- Term Papers and Free Essays

Are Leaders Made Or Born -- Or Both

Essay by   •  January 1, 2011  •  3,140 Words (13 Pages)  •  2,022 Views

Essay Preview: Are Leaders Made Or Born -- Or Both

Report this essay
Page 1 of 13

Jeffrey Gandz is Professor, Managing Director, Program Design, Executive Development, and Program Director, Ivey Executive Program, Ivey Leadership Program, Richard Ivey School of Business

Look into the soul of any great leader and you will find a good leader. But, if only that were the case. Some leaders, those who crave and bathe in the spotlight, are in fact not so great. Others, who are highly effective (and modest) and possess the five key characteristics this author describes, are good leaders first and foremost. Which is what, in the end, makes them great.

The extraordinarily successful book From Good to Greati focused attention on the kind of leadership that was required to achieve enduring high performance. While it has been one of the best-selling management books of all time, it tends to focus on the effectiveness dimension of leadership to the virtual exclusion of other important dimensions. In my view, you cannot have truly great leadership without considering the broader challenges that face organizational leaders today. Great leadership must be good leadership too. The word "good" is an interesting word in the English language because of the many meanings that it has. No more so is this true than when it is used in conjunction with the words "leader" or "leadership." Good leadership can, indeed refer to effective leadership - getting followers to pursue and attain goals. But it can also refer to the purpose or goals that leaders pursue and whether those are deemed fitting by the societies within which they operate; it can refer to the ethics of leaders - doing the right things in the right ways. It can also refer to the ways in which leaders make followers feel good and, indeed, the way they feel about themselves as leaders.

Good as effective

It goes without saying that good business leaders must be highly effective in getting people to follow them in pursuit of selected goals. Highly effective leaders:

* Recognize and analyze the driving forces in the political, economic, societal and technological environments in which they operate and understand the impact of these forces on their current strategies;

* Develop winning strategies based on sound competitive analysis, understanding buyer-behaviors, building core competencies and selecting the right domains in which to compete that will satisfy the expectations of their shareholders and other stakeholders;

* Execute those strategies brilliantly by involving people in their formulation and implementation;

* Evaluate the execution and results systematically, making strategic adjustments as indicated;

* Beyond this, they continually build for the future by increasing the capabilities of their organizations, divisions, departments, teams and themselves.

Really effective leaders drive for results now while simultaneously building for the future. It is simply not acceptable to view these as trade-offs, as perhaps used to be done by coaches of perpetually losing sports teams. The performance bar is continually being raised and to be three, four, six percent or more than last year is baked into the expectations that we have of leaders of organizations today.ii

Much has been written about effective leadership. Suffice it to say that we expect our leaders to: work with their followers to develop a compelling future vision; enlist the support of others - inside and outside their organizations - in achieving this vision; energize, enable, and encourage high performance; empower people to act within an agreed-upon vision; and to be exemplars of the values of the organizations they lead. To do this requires both competencies and character. Competencies determine what leaders are able to do; character determines what they will do, how they will exercise those competencies under various circumstances. Good leaders, especially those who endure, are seldom one-dimensional, simple individuals. They are often complex, contradictory and multi-faceted, especially in how they respond to different situations: confident and humble, assertive and patient, analytical and intuitive, deliberate and decisive, principled and pragmatic, among others.

Good purpose

When the character Gordon Gecko uttered his famous phrase "Greed is good" in the movie Wall Street, he reflected the view that managers, by single-mindedly pursuing the interests of shareholders, are fulfilling the true purpose of the business entity. The late Milton Friedman, the Nobel prize winner and high-priest of free-market economics, held that this approach by business produces the most good for the most people since other institutions - government agencies, trade unions, consumer protection associations, etc. - will curb the excesses of business and that the maximum aggregate benefits come from the tension between these forces. Leaders of businesses must then pursue shareholder interests exclusively and should be compensated for so doing. They should eschew the role of social arbiters attempting to balance competing interests, a role with which they are neither charged nor competent to perform. This is not an immoral or amoral argument on the part of Friedman. Indeed, it holds to the precept that the moral action is the one that brings the most good to the most people. Attempts to demonize Friedman for this argument are misguided.

Such a philosophy does not negate the importance of other stakeholders in the business enterprise. Indeed, customers, suppliers, employees, governments - national, regional and local - and the broader societies within which these businesses operate are also very important. Businesses benefit suppliers but also depend on excellent service and quality from those suppliers; they pay wages to employees but depend on their engagement and commitment; they provide value to customers but also benefit from the dependence of customers on them; they provide employment to members of communities but also depend on getting planning permission from a local government when they want to put up a new building, and they pay taxes to governments but also seek subsidies and other protections. But it subordinates their importance to the fundamental primacy of shareholders. They are to be considered only to the extent that they may be instrumental in creating a return to shareholders.

The alternate perspective is that shareholders are but one group of stakeholders in the business enterprise and that there are other stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, employees, community groups, pensioners, etc. to whom the business enterprise has obligations.

These obligations stem from the reciprocal social and moral obligations between the parties. Businesses owe senior employees job



Download as:   txt (19.5 Kb)   pdf (195.6 Kb)   docx (16.4 Kb)  
Continue for 12 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 01). Are Leaders Made Or Born -- Or Both. Retrieved 01, 2011, from

"Are Leaders Made Or Born -- Or Both" 01 2011. 2011. 01 2011 <>.

"Are Leaders Made Or Born -- Or Both.", 01 2011. Web. 01 2011. <>.

"Are Leaders Made Or Born -- Or Both." 01, 2011. Accessed 01, 2011.