The question whether or not a leader is born or taught has been reviewed extensively through the years. Modern work shows that leaders do indeed possess traits to a greater degree than that of others in the organization, but these traits can generally be developed if they are not initially present in the individual (Denhardt et al, 2002). To refer to a particular individual as a "natural born leader" I believe is somewhat deceptive, however, an individual can certainly possess a number of the personality traits that are consistent with desirable leadership traits. Leader motivation and influence are consistent traits found in today's successful leaders have shown to be traits that an individual can learn and grow into.
In Jim Collins (2001) "Good to Great", he explains that a leader possessing level five leadership always looks in the mirror when company news is negative or an immediate change of course is needed to correct a poorly designed plan. Collins (2001) goes on to state that a level five leader will look out the window and credit those around him/her for a job well done and for the thoughtfulness and creativity that went into the decisions that created the positive atmosphere in the organization. Traits such as intelligence, self-confidence, high energy, sociability and integrity are common traits in a successful leader and are all traits that an individual can learn and live by (Denhardt et al, 2002). I have found that emerging leaders have emulated the actions, decision-making processes and vision of those who they hold as great leaders in an attempt to prepare themselves to be better leaders. The personal views of an emerging leader are strongly influence by the emulated leader and therefor today's leaders have a powerful shaping ability on the leaders of tomorrow. There are distinct difference between leaders and managers. I have always thought about the difference as this: a leader is someone in an organization that...
References: Collins, Jim. (2001). Good to great. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Denhardt, R.B., Denhardt, V.D., & Aristigueta, M.P. (2002). Managing human behavior in public & nonprofit organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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