Organizational success depends ultimately on the qualities of its leaders. But are leaders born successful or can they be trained? Use Theories and evidence to support your discussion. For centuries, various psychologists have been trying to answer the opinionated question; they have gone but the question is till there, Are leaders born or made ? During the course of this essay I will present each argument with theories and evidence to support the discussion.
I will also bring forward another argument spoken by Professor Alex Haslem 2005, that leaders are not born nor made, they are formed when leaders and their followers share a social identity. Before discussing the argument stated above, I will firstly define the word leader since it has created such controversy; ‘Great Leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. No matter what leaders set out to do – if leaders fail in this primal task of driving emotions in the right direction, nothing they do will work as well as it could or should’ (Daniel Goleman.2002)
I chose this definition of leaders over a thousand other definitions because of its simplicity. The definition above simply states the primary rule towards becoming a great/successful leaders, which is keeping a bond between its followers. The ‘Great Man’ approach was the earliest and probably the simplest view of leadership. This theory suggested that great leaders were born with instincts that helped them affect the course of history; they assumed that leaders would have genius intellects, personal charisma, great vision and personality.
Individuals that would fit into this category would be the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill just to name a few. The ‘Great Man’ approach also stated that great leaders had some sort of genetic interference that helped them on their course to great leadership. The Trump family would be a great example for this theory since Fred Trump, a wealthy real estate developer, had a son, Donald Trump who is now a billionaire. These set might get passed on further to both of Donald Trumps son and daughter who are following in their fathers footsteps.
(Jerry L Gray, Frederick A Starke 1988). After the ‘Great Man’ approach, the next theory that presumed leaders were born was the trait approach. The trait approach theory was formed during the 1920s; this is the era where the actual research towards leadership started thus the reason why a lot of researchers/psychologists use the trait approach as the first theory regarding leadership. The trait approach believes that a leaders personal attributes are the key features that lead to leadership success. The approach is split up between two traits, physical and psychological.
Physical trait links to features such as: height, weight and body shape whereas the psychological trait links to features such as: intelligence, extraversion and verbal fluency. The trait approach was developed to predict the effectiveness of traits towards leaders; this was proved but the theory itself never had enough tools to provide evidence to pursue the theory. (Jerry L Gray, Frederick A Starke 1988) Therefore I am unable to give examples of leaders who possess certain traits since the theory was abandoned due to the fact that the trait lists (both physical and psychological) got too complicated since the number of traits increased.
The behavioural approach is quite different than the trait approach, rather than concentrating on what leaders are, the behavioural approach focussed on what they do. The behavioural approach started in the 1950s – 1960s, the behavioural approach was the second main theory regarding leaders. The main research was conducted by two universities, Ohio State university and the University of Michigan. (Jerry L Gray, Frederick A Starke 1988).