An example of a great leader within the business world would be Richard Branson and as stated within the management textbook, he is said to be; “A maverick, encouraging people to do things differently” This is backed by the results of a survey which was conducted for the international Leadership Summit; Leaders in London in April 2004. The survey was logged on bytestart.com where it states that; “Almost 1,000 chief executives, company directors and senior managers from around Britain to elicit their opinions on the subject of leadership”
Within this survey Richard Branson was voted the best British Business leader. Within the survey the respondents were asked to state what they believed to make a great leader, ability to inspire was the top answer. Vision and communication skills coming a close second. These are skills, which they obviously believe Richard Branson to obtain. However, as also stated on the bytestart website; “The survey also asked respondent’s opinions on leadership itself. Asked whether an individual could learn the skills required to become a ‘great leader’, 59 per cent of respondents answered YES.”
This then is going against the belief of the trait theories as the survey clearly points out that they believe there to be certain traits and skills that a leader should obtain but would seem the majority believe that they can be taught. All of which goes against the belief that “leaders are born not made.” Behavioural Theory The definition of behaviour that is given within the management textbook is; “Behaviour is something a person does that can be directly observed.” This meaning gives the assumption that the behavioural theory believes that through observation that leadership skills can be picked up. This is backed by the comment from psychology.about.com; “If success can be defined in terms of desirable actions then it is easy for other people to act in the same way.”
Therefore, the assumption of the behavioural theory is that leaders can be made through the observation of other leadership skills resulting in the belief that leaders are not born; this is going against the statement in question completely. It is also stated on changingminds.org that; “Successful leadership is based in definable, learnable behaviour.” This assumes that traits can not only be picked up but in theory be learned by, not only the observers but those who study the acquired traits of a leader.
The inborn traits or capabilities that the trait theory seeks for are not something in which the behavioural theory looks for. Behavioural theorists are more interested in looking at what leaders actually do. Thus meaning that behavioural theorists are in some way concerned with the traits of a leader, as they are the result of the successful leader; but they are more observant to the behaviours that successful leaders use to influence their followers. This backs up the idea that although leaders such as ‘Dame Anita Roddick’ of the ‘Body Shop’, have certain traits that help her in the leadership role that she holds, that these skills that she has acquired over the years can be observed and learned by others.
In conclusion it would seem that the statement “leaders are born not made” can be supported to an extent with the trait theory. With this case it is supported that leaders do need to have certain traits to become successful leaders. However; with Richard Branson and Tesco’s Sir Terry Leahy being voted the top British leaders in business by those who did believe that there were certain skills that were needed but that they did not agree with the term “leaders are born not made.” Everything throughout this report supports the idea that leadership is definitely an acquired skill but one that can be taught to others. In other words the conclusion of this report is that leaders are made not born.
Reflective Learning The strategy in which I used to tackle this report was to firstly gather information on the meaning of leadership and then to research the leadership theories. After this research I extracted what I believed to be irrelevant information for answering the question given. I then drew out a plan for the report, which stated what would be spoken about in each section. At this stage I also decided what charts and examples of leaders I would use to support my answer. While writing the report my opinion on the conclusion changed as I further developed an understanding of the topic. Throughout this process I have learned that opinions can change quickly and that sufficient research results in being able to complete coursework with ease and little stress.
1. BoddyDavid(2006),Management:An Introduction,Third Edition, pages 451-454,456 2. Daft, Richard L(2005),Understanding Management,Fourth Edition, pages 412 http://psychology.about.com