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Are Leaders Born or Developed?


Feb. 27, 2017 Freddie Scott

There is an ongoing debate about whether leaders are born or developed. Though there is research to indicate some people are born with attributes that are associated with leadership, we have discovered that those attributes won’t guarantee their success as a leader. In fact, the attributes that allow for a leader to be successful and sustain a positive influence on others can be developed over time.

That being said, it is important to identify the attributes that are most correlated to success, and what are things that can be developed over time.

In an effort to explore the connection between a persons personality and their leadership potential, I explored the research searching for any patterns or predictability. The authors used the five-factor model as the organizing framework and analyzed 222 correlations from 73 samples (Judge, Bono, Ilies, Gerhardt, 2002). The five-factors include Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness.

In examining their research, I focused on the five-factors to predict leadership by reviewing the approach used by the authors – a qualitative review of the trait perspective in leadership research, followed by using meta-analysis.

The purpose of the study was to provide a quantitative review of the relationship between personality and leadership. The authors use the five-factors as an organizing framework to estimate relations between personality and leadership (Judge, Bono, Ilies, Gerhardt, 2002).

The Five-Factors.

The components of the five-factor model are Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Consientiousness.

    • Neuroticism represents the tendency to exhibit poor emotional adjustment and experience negative affects.
    • Extraversion represents the tendency to be sociable, assertive, active, and to experience positive affects.
    • Openness to Experience is the disposition to be imaginative, nonconforming, unconventional, and autonomous.
    • Agreeableness is the tendency to be trusting, compliant, caring, and gentle.
    • Conscientiousness is comprised of two related facets: achievement and dependability
      • (Judge, Bono, Ilies, Gerhardt, 2002).

The five-factors have be found to relevant to many aspects of life (DeNeve & Cooper, 1998). Click “Read More” for the Results and Findings of my research on leadership.

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