What Makes a Great Leader?

What makes a great leader?  And are leaders born or made?  These questions have persisted across the years and generated a lot of discussion.  Though a final consensus has not been reached regarding the answers, much has been learned over the years that informs the conversation.  Early leadership theories attempted to find specific leadership traits and then behaviors which could be used to identify potential leaders.  Alas, no definitive set of specific traits or behaviors could be consistently identified to work in every situation.   Efforts were next directed towards taking into account that different situations and circumstances require situational approaches for effective leadership.  More recent theories focus more on behaviors and abilities that can be developed and learned by those wanting to become effective leaders. 

So…what makes a great leader?  Leadership at its core is the process by which an individual is able to influence others to work towards a common goal.  Regardless of an individual’s particular skill set or approach, good relationship management skills are essential to be an effective leader.  Effective leadership requires developing and sustaining effective relationships in all directions, such as having the workforce’s trust, the supervisor’s confidence, and respect from one’s peers. 

So are leaders born or made?  The simple answer is YES – both options apply.  Some are born with great relationship management skills, while others can develop these abilities through effective leadership development activities.  

-MAH

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