Saturday, November 11, 2017

Leadership in Question November 8, 2017

What is authentic leadership anyway?

Dr. James Kelley and Yousef from the news are in the studio to join the conversation and see what we think about leadership in 2017.


Click to grab the podcast.


The show notes.

This week we are asking if leadership is born or learned?

And just because a person is an extrovert does that make them a better leader?

What is the leadership model in your organisation? Does it work? Is it learn as they go?

Maybe the question is how effective is the leadership in your organisation?




the answer is: ‘mostly made.' The best estimates offered by research is that leadership is about one-third born and two-thirds made. The job of leading an organization, a military unit, or a nation, and doing so effectively, is fantastically complex. To expect that a person would be born with all of the tools needed to lead just doesn't make sense based on what we know about the complexity of social groups and processes.



Research suggests that extraversion is consistently associated with obtaining leadership positions and leader effectiveness. There is also some evidence that being bold, assertive, or risk-taking can be advantageous for leaders. Leaders also need to be smart to analyze situations and figure out courses of action. So, intelligence is associated with leadership, but perhaps not general IQ, but social intelligence - understanding of social situations and processes - is the component of intelligence that is important for leadership. Finally, some sort of empathy, or ability to know followers, is also advantageous for leaders (although much of this is learned). As noted leadership scholar, Bernard Bass, noted, "The leader must be able to know what followers want, when they want it, and what prevents them from getting what they want."




In the same way, our beliefs about how people become leaders affect how we evaluate people’s leadership potential. Believing people are born leaders is likely to result in a focus more on selection (identify the right people) rather than on development (develop the people you get). On the other hand,

believing that people are made into leaders by
their experiences would be more likely to result in
a greater focus on making sure people had the
right opportunities to develop into leaders.




By failing to differentiate between leadership effectiveness (performance as a leader) and leadership emergence (being tapped for a leadership role), this research is often misunderstood and misused.  In fact, inborn traits are more strongly associated with leadership emergence. That is, within a group of peers, those who are more extraverted or more intelligent tend to have more influence on the group. Does this mean that these same people perform better than others when placed in a formal position of leadership? Not necessarily.

Unfortunately, we often choose our leaders based on traits such as extraversion, charisma, and intelligence (or perceived intelligence). And then we wonder why their performance does not live up to our expectations.






Leadership is an art rather than a science. It is a set of innate traits, refined and perfected over time with education, training and experience.
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There is also an aspect of being in the right place in the right time. You may be a leader but also a matter of whether or not you are in the position within which your talents can shine forth.
The discussion about leadership also needs to identify the location as well as the environment. Are we speaking about these major performers (born or made) in a small organization, in an industry, in a society, in a country or in the world?
If the fear of leading overrides the willingness to take on the responsibilities then one is a follower. Not everyone can be a leader just like not everyone can become a good actor. Some people will never have that aspect in them while others have the latent ability and thus can be taught how to lead. All the books, classes education and training cannot turn a follower into a leader.
To be a leader in a structured environment, one needs some formal training. Most people can learn to manage well, start a business, lead a project team since good management is based on rules - rules that can be learned and mastered.
Leadership is often a Choice. A leader is a person who comes forward to take the challenge. If a leader rises up from the multitude, then that person was already a leader to begin with. Should someone have all the best training, nurturing and opportunities, but would rather be hidden in the crowd, an unwilling participant...not a leader.
Leadership styles varies with maturity, followers and situations.
In the GLOBE research across 60 countries leader attributes conclusions were thus: “Integrity; charisma, inspirational, visionary, encouraging, positive, confidence builder, dynamic, foresight, effective team building, communicating, coordinating, decisive, intelligent, and win-win problem solver,” These attributes are a combination of personality, character, skill, communicative ability, and emotional intelligence. Therefore a leader is born, developed, skilled in communications, and cultivated through life experiences.
The best estimates offered by research is that leadership is about one-third born and two-thirds made.

It all depends on how one defines leadership. It is possible for either. Depending on how you define leadership everyone can lead and be a leader.



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