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Are The Best Leaders Purely Defined By Specific Traits?

Aug 8, 2014 1:00:05 PM

Pottery Wheel

Are leaders born? Or are they made? Seems pretty black or white, right? But, is it...

According to a recent HBR blog post, the debate between leaders being born and made requires more discussion.

The article suggests that before we can even ask the question, we must first understand it by recognizing two distinct components of leadership: effectiveness and emergence. Effectiveness ties to an individual’s performance in the role of leader. Emergence relates to an individual being recognized as a leader.

Not surprisingly, some inborn traits such as extraversion and intelligence are positively correlated with the emergence of a leader. In general, we tend to gravitate towards people who are outgoing and smart. For some reason, this combination of traits captivates us. In general, whether we can describe why or not, people possessing both are just downright likeable. Even further, we trust them and we don’t mind “following their lead. A notable example: Barack Obama emerging as a charismatic and intelligent leader to become our nation’s 44th President. Political affiliation aside, when it comes to emergence, Team Born seems to hold the advantage.

However, when these same traits are analyzed in terms of the effectiveness of a leader, the competitive advantage shifts. Major players for Team Made, situation and context, are fresh off the bench and prove to be game changers. Meaning, just because someone (aided by inborn traits) has emerged as a leader, doesn’t mean they’re going to be a good one. In case no obvious examples come to mind, here’s an individual that despite being described as charismatic and intelligent, you would NOT want to follow… Ted Bundy. Slam dunk for Team Made.

At this point, it’s a tie in the game of leaders. Maybe there isn’t a clear winner. If Team Born can’t follow through after emerging, they surely lose. And despite the potential to effectively lead, if Team Made can’t overcome emergence in the beginning, they don’t even stand a chance. It’s a tough call.

Okay, leadership fans, who do you think gets the “W in this match up? Team Born, Team Made or the newly formed Team “It Depends? Ready, set, go…

Topics: General

Written by Vennli

Vennli is the content intelligence platform that empowers marketing leaders to increase the effectiveness of content marketing for each persona across every stage of the buyer’s journey - from awareness to advocacy. The smart content planning tool combines customer data and artificial intelligence, including insights about what matters most to the target market, to make intelligent content, messaging, and communication recommendations that will attract, convert, and retain more customers.

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