I think a good analogy is that of a talent such as the ability to dance, sing, act, play football or be a successful athlete.
Those people are born with a set of skills and talent that enable them to excel in their chosen field. They may show an inherent ability and interest, and will have some raw skill. But given the correct environment and training the skill will be honed, the talent will blossom and the person will become proficient in their field.
It is very difficult to produce a world class footballer, actor, singer etc. from a person who does not have the inherent ability. It is possible to develop what skill there is within the person, but not to produce a world class performer.
In the same way, there may be people who could potentially be world class, but if they are never shown the way, offered the opportunity, then they will not realize their hidden potential.
So I am saying that to produce a great leader, an effective leader, it is helpful to have the correct raw material to work with, someone who has an inherent talent for leadership. But also, I am saying, everyone can be helped to improve their leadership skills.
What are we learning here?
As in everything, if we analyze the component parts of the skillset required, we can work on them separately and develop and improve our Leadership potential.
We have considered many of the skills required already on this course. Now I propose to revisit the ones that you can work on to improve your leadership potential in this new separate module. I will include the link to the original module, so you can revisit if you want to revise it, and I will briefly summarize the original module for you.
Trait and Situational theory
Leadership trait theory is an early leadership theory, and asserts that there are certain inborn traits or attributes that mean people are more likely to succeed as leaders. So it infers that leaders are born, rather than made.
Early research on the traits of leaders failed to show significantly different traits in leaders and followers. Further studies led to observations that people are not always leaders or followers in different situations. Let’s consider an example.
Two people work in the same business. A is a senior manager in the business, B is an employee at a much lower level.
Both are members of a different group –say a choir, or amateur football club. Here B is the choir leader, or team captain, and A is an ordinary member of the group.
B leads the group, in the same way as A leads the department in the company.
Their behavior in each setting is different. Why is this? Because they have adopted different roles in each instance, and so assume the authority and command the respect conferred by their position.
Different people take the lead in different situations that require different skills. It is also influenced by the way that teams work together. In teams people tend to assume the role they are best suited to, unless that role is taken already, in which case they will slot in where they fit best.