Understanding the categories of leader traits in socialization: the case of Haier group’s CEO in China

Liguo Xu*, Dalong Pang, Jing Ge, Youmin Xi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the categories of leader traits, their generation and their relationships in leaders’ socialization. Design/methodology/approach: The authors take the case study method, which is the most suitable method to answer research questions on why and how to fulfill the study purpose on the basis of the case of Ruimin Zhang. Findings: Leader traits are classified into four categories with respect to socialization, namely, root trait, driving trait, thinking trait and affair trait. The root trait and the driving trait form from the leader’s insight with the impact of key events, mutually promote and consolidate each other, and together derive the thinking trait and the affair trait on the basis of critical events, culture, family, education, etc. The thinking trait is the premise of the affair trait to be expressed in leadership behavior. The root trait and the driving trait together determine a leader’s growth direction and efficiency and can distinguish leaders from non-leaders. The thinking trait and the affair trait together determine the pattern and effectiveness of leadership behavior and can distinguish effective leadership from ineffective leadership. Research limitations/implications: This study transcends prior integral leader trait research by categorizing leader traits from the socialization perspective, makes a clear delineation on the interrelationships among categories of leader traits, analyzes their holistic functions on the leaders, reveals the formation and relationship mechanism of leader traits and identifies the types of leader traits that can work as the standards for distinguishing effective leaders from ineffective leaders or non-leaders. Originality/value: This study promotes the development of the leader trait theory in the classification, formations, relationships and overall effect of leader traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-366
Number of pages23
JournalNankai Business Review International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Case study
  • Leader trait
  • Socialization

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