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Mon 22 Oct 2007 03:35 PM

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Business doctor

In the first of a four-part series on leadership, Dr Tommy Weir delves into the issue of what constitutes a good leader.

When the topic of leadership arises several questions immediately pop out. In addition to the ones above people ask, "Are leaders made or born?", "Is everyone a leader?"

Let's address these and discover what leadership is...

Leaders are definitely ‘born’ with something unique. However, it must be developed. Those leaders are also ‘made’.

Is leadership about having a title or a specific position in a company? Unfortunately, many people have stripped leadership down to holding a position. It is far, far more than this. Leadership has little to do with a job or title. Just to be clear, many people who hold leadership positions are not leaders.

Now don't get me wrong, there is an element of leadership that comes with a position. But it is not personal leadership; it is positional leadership. This type of leadership only lasts as long as the person occupies the position. Additionally, this type of leadership is very limited in its influence and impact.

Is everyone a leader? Go to the school yard and look at a group of first graders playing. What do you find? It will be clear that some kids are leaders. Make no mistake about it, some rise to the opportunity and lead. It is not because they occupy a particular position on the playground or even because someone told the child that he or she is a leader. They are natural leaders.

I like to ask the question, "What do leaders do?" Obviously, they lead! They do so because of who they are. Leadership comes from their personality.

But, not everyone is a leader. In today's popular market, many people have an egalitarian view that everyone is a leader. People try to argue that everyone can lead. That simply is not true. Not every person has the ability to become a leader.

Keep in mind, there is a difference in leadership and being a leader.

If being a leader does not come from occupying a position, where does it come from? Are leaders made or born? Leaders are made out of what they are born with. Obviously this is a controversial question and we could debate it, but experience makes clear that the ability to lead is intrinsic for leaders. Leaders are definitely "born" with something unique. However, it must be developed. Those leaders are also "made" through experience, environment, and education.

Now for the fundamental question, what is leadership?

If you were to search, you would find that there are over 850 different definitions of "leadership". Why does the world have such a hard time stating what leadership is? This is especially the case when there does not seem to be a problem recognising when it is present or complaining in its absence.

No matter what definition you look to, you will find that there are three elements: 1) someone does something, 2) there are followers, and 3) something is to be accomplished/achieved.

Let's define it...Leadership is the act that moves others' energies to achieve specific objectives. And a leader is a person who moves others' energies to achieve specific objectives. Notice the slight difference in the definitions. A leader is a person and leadership is an act.

Again, not every one is or will be a leader. But everyone can and should contribute to the act of leadership.

Dr Tommy Weir is the founder of US-based Encore Consulting and is now head of learning and development at UAE property developer, Nakheel. Dr Weir specialises in Middle Eastern leadership development.

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