SESSION 4: Leadership Webquest Discussion Forum Assignment
Colorado Christian University
Professor Deborah Burd
September 15, 2013
ARE LEADERS BORN OR MADE?
All leaders are born; however, their birth does not define them as a leader. However, what is implied in this question is whether or not leadership is an innate or acquired ability. Do some people simply have a “natural” inclination to lead or are there other factors that inform their leadership skills and acumen? Or to look at this question from another perspective, why do some people demonstrate leadership and others do not?
To answer the first question, there has been extensive research in the literature on what constitutes a leader, how charisma emerges or become part of a person’s persona, and under what conditions and subject to what factors do leadership qualities develop, and finally, how does a person elicit the ‘followship’ that defines them as a leader. In the person of Jesus Christ who was born of woman, we find the innate or incarnate leader who was made by God Almighty, his Father. All of the qualities, abilities, and skills that define a leader is found in and demonstrated to all of mankind by Him in the Servant-Leader. Accordingly, Alyssa Gregory, a small business collaborator and founder of a collaborative community for entrepreneur, who defined leadership as “having an ability and desire to inspire and influence others”, as” being courageous and willing to speak out for the betterment of those around you”, and “as having atypical intelligence, creativity and/or drive”. See http://www.sitepoint.com/are-great-leaders-born-or-made/
Considering that Jesus expressed the Mind and Will of His Father, he is the most atypical intelligence, creativity, and drive in Creation who demonstrated His divine ability and desire to not only speak out against the hypocrisy of the age in which he ministered and for all time, but also confirmed this definition through His courageous teachings to influence our lives for our eternal salvation in the face of fallen man and pay for our sins on the Cross. Without specifically identifying this definition of other-focused service, Gregory is indirectly describing the characteristics of the servant-leader epitomized by our Lord Jesus.
The second question posed herein relates more to the prompt in that it looks at the person in the context our human condition as persons born “in the image of God”. It asks what is the distinction between the person who is a leader and others who are not and why leadership qualities are present in one person and absent in others. Central to this discussion is the nature of our creation: we were given free will, different from all the other animals. This expression of mind and consequent action unique to mankind has allowed us to make choices in our thoughts and behaviors. Our thoughts include our vision or assessment of what is and what ought to be according to our values which the President and CEO of Predictable Success, Les McKeown (2013) states as the ability to “see much more than you do”, the first of three signs he say mean one is meant to be a leader. The second sign is that “you lead only when you have to, not all the time” and that “true leaders don’t presume that it’s their divine right to take charge every time two or more people get together. Quite the opposite.” See http://www.inc.com/les-mckeown/3-signs-youre-a-true-leader.html
This second point resonates with the correction Jesus made to his disciples who were arguing over their individual “divine rights” to be in charge when Jesus was no longer with them. The “opposite” that McKeown alludes to is that a natural leader does not assume the position of what he calls a “gotta-be-in-fronter” (2013) or as Jesus taught in Matthew 20:16 (New Living Translation), “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last”. In John 13:14-17 (New Living Translation), Jesus taught his disciples (and us) that this opposite position of a leader is the position of the servant when He said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them”. This blessing indicates the third sign of a leader as defined by McKeown: a leader “changes people. They achieve outcomes”. Jesus changed the hearts of people through His service to others according to the Will of God. We were made or created to do the same and we are born on earth to with the ability to choose to fulfill our divine mission as servant-leaders in all walks of our lives and the lives of others.
CAN ANYONE BE A LEADER?
Any person born is available to be leader. The opportunity or choice to be a leader does not speak to the “can” or ability to lead. So the question becomes does anyone or everyone have the ability to lead or is the ability to become a leader acquired.
The idea that the opportunity to lead is a birthright is supported, in part by Mick Ukleja (2013), the President and CEO of LeadershipTraQ and the founder of the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership at the College of Business Administration at California State University, Long Beach. In his article, Can Anyone Be A Leader? (Are They Born, Or Made?), in which he states that “according to current research, about 30 percent of a person’s leadership ability is genetic, and the rest is learned – but not necessarily in school” and that “much of that which is learned comes through life experiences. The other 70 percent he states is acquired through the contributions to our life experience and that the “challenges, hardships, work experiences, education, colleagues, direct and indirect role models and personal outlook contribute to our ability to lead”. See http://lbbusinessjournal.com/leadership/1540-can-anyone-be-a-leader-are-they-born-or-made.html
Conversely, Paul Roggenkamp (2012), Founder/Principal at LEADwithCOURAGE, a leadership development program, retorts that the “answer is, “No.” Not everyone can be a leader, either because not everyone has the capabilities required to lead, or everyone does not have the opportunity to be in a leadership position”. He extends his argument to include the claim that “every team, organization or business needs followers for the leaders to lead. In fact, our world is comprised of more followers than leaders”. See http://leadwithcourage.com/blog/can-anyone-be-a-leader/
But Roggenkamp’s assertion that only a few have the capabilities required for leadership does not address how those capabilities are had or acquired. Additionally, if leaders need followers and followers need leaders, isn’t the opportunity to lead or be in a leadership position everywhere? Or put another way, if leaders need servants and servants need leaders, how are the abilities of servant-leaders or leader-servants acquired?
