and leadership. This paper seeks to explore how the Big Five personality types affect leadership especially regarding the task or people orientation as well as an analysis of a personality survey taken from engineering and business students in Iran.

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Methodology

Firstly, extraversion tops the list of the Big Five. This personality type is sometimes referred to as Surgency. People who are extroversive are often characterized as being assertive, of high energy, and tend to talk a lot. Agreeableness is the second type of the Big Five. Those who belong to this category are associated with affection, sympathy, and a tendency to be benevolent or compassionate. Conscientiousness is the next personality type. Conscientious characters are shrewd, well-organized, and strategic. Emotional Intelligence is the fourth trait. This personality type is also referred to as neuroticism and is mostly associated with individuals who tend to be tense, emotional, considerate, or anxious1. Finally, Openness personality is characterized by the ability to be thoughtful, insightful, or the ability to be intellectual2. There are no well-known studies done to examine the relationship between Big Five and leadership.

To understand and appreciate how personality and leadership are related, a survey was carried out among engineering and business students, both male, and female, to establish their perceptions on three important components of personality, namely whether they are task-oriented, or people-oriented and their view on whether a woman is suitable to for a higher leadership office or not. The primary data collected was recorded and tabulated for further analysis. For instance, the shared average between those who are task-oriented as well as people-oriented was computed. In addition, the average score of those students who are task or people-oriented was also calculated, besides the grand of the shared traits, i.e. between task and people-oriented.

Results

The table below shows the synthesized results from the questionnaire used in the survey, taking into account the overall average scores of each category.

Engineering students Business students
Male female Male Female
Average on task-oriented 9.517241379 7.357142857 6.48387098 6.75
Average on people-oriented 6.551724138 7.214285714 9.58064511 11.125
The shared average on people and task-oriented 8.034482759 7.285714286 8.032258065 8.9375
A woman in a leadership position 2.206896552 1.071428571 3.322580645 1.375

Discussion and Literature Review

As can be observed from the sampled results, most of the male engineering students are task-oriented with an average score of 9.5 compared to their female counterparts in the same department who had an average score of about 7.4. The big query, however, remains to be the reason why most male engineering students are task-oriented and whether the trait can be used to depict a leadership style.

The likely reason for this disparity could be that they are engaged with their work since they are task-oriented and therefore are keen to ensure work is done perfectly well in addition, engineers do not have any management course and consequently, it could be due to a lack of any established leadership style. Moreover, the engineering students are less religious than their counterpart business students. The likely explanation for this is that the business course is slightly related to Islamic practices contrary to engineering which has no relationship with Islam at all.

The task-oriented nature of most male engineering students depicts the likelihood of an autocratic style of leadership. This type of leadership is sometimes referred to as authoritative and is not desired if strong relationships and friendship are needed. The fact that male engineering students are not people-oriented implies that they relate less with others and possibly have fewer friends. This is a good predictor of autocratic leadership whereby the leader does not value relations much, focuses on the task, and quite often is in total control of a group3. In this type of leadership style, a leader does not take suggestions from the subordinates irrespective of how much the suggestions may be beneficial to the entire team. In the event a group has to be led either in a school setting or in a particular common project, an autocratic leader will entirely focus on the project or task at hand, ignoring being on good terms with group members who especially are deviating from the task. As a result, they become unpopular among the group members.

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Despite the unpopular nature of this type of leadership, there is a myriad of benefits that can be derived when the leadership style is applied. For instance, it is imperative to note that strong and uncompromising leadership is required in group projects. As an autocratic leader, focusing on the task is paramount especially if particular objectives with strict deadlines have to be achieved. Leaders who value building relationships may not deliver quite well in such cases4.

