QUESTION: IQ and technical skills are "threshold capabilities"; that is, they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. Using examples of (past and present) leaders and with reference to theories and leadership practice, what makes a leader?…
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There could however be a general idea in the minds of every other person who tries to define leadership. At least every one may be thinking of the practice of heading a group of people. With this basic knowledge, McCrimmon (2010) defines a leader as “a larger-than-life individual in charge of some group - team, company or country.” Quite related to what McCrimmon (2010) states, the Team Technology (2011) posit that “leadership is setting a new direction or vision for a group that they follow, that is: a leader is the spearhead for that new direction.” One factor that continues to make the acquisition of a single definition to leadership and who a leader is impossible is the fact that different leaders lead their people and run leadership with different styles and theories. This is to say that there seem not to be a single way in which all leaders go about leadership. Leading on, this unevenness and differences in leadership styles and theories bring out a realization that it is extremely difficult to point out to who a good leader is. This paper therefore attempts to show: by the use of examples of past and present leaders that the most effective leaders are those who are able to apply the most appropriate leadership styles and theories at the right time to get a leadership decision successfully implemented. This stand is taken against the position that effective and good leaders must be judged or identified by virtue of the possession of certain qualities and technical skills. In a book by Daniel Goleman (1995), it was put forth that the traditional qualities associated with leadership- such as intelligence, toughness and possessing certain skills – are required for success, but are insufficient in accurately conveying the abilities of a true leader. There are complex components that have been found to be more crucially associated with effective leadership that go beyond intellectual abilities and technical skills and these components are exactly what this paper seeks to reveal. Different Theories, Different Leaders Theories of leadership have evolved over the years to describe the different ways in which different leaders have ruled and led their people. The diversities associated with these theories point to one fact and that is, there are different leaders. Two of these leadership theories are discussed in this section to proof that effective leadership cannot be generalized but must be based on the kind of leadership theory at use. Trait Theory Debate in literature on whether or not leaders are born continues unabated. In trait theory, Cherry (2011) points out that the trait theory functions on the assumption “that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership.” For this reason, trait theory sees leadership and for that matter effective leadership from a viewpoint, where leaders are supposed to possess certain behavioral and personality characteristics in order to be judged as effective or good. Trait theorists would there look for people with certain skills and attributes to take up leadership positions rather than training ordinary persons to take up leadership positions. Some of the traits attributed to great leaders with reference to the trait theory are dominant (desire to influence others), energetic (high activity level), persistent, self-confident, tolerant of stress, adaptable to situations, alert to social environment, ambitious,
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