God through His Son, Jesus, showed us that the answer is and has always been, “YES”!!! By becoming servants of God-first and man-second, a dull fisherman, a corrupted tax collector, a disgraced woman, and millions of others following the example of the Servant-Leader acquired the understanding of who their Creator is, who their Savior is, who they are, who their fellow brothers and sisters are, and how to be leaders (or fishers) of men: serve them!
HOW ARE WE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER?
We are all in this together because we are alternately leaders and followers in this life, alternately servants and those being served, depending on our position in the decision-making or management or implementation process of any given activity. Moreover, in our Father’s world, we are either aware of His control of His creation or not. But, regardless of our understanding of God’s supreme authority and control, we are all in this together life together. Marjorie Pay Hinckley, an author of Small and Simple Things and a Mormon, is quoted as saying, “We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young, and hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old…We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other. These friendships are a necessary source of sustenance. We need to renew our faith every day. We need to lock arms and help build the kingdom so that it will roll forth and fill the whole earth.” See http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/83375-we-are-all-in-this-together-we-need-each-other
This author and her work aptly illustrate the human need for connection to God and each other in a world of unconnected, competing, and adversarial ideas and behavior. For on this earth we have to remain cognizant of our nature, that we were divinely created with the will to choose good or evil and of the outcomes of our choices, past and present. As stated in the Spiritual Life (2006-2013), ”The ontological unity of humanity is such that every separate individual overcoming evil in himself inflicts such a defeat on cosmic evil that its consequences have a beneficial effect on the destinies of the whole world. On the other hand, the nature of cosmic evil is such that, vanquished in certain human hypostases [persons] it suffers a defeat the significance and extent of which are quite disproportionate to the number of individuals concerned”. See http://glory2godforallthings.com/2007/01/23/were-all-in-this-together/
It is the ability of every separate individual, therefore, to be connected, to be in service, and to lead themselves and others in overcoming evil through the simple awareness of our shared humanity and our divinity in God through His Word and His Son.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A LEADER, A MANAGER, AND A FOLLOWER?
A leader has a defined goal(s) or objectives(s) in support of a vision and sets the course to accomplish those goal(s) or objective(s) based on the leader’s philosophy or principles on how to best fulfill that vision. A manager is responsible for ensuring the efficient and timely execution of the directives and/or implementation of the policies and procedures to accomplish the leader’s goals or objectives. A follower, manager, and leader are those who alternately collaborate with the implementation and execution of the goals and objectives of the leader through personal leadership, who alternately collaborate with the management of the efficient and timely execution of policies and procedures related to goal and objective implementation and execution through personal management, and who collaborate with and influences others to do the same.
In a cross-sectional study on 27 corporate employees by Kelly Rouse Riesenmy of Regent University (2008), The Moderating Role of Follower, Identification in the Relationship Between Leader and Follower Visionary Leadership, relationships between leader and follower leadership behaviors and follower research are important to understand these relationships as interrelational and influential. This study provides real-world validation of the connectedness of all levels of leadership and servanthood. See http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/elj/vol1iss2/ELJ_V1Is2_Riesenmy.pdf
The functions of leadership and servanthood are further defined in the roles of the leader, manager, and follower by Ron Alvesteffer, the President of Service Express, Inc., (SEI), a computer company that was named in the Best & Brightest Companies To Work For in the Nation in 2011 and winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility in 2009 and 2010. Although Alvesteffer sees these roles as distinct with very specific and independent responsibilities and skill-sets in his article, The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager (2013), he concludes that “Sustainable high-performance cultures are purpose-driven. Leaders lead and managers manage. Both are in agreement and are bound by a common (often written) corporate code. Their symbiotic relationship serves employees and organizations, well”. See http://ronalvesteffer.com/the-difference-between-a-leader-and-a-manager/
Thus, the symbiotic relationship of purpose-driven service binds leaders, managers, and the employees and organization or followers in a common agreement. When the people of this earth realize that that common agreement extends to the service of all mankind, the purpose of our existence within the Will of God, to be in common agreement to “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” Matthew 22:37-40 (New International Version).
WHAT DOES THE GENERAL PUBLIC THINK OF AS “LEADER”?
The general public, if I can speak for the general public, seems to regard leaders as those who are renowned, powerful, and/or influential and most commonly are viewed as those operating in a political or civic context. Less commonly recognized are leaders of industry, fashion and entertainment leaders, educational leaders, social group leaders, Christian leaders, etc. This is the commonly promoted undifferentiated view of a ‘general public’ ontology. However, in all of these various versions of “leaders”, different people groups have sought to find a reflection of themselves in the leaders with whom they identify. They seek or identify with a leader in service to themselves and their vision of themselves. Republicans don’t see a reflection of themselves in Obama and therefore don’t identify or think of him as their leader, professors don’t see a reflection of themselves in famous athletes and therefore don’t identify or think of them as their leaders, businessmen and women don’t see a reflection of themselves in the unemployed and therefore don’t identify or think of them as their leaders, prisoners don’t see a reflection of themselves in judges and therefore don’t identify or think of them as their leaders, poor children don’t see a reflection of themselves in teachers from affluency and therefore don’t identify or think of them as leaders, etc.