On the other hand, the survey indicates the female engineering students tend to balance well between tasks and people with an average score of approximately 7.35 and 7.21 respectively in comparison with their male counterparts who had a big gap between the two scores (9.51 and 6.55 for task and people respectively). This is a common characteristic of women, as most of them can multi-task, drawing a balance between building relationships and work. What about the leadership styles of the majority of females who took part in the survey? It is interesting to learn that most of the female engineering students seem to have confidence in a fellow woman taking the leadership mantle at a higher office. Females often believe that they can multitask by performing a myriad of tasks. The response to question number 36 reveals that most female engineering students do believe that women can be potential leaders at higher levels. This is depicted by an average score of 1.07 compared to the scores of 3.3, 2.2, and 1.3 in other categories surveyed. In terms of the Big Five personality traits, the female engineering students can be used to depict a conscientious personality. They tend to be assertive as well as energetic bearing in mind that the results obtained from the survey are unique; it reveals the inner thought or feeling of this group of females surveyed. Moreover, the results have not followed the common trend like the rest. On the same note, the female engineering students can also be good indicators of openness to experience personality. Although it is evident that they are both task and people-oriented, and hence they can offer balanced leadership as well, they have more confidence in a woman leading a high-profile office.

However, while considering the Big Five factors concerning leadership styles, it is worth noting that there is a wide range of other sub-traits that can be crafted from the Big five personality types. In the case of female engineering students, they have a shared leadership style whereby both morale and productivity are on the higher side. Higher productivity is common in autocratic leadership while higher morale is evident in a freestyle of leadership, commonly known as the Laissez-Faire leadership style5. The female engineering students have a fair balance between people and tasks.

A survey on both the male and female Business students was equally amazing. Both the male and female Business students are more people than task-oriented. However, more females are people-oriented compared to the males with an average score of 11.125 and 9.58 respectively. Previous studies have shown that businesswomen tend to care more about people’s feelings than work6. In that case, they fall under the category of the agreeableness of the Big Five personality trait framework. They are more compassionate and they will prefer to extend sympathy to people whenever there is need and forego task. Nonetheless, as can be observed from the table, both the male and female students in the Business class are oriented towards people largely because business ideals require one to build relationships that last as part of winning and maintaining clients. The results obtained from the survey carried out on the Business class can be used as a predictive tool for the Laissez-Faire style of leadership. In this style of leadership, the process of decision-making is not left entirely in the hand of the manager or group leader. Members of a group make pertinent decisions. It is a freestyle of leadership; no orders are given and relationships matters than the task at hand. Previous research studies have unanimously concluded that the Laissez-Faire style of leadership has the lowest level of productivity.

In Laissez-Faire leadership, the delegation of duties is common. Leaders offer very minimally or no guidance at all while followers exercise optimum freedom when making decisions. Although the necessary resources may be provided by the leadership, members of a group are expected to offer solutions to problems. For a Laissez-Faire leadership style to succeed, team members should be highly competent, intrinsically motivated as well as work under minimum or no supervision at all7. When the male Business students were inquired about a woman’s suitability in leadership at a higher position, the average score was 3.3, the highest among all the categories they tend not to agree that women can take positions in higher offices, unlike the engineering students who believe that women can offer excellent leadership in companies. Their female companions scored an average of 1.3. Similar to previous findings, women tend to believe that they can offer good leadership in higher positions. Through this statistical analysis, it is now possible to relate the Big Five personality frameworks with leadership, considering both orientations: people and task.

To understand leadership, personality has been incorporated into the whole process. The main reason given behind this is that how people behave or act is a result of who they are. Another possible reason why personality has been linked with leadership is that, throughout adulthood, personality is part and parcel and also a function of day-to-day activities and can be assumed to have a longitudinal predictive power.

T In order to obtain an analytical measure of personality, the five-factor model has been employed. This model has also proved to be reliable and comprehensive in determining global personality, or better still, a wide range of personality traits. Most of the research studies conducted both in the distant and near past conclude the same way; that all the personality types largely fall into the five main categories albeit the varying degrees of functionality.

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The five-factor model has also shed more light when discussing personality and trait differences in people and how this can affect individual leadership styles8. These five dimensions have equally proved to be highly reliable and have a high level of validity and when molded together, the structure of personality is well established. Moreover, the Big Five can be applied in a very beneficial way in a variety of settings. For example, the survey carried out on both male and female students from engineering and business classes is a vivid illustration of how profitable the model is. The male engineering students who were found to be mainly task-oriented still fall under the Big Five especially if those characteristics are linked to personality traits. One dominant personality characteristic evident among male engineering students is conscientiousness. The fact that they are task-oriented implies thoroughness on their part. They are always conscious of their work and hardly dwell on people or build strong relationships.

