Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Are good leaders born or created

Article in Sunday Times 4 February 2007 by Mary Braid

Leadership defined as "the ability to inspire others to strive and enable others to accomplish great things." In this case they nurture the talent of others.

The debate is whether it is something you are born with or can be learnt. An alternative view is that leadership has to be "earned" by gaining respect from others.

Whatever the truth, it is pretty clear that one style of leadership does not fit all circumstances. In some cases command and control is appropriate, but in many it is not. Now that a lot of responsibility has been devolved down the chain of command, more people need leadership qualities; using initiative, creativity and innovation.

One problem is that we want more people to take leadership, and this includes taking risks. Unfortunately failure, which is part of risk, still tends to be punished. Also, when people are taught leadership (if it is possible) they are given an idealised view of the world, which often does not have much baring to real life.

In real life it takes one set of skills to work to the top and another to be effective when you get there. "That is why good governance is so important" to ensure talented and effective leaders make it to the top.

Andy Brazier

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