Leaders , Are They Born or Made?

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Q 3. Organizational success depends ultimately on the qualities of its leaders. But are leaders born successful or can they be trained? Use theories and evidences to support your discussion.


Leadership is the competency and capability to influence and motivate people towards the fulfilment of goals .Thereby, leadership within any organization, is most definitely a critical factor of organizational efficacy. Leaders also embody a vision for future, and a good leader possesses the quality to cope and evolve with change.

The need of a leader in any given organizational setup, is imperative to the growth and future of the organization. “Leadership is the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organization” (House et al., 1999)

Whether a leader is made or born is undoubtedly one of the most argued question in the scope of leadership. As leadership theories and attributes have developed and evolved over the years, it can be observed that, leadership as a quality that contributes to the success of an organization is an attribute that can be developed or cultivated Leadership development and training is a fast growing academic discipline. Many multinationals companies like GE , Citi Bank and Shell have invested millions of dollars on shaping and moulding their leaders , as they strongly believe that the returns of the company is largely influenced by the quality and strength of its leaders.



The trait theory is one the earliest theories to have been developed in leadership, and is actually a range of theories, which strongly believe that, all leaders are born and possess certain inherent traits that cannot be learned. The objective of this study was to discover the traits, which successful leaders were made of and then use the same as a benchmark for grading other leaders.

The generally accepted traits supporting the theory included honesty , competency, intelligence, self confidence, future vision etc. But the above basis to identify leaders was leadership quality was very unsubstantial, and often led to contradiction. Thus due to the inconsistency of the theory, it suffers several pitfalls.

2.1.1. The disadvantages of the trait theory were:

Table: 2.1

1. Relativity-not possible to identify the relative importance of various traits. 2. Interaction- most trait type models are disregarding Interaction effects. 3. Universalism- the occurrence of different situations , have proved that traits are not universal. They differ with situation 4. Change- traits tend to evolve and transform over time. 5. Cause and effect-the cause of effect of the theory are ambiguous 6. Cultural factors- the theory completely neglects the changes in cultural environment. Source: http://www.12manage.com/description_trait_leadership_theory.html


The shortcomings of the trait theory, led to development of the behavioural theory of leadership. In the context of behavioural theory the focus shifted from the study of characteristic traits to the study of behavioural patterns displayed by leaders. The theory believes that leaders can be trained and developed.

The managerial leadership grid developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton, has gained significant importance. It measures a leader on two parameters:

1. concern for people

2. concern production.

The results are then plotted on a nine position grid (as illustrated in fig 2.1)

The following table describes the understanding of the grid

Table 2.2
The two concerns on a vertical and horizontal axis, respectively. A person with:
9/1 score is a country club manager(9 on concern for people ; 1 on concern for production) 1/1 represents a impoverished management style
1/9 indicates task management.
5/5 style , in the middle...
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