Saturday, January 21, 2012

Superior Leaders

Superior leaders often possess certain natural born traits that make being a successful and effective leader more likely. The most important of these traits are honesty and integrity. These qualities (especially integrity) cannot be taught, and every potential leader freely chooses to either accept or reject these virtues. On one hand, they represent innate characteristics that potential leaders virtuously aspire to uphold which, in turn, enhances followers' respect. On the contrary, non-potential leaders do not value or possess these traits and are subsequently set up for failure or, at best, mock success. Honesty and integrity are requisites of superior leadership as they "form the foundation of a trusting relationship between leader and followers" (Wren, 1995, p. 138).

Similar to the fact that the best athletic coaches are often those who were not superstars as players, people who possess average charisma and/or personality have the potential to be truly superior leaders. These types of people have had to work hard for their successes and have a clear understanding of the followers' mindset. In fact, Wren (1995) suggests that charisma often becomes a leader's undoing.
Just as superstars are often too "full of themselves" to be effective coaches, so too are leaders whose charisma narcissistically "gets in the way" of effective leadership. In fact, although a certain amount of charisma is a plus, charismatic leaders are not necessary "to influence followers to comply with and carry out the vision of the leader. Rather, the vision itself needs to reflect and draw upon the vast resources contained within individual employees" (Wren, 1995, pp. 219-220). "Regardless of personal style, an individual can be inspirational to a good portion of colleagues" (Zenger, 2009, p. 20). Hence, even if a person is perceived to have only an average personality, he/she can have a dedicated following through trust and credibility.

Wren, J.T. (1995). The leader's companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: Free Press.

Zenger, J.H. (2009). Challenging times demand inspiring leadership. Financial Executive 25(6), 18-22. Retrieved from

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