The leaders of main-stream middle-class America, for example, are identified in a recent article in U.S. News and World Report (2013), America’s Best Leaders. Some of the persons that are compatible with the self-images of the readership of this media giant and identified as leaders are Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Fiona Harrison & Maria Zuber, NASA scientists and the first two women to head their own NASA robotic space missions, Freeman Hrabowski, academician at University of Maryland-Baltimore County who helped turn a no-name commuter college into a center for math and science, Amory Lovins, alternative energy developer at Rocky Mountain Institute, Indra Nooyi, chief executive at Pepsi Corp who is embracing a healthful foods direction for the company, Steven Spielberg, filmmaker who is addressing some important issues on the big screen, and through his philanthropy, and Michael Tilson Thomas, a maverick maestro at the San Francisco Symphony who is winning big crowds of new classical music fans to name a few. See http://www.usnews.com/news/special-reports/features/best-leaders
However, to address a broader view of who the leaders in America are requires a different lens or lenses. Most of the “leaders” of this present world and its mouthpiece, the media industry, are sourced, promoted, and sold to the general public. These “leaders” are, more often than not, in service to first to themselves and then to their narrow constituencies. However, there have been other leaders in service to God and their fellow human brothers and sisters, the servant leaders of America. According to James Perry, former candidate for Mayor of New Orleans in 2010, “Martin Luther King, Jr. is an example of a servant leader. His life shows the extraordinary power of servant leadership to radically transform a nation”. At the time of his article, he went on to say, “Our communities and our country need servant leadership more than ever. Deepening economic woes threaten the American dream for far too many working people. Racial divisions are embarrassingly persistent in too many aspects of our economic and social lives. Political despair is battering the uniquely American optimism that has made us a great nation. There are precious few servant leaders in our current political environment. Many elected officials are more interested in personal power, individual legacy, and financial gain than in the sacrifice and commitment that servant leadership requires”. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-perry/martin-luther-king-jr-a-t_b_427417.html
Martin Luther King, Jr. has come to be regarded by the “general public” of America as a great leader. But, is the situation as Mr. Perry describes? Are there “precious few servant leaders” in our current environment? Or is it that they not identified by mainstream media because they are not in service to power and profit? I believe there are servant-leaders in American, many, many unsung heroes and heroines who are in all walks of life, on all levels of society, and in service to others as servant-leaders, servant-managers, and servants to God and His people, His creation here and around the world. I just pray that we don’t wait until our current servant-leaders are dead to recognize them as we have done with our crucified Lord Jesus and with the assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr.
Alvesteffer, R. (2013, March 13). The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager. Retrieved from http://ronalvesteffer.com/the-difference-between-a-leader-and-a-manager/
“America’s Best Leaders”. (2013). US News and World Report. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/news/special-reports/features/best-leaders
Glory to God for All Things.com (2006-2013). We’re All In This Together. Retrieved from http://glory2godforallthings.com/2007/01/23/were-all-in-this-together/
Gregory, A. (2009, July 16). Are Great Leaders Born or Made? Retrieved from http://www.sitepoint.com/are-great-leaders-born-or-made/
Hinckley, M. P. (2013). Goodreads. Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/83375-we-are-all-in-this-together-we-need-each-other
John 13:14-17 (New Living Translation). Retreived from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+13%3A14-17&version=NLT
Matthew 22:37-40 (New International Version). Retreived from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22&version=NIV
Matthew 20:16 (New Living Translation). Retreived from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+20%3A16&version=NLT
McKeown, L. (2013, June 18). 3 Sig ns You’re Meant to Be a Leader. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/les-mckeown/3-signs-youre-a-true-leader.html
Perry, J. (2010, January 18). “Martin Luther King, Jr.: A True Servant-Leader”. Huffington Post-Politics: The Blog. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-perry/martin-luther-king-jr-a-t_b_427417.html
Riesenmy, K.R. (2008). “The Moderating Role of Follower, Identification in the Relationship Between Leader and Follower Visionary Leadership”, Emerging Leadership Journeys, 1:2, p. 62-77. Retrieved from http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/elj/vol1iss2/ELJ_V1Is2_Riesenmy.pdf
Roggenkamp, P, (2012, November 5). Can anyone be a leader? Retrieved from http://leadwithcourage.com/blog/can-anyone-be-a-leader/
Ukleja, M. (2013, May 21). Effective Leadership ,Can Anyone Be A Leader? (Are They Born, Or Made?). Retrieved from http://lbbusinessjournal.com/leadership/1540-can-anyone-be-a-leader-are-they-born-or-made.html