Last week, we launched our new First-Time Manager Microlearning Program. As we worked to develop this curriculum, I wondered: Do I have what it takes to be a great leader? Who does? How do you know?
A quick Google search would tell you that leadership comes down to your personality traits. Top results like the Air Force’s Leadership Traits List list would have you believe that you have to be charismatic, dominant, and assertive to lead successfully.
If that sounds familiar, that’s because these descriptors echo over 100 years of leadership theories. In the mid-1800s, the philosopher Thomas Carlyle popularized the Trait Leadership Theory, arguing that some people have inborn traits that predispose them for leadership. And in 1913, the sociologist Max Weber argued that the best leaders have charisma and unquestionable authority.
But, what if these traits don’t sound like you? Does that mean you’re not destined for greatness? That you’ll never lead or even worse, you’ll never lead effectively? Not necessarily. It turns out, all of these trait-based models are looking at the problem wrong. (more…)