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Skills and Traits of Leaders Overview


Trait theories can identify the personality characteristics that are associated with the success of leaders. Nevertheless, it is necessary to transform these inherent qualities into skills or competencies that should be possessed by these people. By combining these models, students can become more efficient public health administrators.

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Several approaches can be useful for explaining the phenomenon of leadership. In particular, one should consider trait theories and those models that lay stress on the skills that individuals ought to have. Overall, it is possible to argue that these frameworks can complement one another. Both of them are necessary for explaining how people can become successful leaders (Nahavandi, 2014). Thus, one should explain how these theories can help students attain long-term goals.

Comparison of skills and traits

Overall, skills approach and trait theories recognize the importance of inherent qualities such as intelligence, memory, imagination, and so forth. These attributes are essential for people’s ability to acquire various professional competencies. The main difference is that the supporters of trait theory focus on the study of personality characteristics that can be viewed as essential prerequisites for the success of a person (McGuire, 2014). In turn, the advocates of the skills approach emphasize the need to examine the competencies of leaders (Laureate Education, 2012). Much attention should be paid to the tasks that these professionals should perform. This approach has a profound impact on the design of courses that students should take (Genat, & Robinson, 2010; Gill, 2011).

It is necessary to remember that such notions as skills and traits are not interchangeable. For instance, the intelligence level of a person can be very high. However, he/she may not be proficient in solving problems affecting public health. This skill can be developed if an individual has the in-depth knowledge of various challenges influencing many hospitals. Moreover, one should learn about the best practices that should be adopted by medical organizations (Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleishman, 2000). Furthermore, continuous professional development is the key to becoming a skillful leader (Zehndorfer, 2013). Additionally, it is possible to consider such a skill as systems thinking that helps healthcare administrators. It requires various cognitive abilities such as logical reasoning. Nevertheless, this competency can be acquired if an individual gains insights into the functioning of different systems that compose the public health care.

Personal experiences

In my opinion, I need to focus on skills approach and trait theories to become a good public health leader. At first, I need to examine my personality characteristics that can help attain various goals. For instance, openness and consciousness can help cope with many professional tasks (Kessler, 2013; Sargeant, 2014). At the same time, I should focus on the competencies that other people will expect from leaders. For instance, I would like to mention the ability to manage complex projects that are aimed at improving the quality of public health. I need to value the safety of patients as my top priority because, in this way, one can mitigate many risks (Topol, 2004). In my opinion, it is not permissible to rely only on inherent traits because this attitude can prevent a student from understating various aspects of public health.


This discussion indicates that it is vital to understand how people’s traits and their skills are related to one another. In particular, one should see how inborn qualities can be translated into competencies. This knowledge is essential for the preparation of successful leaders.

Reference List

Genat, B., & Robinson, P. (2010). New competencies for public health graduates: A useful tool for course design. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 34(5), 513–516.

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Gill, R. (2011). Theory and Practice of Leadership. New York, NY: SAGE.

Kessler, E. (2013).Encyclopedia of Management Theory. New York, NY: SAGE Publications.

Laureate Education. (2012). Leadership theory: Skills approach. Baltimore, MD: Pearson.

McGuire, D. (2014). Human Resource Development. New York, NY: SAGE.

Mumford, M., Zaccaro, S., Harding, F., Jacobs, T., & Fleishman, E. (2000). Leadership skills for a changing world: Solving complex social problems. The Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 11–35.

Nahavandi, A. (2014). The art and science of leadership. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Sargeant, A. (2014). Fundraising Management: Analysis, Planning and Practice. New York, NY: Routledge.

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Topol, E. (2004). Failing the public health—Rofecoxib, Merck, and the FDA. The New England Journal of Medicine, 351(17), 1707–1709.

Zehndorfer, E. (2013). Leadership: A Critical Introduction. New York, NY: Routledge.

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