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Some Leaders Are Born, Most Are Made
By Ray Silverstein

We hear a lot about the need for leadership, but what exactly is it and why is it important?

To many, leadership is acting like Teddy Roosevelt, leading the charge of San Juan Hill. To some , it is Lee Iacoca taking Chrysler from malaise to success. In essence, we think of people in roles where leadership is expected; but in the business setting, leadership is moving people through mostly noncoercive means toward a goal or objective.

Leadership is more important that ever today in the business arena. This is due to the growing complexity of business and the rapid changes in technology, distribution and competition. Theses changes make leadership necessary not only at the top of the firm but at every level of activity.

Is leadership something you are born with, or can it be an acquired trait? In short, leadership can be developed.

The first criterion required for effective leadership is motivation. This can be inborn or can be achieved from life experiences.

Next are personal values. Leaders must have integrity, trust, openness and a work ethic.

The abilities and skills are partly inborn, but the majority are created in life activities such as education, career experiences and socials situations, An individual's reputation and track record from career experience create the confidence and self esteem to motivate and lead others.

Industry knowledge and organizational skills are developed by the work experience. A person's career or job experience and exposure adds many ingredients to his or her development as a leader.

Many studies have been done on the importance of leadership in large firms, but from my experience and observation, it is equally, if not more important, in small companies.

The role of the CEO is to foster the development of the leadership skills within all levels of management. Each person in a small firm must make a much larger contribution than a person in a larger firm. Business management should work to maximize each hire - not just to fill a position, but to bring in the technical skill to accomplish the job. Most important, new hires need the leadership potential to move the group toward the goal. The CEO must also create the environment for leaders to develop by providing education, career opportunity and experience.

John P. Kotter of the Harvard Business School, author " The Leadership Factor," said, " A firm that has taken the time to develop practices and programs that build strong management teams able to provide business with effective leadership has a most powerful source of competitive advantage today,"



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