Monday, December 06, 2010

I have a theory...

There are actually 8 theories about leaders and leadership according to Kendra Cherry, but I'm going to focus on these three:

1. Great Man theory- Great leaders are born, not made.... They're heroic, mythic, and destined to rise to leadership when needed.

2. Trait Theory- People inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited for leadership.

3. Behavioral theory- Belief that great leaders are made, not born. People can learn to become leaders through teaching and observation.

That's nice.

Over the years I've given a lot of thought to the Great Man theory, and the Alexander the Great's and King Arthur's of history, legend and lore, and one thing that surrounds every "great man" story is that:

1. he believed himself to be destined for greatness, and

2. others around him believed it too.

There is no mystical book that gives us a list of great men that we're supposed to believe in and rally behind... yet we make leaders to follow, including sports heroes like Michael Jordan and pop stars like Michael Jackson. Why? Because someone else believed in them first.

Maybe it started with their parents, then they believed in themselves, and later they grew their talent so big until others couldn't help but notice, but no great person was truly picked out from nothing and told they were now great... they began with some trait, some talent that caught the attention of another.

That seems to go hand in hand with trait theory... but I don't believe that traits are inherited -- that seems predestined -- but rather that they are learned and honed into skills. And that becomes the behavior theory... they learn to become leaders. In many ways, and depending on how it's interpreted, these three theories are just redundant spins on the same basic principle: that leaders lead.

Guess what that means for those that aren't leaders?

It means you're following.

Choose your leaders well.

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