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Great Leaders: Are They Made or Born? Essay

Skills such as communications skills, strategic and leadership skills are often questioned whether they are learned or naturally born within a person. These debates are caused by the bipolar opposition of an individual’s growth as influenced by nurture and nature. Human behaviors are studied by psychologists and sociologists to explain the phenomena whether those behaviors are innate or learned and acquired. One of those phenomena is a person’s success in terms of leadership abilities. Leadership skills are enhanced and developed through performance, actions and experiences; thus, triumphant and great leaders are made, not born.

Leadership is defined as “working with and through others to achieve objectives” (qtd. Goldsmith). It means that any person who is in a position and whose success and achievement entails the support of others, can play the role of a leader (Goldsmith). Leaders make possibilities (Avolio 3), so the belief of most psychologists then that leadership qualities are innate are now being debated because of several researches that show the other possibility: leadership skills can be mastered and developed (Avolio).

It is not enough to believe in the “Great Man” theories, which assume that the ability for leadership is inherent and inborn–that great leaders are born, not made. The theories most of the time illustrate leaders as heroic, mythic and fated to ascend to leadership when needed (Wagner). However, it is important to note that it is misjudged and underestimated if people fail to gather and learn from life and personal experiences, which are said to have an impact on developing leadership skills (Avolio 3).

Great leaders emerge in a number of forms; however, there are particular characteristics that are common to the quality of leadership–a process of influencing members of the organization to commit and to work hard towards achieving the organization’s goals. Leaders can either be task-oriented–leaders who are interested most in directing behavior, training, performance and winning–or person-oriented, leaders who are enthused more on the interpersonal relationship of the organization (Sugarman 1).

On the other hand, in order for a person to be addressed as a “great” leader, he or she must be both task-and-people-oriented so that every aspect of the organization will be given focus. The quote “great leaders are people persons” (Banescu), implies that a great leader is someone who likes to be with people, listens to them, relates to them, knows how to communicate well, and speaks their language and does not talk down to them. Moreover, great leaders are knowledgeable and efficient administrators.

It means that the leader comprehends the works that are being done in all the areas of the organization: how the areas and the people collaborate. The leader possesses a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the people he or she administers. He or she devotes resources and time to correct the weaknesses and reinforce the strengths (Banescu). It is also essential to take into consideration that a leader needs to have the qualities that the organization is incorporating. For instance, if a leader desires his or her members to be confident and be disciplined, it is essential that he or she must first possess those traits.

In order for a person to be called as a leader, he or she needs to lead by example. A leader serves as an influential model for all his or her members, so everything he or she does will be watched and looked at (Sugarman 1). Basically, the skills of a great leader revolve on his or her capacity to manage and lead the members of his or her organization, as well as to fulfill and do his or her own tasks while making sure that the organization functions well in achieving its goals and objectives. Great leaders’ qualities and abilities center on action rather than position.

Leaders are in the position to supervise the organization and its members and to make sure that every aspect performs well. Leadership is not primarily about exercising one’s power and extending his or her dominion by abusing his or her authority and manipulating the members of the group. Thus, a leader guides the members of the organization, not rules them. He or she draws a course, bestows direction and enhances and develops the social and psychological milieu (qtd. Sugarman 2). Given the aforementioned premises, then, how great leaders are made?

Being a leader especially a triumphant and great one is a matter of choice, a matter of priority and a matter of challenge. Of course, every individual desires to become a leader and sees him or herself as a catalyst of change. However, albeit the dreams and visions of becoming one, only those who follow their heart and who make the move have evolved to become leaders. Nevertheless, becoming a great leader is more challenging than just turning into an ordinary and usual leader. “Great” is a very powerful and strong adjective that describes the whole capacity and leadership abilities of a person.

It is how a person makes use of his or her leadership capabilities as well as how he or she maximizes his or her strengths and potentials in order to manage and lead the organization properly. It is also about utilizing his or her leadership skills in order to create and discover new strategies and techniques. As what the old saying goes, “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trial;” this statement is very much suitable with regards to the explanation of making great leaders.

It means that a person needs to learn from his or her personal experiences in accord to his or her leadership potentials. The acquired knowledge and experiences will definitely be of great help to an individual’s leadership development. So in order to become a great leader, a leader must first be beaten with a lot of trials and challenges during the process. Great leaders: are they made or born? That question has been commonly asked and has been studied for several decades.

Psychologists then insist that great leaders are born because leadership skills are acquired from one’s ancestors. The leader’s abilities are intact on their genes. However, that notion with leadership is said to be dangerous because it promotes self-delusion and irresponsibility. It crafts an escape on one’s responsibility for taking action or for learning how to take action when he or she has seen the need of the organization or the community (Heifetz 20). On the other hand, current researches show and reveal that great leaders are made, not born.

Because even though the person has been born with skills and abilities, but he or she fails to utilize them and fails to apply it in his or her experiences and leadership struggle, still, his or her innate capacities have no use. But if a person is already born with excellent skills on leadership and chooses to enhance and develop those skills, he or she has the power to transform him or herself into a person that he or she yearns for him or herself to be – a proficient leader. Great leaders are made because of several things that triumphant leaders accomplish.

Such things involve getting 390 degrees feedback on his or her present effectiveness, picking the most essential behaviors for change, asking the members of the group for suggestions on how he or she can do a better job, listening to the members’ ideas, and following up and measuring change in efficiency over time (Goldsmith). Given that, an excellent leader provides a serene atmosphere where members can learn and grow. At the same time he or she gives responsibility to the group and fosters independence (Sugarman 2).

Great leaders are made because they make use of their skills and abilities and apply what they have learned and what they have experienced in the course of their leadership process and development. They do not just sit on their table and order the members to do their jobs and to accomplish the organization’s goal; hence, triumphant leaders work together with their members. They motivate the group, not manipulate it. Great leaders are made because such leaders are open for crafting possibilities and achieving the unexpected. They make things happen by doing actions and taking responsibilities.

They do not just allow a thing to materialize in itself; rather, they do something for it and they strive for it. Leadership is not a just a matter of choice; it is a matter of priority and willingness to act. Works Cited Avolio, Bruce. Leadership Development in Balance: Made or Born. London: Routledge, 2005. Avolio, Bruce. 1999. “Are Leaders Born or Made. ” Psychology Today. 05 March 2009 <http://www. psychologytoday. com/articles/index. php? term=pto-393. html&fromMod=popular_work>. Banescu, Chris. 2007. “Key Characteristics of Great Leaders. ” Orthodoxnet. com Blog. 05 March 2009 <http://www. orthodoxytoday.

org/blog/2007/12/31/key-characteristics-of-great-leaders-part-i/>. Goldsmith, Marshall. 2008. “Great Leaders Are Made, Not Born. ” Harvard Business Publishing. 05 March 2009 <http://blogs. harvardbusiness. org/goldsmith/2008/01/great_leaders_are_made_not_bor. html>. Heifetz, Ronald Abadian. Leadership Without Easy Answers. United States: Harvard University Press, 1994. Sugarman, Karlene. 2008. “Leadership Characteristics. ” Ottewell School. 05 March 2009 <http://ottewell. epsb. ca/sports/lead. pdf>. Wagner, Kendra Van. 2009. About. com: Psychology. 05 March 2009 <http://psychology. about. com/od/leadership/p/leadtheories. htm>.


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