In expounding the Big Five model, it is imperative to underscore the fact that extraversion relates to the ability of a person to demonstrate more energy while performing tasks. A person with this character trait is highly enthusiastic, is capable of building strong and long-lasting relationships due to their outgoing nature. In addition, the person is generally talkative9. These traits can be used to predict the leadership style of an individual. In the case of the female business students, they were found to be more people-oriented than task-oriented. They can also be said to be extroverted and tend to speak out freely whenever there is a need.

Openness to experience, conscientiousness as well as extraversion is key players in determining the performance of a leader. For instance, conscientiousness correlates so well with certain occupations. In this regard, people who are goal-directed and reliable are generally good performers in any given job. Occupations such as sales and management require extraversion personality. This is because such occupations require continuous interaction with the target client or group being managed for optimum performance. This is a similar case to the Business students who were surveyed. Due to the nature and eventual practice of the career they are in, they will be required to be outgoing, extroverted, and talkative and above all, make friends10. This explains the reason why their average score on people-oriented was very high in comparison to other categories measured. Furthermore, openness to experience alongside extraversion can be used to predict the level of performance especially within the context of leadership.

Conclusions

To recap, it is worth noting that the Big Five personality framework is an important tool kit unanimously proven in a myriad of research studies, to be effective in predicting leadership styles, qualities, and desired performance criteria in different occupations. The five dimensions are profound parameters that comprehensively analyze the main personality types in different people. To improve their leadership skills, some management courses should be incorporated in the engineering course bearing in mind that they are more task than people oriented. The male business students who do not believe that women can take higher offices can modify their attitude towards women by focusing more on tasks than people and visualizing that women too can perform in higher managerial positions.

The survey carried out on both the engineering and business students was a vivid demonstration of how task and people-oriented personalities can influence leadership styles or requirements.

The different attitudes as portrayed in the survey are a powerful tool that can be used by companies and governments’ ineffective hiring of employees. For instance, the system of hiring employees in different leadership positions is purely task-oriented and hierarchical. Hence, task-oriented people like engineers are deployed in areas that require keen focus on the task at hand. Those who are people-oriented tend to do better in various leadership positions. Hence, hierarchy in company leadership is highly dependent on either task or people orientation a far as personality is concerned.

Bibliography

Frick, J. Paul; Barry, T. Christopher, and Kamphaus, W. Randy. “Clinical Assessment of Child and Adolescent Personality and Behavior”, Bacon: Springer, 2009.

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Griffin, W. Ricky, and Moorhead, Gregory. “Organizational Behavior: Managing People and Organizations”, Mason: South-western Cengage Learning, 2010.

Lewis, P. James. “Project Leadership”, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.

Northouse, G. Peter. “Leadership: Theory and Practice”, London: Sage Publications, 2010.

Wiggins, S. Jerry. “The five-factor model of personality: theoretical perspectives”, New York: Guilford Press, 1996.

Footnotes

  1. Paul J. Frick, Christopher T. Barry, Randy W. Kamphaus. “Clinical Assessment of Child and Adolescent Personality and Behavior”, Bacon: Springer, 2009.
  2. Peter G. (Guy) Northouse, Peter G. Northouse. “Leadership: Theory and Practice”, London: Sage Publications, 2010.
  3. Paul J. Frick, Christopher T. Barry, Randy W. Kamphaus. “Clinical Assessment of Child and Adolescent Personality and Behavior”, Bacon: Springer, 2009.
  4. James P. Lewis. “Project Leadership”, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
  5. James P. Lewis. “Project Leadership”, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
  6. Jerry S. Wiggins. “The five-factor model of personality: theoretical perspectives”, New York: Guilford Press, 1996.
  7. James P. Lewis. “Project Leadership”, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
  8. James P. Lewis. “Project Leadership”, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
  9. James P. Lewis. “Project Leadership”, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
  10. Ricky W. Griffin and Gregory Moorhead. “Organizational Behavior: Managing People and Organizations”, Mason: South-western Cengage Learning, 2010.

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BusinessEssay. 2021. "Leadership and Personality From Students in Iran." December 8, 2021. https://business-essay.com/leadership-and-personality-from-students-in-iran/.

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BusinessEssay. "Leadership and Personality From Students in Iran." December 8, 2021. https://business-essay.com/leadership-and-personality-from-students-in-iran/.