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Leadership Can Be Learned (for Most People)

Leadership is influencing the performance of others on the basis of personal contact. The age-old question is whether leadership can be learned or whether it's an innate quality. In other words, do you've to have a certain personality to lead? Personality then refers to the sum of one's qualities of traits and traits. When the person in charge is compared with a non-managerial employee, social psychological research shows that the manager is more socially oriented, shows more initiative, pushes more, is more confident and has more adaptability and verbal skills.

In practice, it appears that many potential executives are selected and assessed on combinations of criteria such as:

- substantive insight (insight into the field of activity in which the organization operates)
- conceptual ability (the ability to organize events)
- sense of reality (being able to distinguish opinions from facts)
- helicopter quality (the ability to make connections in the daily flow of actions)
- judgment (being able and willing to monitor the progress of activities and agreements made)
- ability to communicate (being able to listen and express their own thoughts)
- ability to influence (inspiring employees and being able and willing to influence employees).

Important qualities of managers

Research by the well-known American researchers Kouzes and Posner shows that managers of high-performing departments score particularly high on affection. Affection they give to others themselves and affection they want to receive. They're leaders who are close to people and who are willing to share their ideas with others. The same study revealed more than 225 features with four found to be the most important.

The first characteristic is that most employees want executives who are honest. You're considered fair when you do what you say. Managers should also be competent to commit to someone else's intentions. It's also necessary to be able to trust that the other person knows what he's doing. Employees also expect their supervisors to be forward-looking, that they've a certain sense of the future (a vision, dream, goal) and that they feel involved in that future. The fourth characteristic is to be inspiring: through his enthusiasm, the manager shows his personal commitment to the realization of the vision.

If the leader isn't passionate about it, why should you expect it from others? In short, according to Kouzes and Posner, we want leaders who are credible and who have a clear vision of the future or as they put it so beautifully: The first law of leadership: If you don't believe in the messenger, you won't believe the message. Corollary: you can't believe the messenger if you don't know what the messenger believes.

According to the followers of the emotional intelligence (EQ) teaching, leadership is a skill that can be learned. EQ means the capacity to recognize your own feelings and those of others, to motivate yourself and to be able to deal well with emotions of yourself and those of your relationships. In terms of Goleman, someone with a high EQ is better able to lead and motivate people. This's characterized, for example, by giving honest and frequent feedback to colleagues and subordinates.

An American list of qualities of leaders

A completely different set of requirements was once drawn up by Jack Welch (ex-CEO of General Electric). According to him, managers should meet the requirements of 4-Es (and 1-P). The first requirement is that of (positive) Energy. He's referring to the ability to make pace - enjoy action and change. As a rule, people with positive energy are outgoing and optimistic. The second requirement is that of Enthousiasmeren. He sees positive energy as the ability to make other people enthusiastic. These are leaders who can inspire their team to tackle the impossible - and enjoy it intensively. Effectiveness is the ability to make difficult yes / no decisions and to make decisions. Effective leaders know when to stop estimating and when to tie a knot,

Execution means knowing how to get wheels moving after a decision and making sure the job gets done, despite all the resistance, confusion and unexpected obstacles. The last characteristic is Passion. With passion Welch means heartfelt and authentic enthusiasm for the work. Passionate people are involved - to the core - with colleagues, employees and friends. They like to learn and grow accordingly and find great satisfaction when they see people around them following their example.

Welch believes that every candidate for a management position should have the first two Es: positive energy and enthusiasm. Those are personality traits and he doesn't believe you can teach these people through training. Welch: "Honestly, I wouldn't recommend ever hiring a member of your team - manager or no manager - who doesn't have a significant dose of positive energy. People without this quality only get on the nerves of the organization. On the other hand, effectiveness and execution (the ability to cut knots and implementation discipline, respectively) can be developed through experience and management training. Time and time again I've witnessed how people learned to make difficult decisions and achieve results. '

A person's management style is influenced by many things

For years, psychologists and headhunters have been looking for - incidentally with little result - the personality traits on which managers can be selected. Personality then refers to the sum of a person's qualities, qualities and traits.

There's a major drawback to the personality school. After all, it seems that leadership isn't teachable for those who don't meet the required core brands. However, time and time again it turns out that few have all the properties. Many people develop over time and learn new skills. It's forgotten that behavior is also largely determined by the employees, the job characteristics of the work to be performed, the people to whom you report, the colleagues with whom you work daily and the organizational culture.

What the employeeconcerns not only his ability and willingness to perform a given task. Characteristics of the task include the distinction between routine work, project work and improvisation work. Improvisation work, for example, can hardly be managed, while routine work hardly needs to be managed anymore. Improvisation work mainly requires relationship-oriented support. Working on a project basis requires completely different skills. For example, they've to be able to work for more bosses and they're expected to be result-oriented. Based on experience with other supervisors (habituation) and on their own values ​​and norms, employees will adopt a certain leadership style and thereby 'force' their supervisor to exercise a certain management style.

The organization(strategy, structure, systems, etc.) can limit the manager's freedom to choose his own style. In almost no organization is the manager completely free to behave as he would like. Everyone must therefore to some extent conform to the views that exist about things such as commitment, manners, manner of exercising power, et cetera. Functioning in an organization is subject to many views about what should and shouldn't be. This includes, for example, the desired distance between the manager and his employees, whether or not they're allowed to tutor each other, the accessibility, the approachability of the superior or the degree of consultation required between the management and employees. In other words, it's about 'the way we do things around here'.

Superiors sometimes serve as a role model, as an example of how someone should behave as a leader in the organization. They can also influence his behavior through rewards or sanctions. After all, they determine the degree of freedom they give to you and thus the influence that you can exert on your employees.

The preference that someone as a manager has for a certain management style is further influenced by his personal goals and standards (do I think it's necessary to involve employees in this decision? I think it's a good thing that everyone can just walk in and out at me?), because of the degree of uncertainty he can handle and because of the correspondence between personal and organizational goals.

Most executives have a preferred style

Many executives think they've the flexibility to apply a different leadership style depending on the characteristics of their job, employees and environment. But it turns out that most executives usually use one style that they feel most comfortable with. They've developed a preferred management style. In other words, they've a (limited) behavioral repertoire. Behavior that's often based on previous experiences.

Managers who apply a style that matches their personality (and less so to the situation), their own values, standards and expectations of employee behavior and experience, can be successful through this 'genuineness'. Like for example Steve Jobs from Apple. He's considered one of the most successful entrepreneurs / managers of the early 2000s. But he isn't known as a warm, empathetic manager:

- he's a perfectionist, elitist, capricious, short tempered and an autocrat
- he's obsessive, narcissistic and demanding on his staff
- he regularly berates people for their skin
- you can see him as a control freak or as someone who strives for top quality
- he needs sparring partners who go against his ideas which he then (violently) goes against.

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