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A study of competencies and personality traits of successful leaders in the Malaysian banking industry and recommendations for averting a capacity gap

Ananthan, Sharmaine Sakthi


Sharmaine Sakthi Ananthan


Steven J. Armstrong

Marcjanna Augustyn


An increasing number of organisations are attempting to enhance their pool of available talent as there has been a shrinking pool of potential effective key leaders. Organisations are interested in developing and further enhancing their leaders to boost their efficiency and effectiveness in order to retain a competitive edge. Therefore, this thesis seeks to identify the extent of the capacity gap in leadership, determine the key competencies required in leaders that are influenced by personality and recommendations for averting a capacity gap in the banking industry in Malaysia.

Prior research has demonstrated the beneficial consequences of leadership attributes. However, with the recent financial turbulence and economic meltdown, the subject of leadership has become an intense area of discussion in many fields, such as business, industry, government and even education. As a result, major changes in the way leadership is perceived, sustained and developed are required to understand leadership complexity. The emergence of such leadership, in contrast, has received less scholarly attention, particularly in the banking industry in Malaysia.

To address these issues, the personality traits (Big Five Personality Model), Competencies (Great Eight Competency Model) and Leadership Styles (Multi-Factor Leadership Questionnaire) to transform average leaders to good/effective leaders in the banking industry of Malaysia are examined. This study, with a sample of 150 leaders, first revealed that the personality of introverted leaders who prefer to be modest, silent and approachable is more appropriate than that of extroverted leaders. These introverted leaders tend allow followers to be more open to discuss issues and bring about changes.Secondly, in terms of competencies, it was found that important competencies such as ‘leading and deciding’; ‘supporting and cooperating’; and ‘interacting and presenting’ are lacking in leaders. Thirdly, transformational leadership style appears to be positively related to personality but transactional leadership style did not show any relationship with personality. More specifically, the transformational leadership style was shown to make a major contribution, in contrast with previous studies, where it favoured females rather than males gender. In addition, sub-attributes of transformational leadership style showed that males are more effective than females in terms of ‘idealised influence’ and ‘intellectual stimulation’, while the reverse is the case for the sub-attributes of inspirational motivation’ and ‘intellectual consideration’. Importantly, the study reveals that in order for females to be visible and successful in senior level management or as CEOs, these sub-attributes of ‘idealised influence’ and ‘intellectual stimulation’ have to be enhanced in order for them to be seen as role models, to outshine males’ gender, and to be effective leaders. These findings confirm the crucial role of minimising the leadership capacity gap in building, maintaining effective leaders and developing a pool of potential leaders within the banking industry.

In sum, this thesis provides empirical evidence for minimising the leadership capacity gap. It also builds new theory to further advance these areas of research. Thus, the thesis contributes to a better understanding of the development of effective leadership for the banking industry in Malaysia. It indicates important directions for future research and outlines practical recommendations on how to nurture personality traits, competencies and leadership styles.


Ananthan, S. S. (2014). A study of competencies and personality traits of successful leaders in the Malaysian banking industry and recommendations for averting a capacity gap. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 12, 2015
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Jun 1, 2014


Thesis (3.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2014 Ananthan, Sharmaine Sakthi. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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