General Question

Inspired_2write's avatar

What determines a leader?

Asked by Inspired_2write (12031points) March 23rd, 2016

In sociology class years ago a Professor stated that “leaders are people that are not normal in the sense that these people stand out from the “norm” because of looks,character,insight,or anything that is perceived as different from the what society
( or what the group they are associated with determines what is normal) thinks.
Hence original thinking out of the box for solutions makes for a leader, whether for good or bad?

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6 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

It depends on what kind of leader is wanted or required.

For most of his life, Winston Churchill had “the qualities of a leader”, but for a good part of his political life he was an outsider, a back-bencher, unwanted. But when the time came… he was there, and ready to assume the mantle.

Same with Abraham Lincoln. He came from mean beginnings, taught himself law, lost more elections than most of us have even voted in, and then became – regardless of whether you think he was a “good” one or not, or how you feel about the rightness of the cause – the leader who more than any single person preserved the Union of the United States.

Aside from politics, though, leaders are where you find them, and what you want them to be. In my own organization, I’m “the leader” when it comes to Excel spreadsheets, data collections, technical references and search capability through our far-flung data collections and archives, and “the computer guy” for the group. (Sort of a glorified librarian – not that they don’t have their own glory.)

But when it comes to detailed, technical questions about boiler construction and commissioning, there are others in our group who I defer to. (As the Environmental Health and Safety guy, those questions are deferred to me. I’m also the de facto ASME reference guy.)

I’m also the best-looking one here, but we tend not to select leaders on that basis here, dammit. But I’m also the best writer (by default, since I’m pretty much the only one), so there’s that. Really, no one cares about that, either.

NerdyKeith's avatar

To me a leader is an individual of great charisma and with the power to sway the masses for a common good, or shared goals.

CWOTUS's avatar

The proper response to this question has only now occurred to me, and should supplant my earlier answer.

What determines a leader is … followers.

JLeslie's avatar

I think competence, charisma, and a track record of good decisions. Additionally, it’s someone who can build loyalty from their followers/subordinates. Either from trust, respect, or caring about the person, or any combination of those things.

LostInParadise's avatar

In addition to all the above qualifications, a leader must be someone who can get things done. This means that a leader has to be decisive and willing to take calculated risks. Making no decision can be worse than making a suboptimal one. As the saying goes, the perfect can be the enemy of the good.

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