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Are Leaders Born or Made?

Updated on September 6, 2014


     A question on leadership that is still not completely resolved is whether leaders are born or made? The opinion remains scattered. However, we may know for sure that leaders can emerge from all walks of life; from all cultures, backgrounds, and in all physical appearances. Leadership is not only determined by the character and capacities of the leader but definitely also by the followers. There is no leader without followers. Another aspect that is at least as important but often overlooked is the influence a situation can have on leadership. Some people can never emerge as a leader because everything around them runs flawlessly. Most of the world renowned leaders become great due to crisis in their times: the climate demanded action, and they came forward because their particular leadership competence was stimulated. In fact it is difficult to pin point one universal set of leadership characteristics that count for every leader because different circumstances require different performances from a leader. 

     In today’s world of work, acquisition of knowledge and information catapults a professional to a leadership position. It was questioned earlier whether knowledge management is a fad. Today the role of knowledge leadership is growing exponentially. Effective knowledge management requires attention to both explicit and tacit knowledge to both hard (technology) and soft (people) infrastructures. You must know your job inside and out. If not, know where to find your answers. Being resourceful is just as good as knowing everything about your job or the project. Since knowledge leadership requires constant learning and upgradation of learning a knowledge leader must be willing to ask questions, for the key to acquisition of knowledge is asking questions and getting their answers.

When you ask questions you also send a message to your company management that you are dedicated to the company. Therefore knowledge creation and sharing the same with others is key to effective leadership. While continuous learning is crucial, it is of no use unless shared with others. A norm of contributing one’s knowledge to others is key to continuous growth for all.

It would be instructive to add that having good ethics as a leader is one of the most important traits of a leader with the current economy. There have been instances of well running profitable organizations that came crashing down at the altar of ethics. The minor ethical and moral digressions that might not have been attended to by their CEOs at the time turned colossal over a period of time leading to their closure or bad publicity. Either these organizations wounded up or crashed on the Wall Street. The moral for leadership here is that no ethical issue is too minor to be neglected.


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