Leadership: Nature vs. Nurture
BUS318: Organizational Behavior
Professor Thomas Tonkin
May 25, 2015
Leadership: Nature vs. Nurture
Even though leadership can be learned, science has found that most leaders have a genetic commonality. Interestingly, leadership means the most within an organizational context.
Leader follower relationships are one of the ways leadership behavior evolves and is defined. The two most common leadership roles are the charismatic role and the instrumental role. The charismatic role empasises vision, inspires a sense of pride, and encourages respect between the leader and follower. The charismatic role is a transformational leadership ...view middle of the document...
While the article acknowledges that leadership is largely a skill there are certain traits that appear to be inherited genetically. Dr. De Neve also added, “If we really want to understand leadership and its effect on organization, institutional, economic and political outcomes, we must study both nature and nurture” (De neve, 2013).
Importantly, honing leadership skills is something anyone can master. Successful leaders routinely self-assess. Asking themselves what their strengths are, and what their weaknesses are. Good leaders know when to hand over a task to someone who is more talented in a particular area, utilizing all the resources available to them. Also, effective leaders are aware of how they are perceived by others. They create transparent, honest lines of communication with their team members. Another trait of effective leaders is their ability to be responsive to the needs of the group. It is important to know what motivates your team and what they value. Some teams value trust while others appreciate communication and good organization (Schermerhorn, 2012).
The Big Five and Leadership
Researchers have been examining what traits make up leaders since the 1960s. The Big Five personality factors: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extraversion have been agreed on as being the most common traits in effective leaders. Conscientousness is defined as the tendency to be well organized, methodical, regulated and trustworthy.
First, being agreeable is one’s tendency to be nurturing, accepting and able to conform. Neuroticism, or anxiousness, hostility, depression, insecure and vulnerable effect leadership in a negative way. It is therefore genrally accepted that leaders have minimal amounts of neuroticism. Openess, measures a leadership trait associated with new ideas and the ability to accept and adapt to change. Finally, extraversion, the trait most associated with leadership, measures how social an individual is. Leaders have the ability to interact easily, putting others at ease and being an inspiration. On the other hand the author points out, why is it that some people exhibit these traits, but never become leaders (Bligh, 2009)?
Where the Big Five Fails
The problem with linking traits to leadership is, “…that it discourages individuals from believieng they have the ‘right stuff’ to becomes effective leaders” (Bligh, 2009) Furthermore, Bligh points out that in the Big Five, it has never been addressed that while effective leaders have specific traits, they also may be immoral and corrupt. There are leaders who exhibit Big Five traits and use their abilities in a way that impacts society and individuals in extremely negative ways. For example, Charles Manson and Jim Jones (Bligh, 2009). The Big Five dimensions do not take into account that personality traits change over a lifetime. Individuals become more agreeable and open to new experiences as they age.
According to Boyle (2008),The Five...