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TehRoflMobile's avatar

What makes a leader?

Asked by TehRoflMobile (780points) February 6th, 2010

-Where does leadership stem from?
-Do we all have the ability to be leaders?
-Do some people just possess the ability to lead or take charge?
-Are people sometimes shaped or manipulated into becoming leaders without their permission?

I know that is a lot of questions. Just state your opinion, you don’t need to answer each one.

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15 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

Good question, since I don’t really know, I can only speculate that leadership can be improved on, but for some it’s just a natural trait, like being an extrovert or introvert, being business saavy or being a bookworm etc. This could stem from stuff they’ve learned througout their lives or some really could just be natural leaders.

Kind of like how some people are really good at haggling prices, and others (like me) just give up and usually get screwed paying way more than they have to.

slick44's avatar

Someone who nos what the hell their doing!

Holden_Caulfield's avatar

Interestingly enough, Leadership is not defined by how you see yourself, but rather, how others see you and what motivates them to follow you as a leader. There have been numerous studies and the qualities of importance for one to be followed as a leader as defined by those who look to a leader to lead are the following in order of importance based pon follower/leader feedback:

1) Honest
2) Forward Looking
3) Competent
4) Inspiring

These attributes have been consistently held as leadership qualities in polls with people that make them want to follow a particular person.

Of course, there are false leadership qualities that temporarily inspire followers, but it never lasts. Totally different topic.. but just as interesting, nonetheless.

Spinel's avatar

A good leader listens to all before coming to a decision, when time allows. A good leader is aware of that his/her example is being watched, and s/he carefully acts. A good leader will appreciate his subordinates and peers greatly, and will do and plan around them. A good leader will have the guts to make good, even if unpopular decisions in a sudden, time crunched situation, and s/he will have the guts to say what needs to be said. A good leader will educate him/herself to improve his or her decision making skills. Finally, a good leader will be willing to accept blame and negativity feedback; s/he will leave the room last.

Spinel's avatar


Everyone has the ability to lead and boss, but not everyone hast the ability be a good leader. And some people are just naturally more bossy than others…

Circumstances can force one to be a “leader.” For example, the high school I went to was fool of shy people, procrastinators and plain ole’ sluggards. I was a bossy and “get-it-done-now” type person. We often had group assignments, and most students I was partnered with were to reserved or lazy to direct. This lasted throughout high-school and the experience forced me to see leadership beyond the bossy attribute.

marinelife's avatar

A good leader inspires others to follow their example.

A good leader is all about what they do and not what they say.

A good leader notices what is going on around them, what people on their team are feeling, how they are doing, etc.

CaptainHarley's avatar

A good leader sets the example for those he leads, including integrity, honor and courage. A good leader is willing to take the heat for those he leads when those outside the organization have problems with them. A good leader communicates well and often with both his subordinates and with those above him. A good leader inspires those he leads to achieve beyond that of which they think they are capable. A good leader allows his people to fail, then uses each failure as a learning experience. A good leader ensures that his people are well-trained, that they have the equipment and materials they need to do their jobs, sets general goals for them, then makes himself avilable to function as their consultant when needed. A good leader is always thinking about how he can develop his subordinates to be more effective in their jobs, and how he can reward those who reach beyond themselves. A good leader always gives credit where credit is due. A good leader is always his own worst critic, and makes every effort to become a better leader.

chocomonkey's avatar

Great question.

Conterintuitively, a great leader is someone who listens, reflects and makes his/her own decisions. (Case in point, I’d rather work for / be in the country led by an Obama than a W.) Most people tend to agree with that definition, though maybe only half agree with “my case in point” ;)

As to how leaders get made – recent research suggests that unstructured collaborative play in childhood is key. That’s a mouthful but amounts to – we need to play with other kids without an adult around and without a pre-established goal (eg soccer practice) so that we can decide together (somehow) what to play, keep everyone playing together, etc. to learn how to lead.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ve asked myself this many times. I think self confidence and trust play two big parts.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Any idiot can wear bars, oak leaves or eagles on their collar. A leader is one who shows how it is to be done, not afraid to get hands dirty or shot at. People will naturally follow someone who knows what he or she is doing and is actually doing it. The other so-called “leaders” are just place-holders on the T/O. Any competant clerk can handle administrative details, let may “leaders” make a career out of just that…rubbish.

Trillian's avatar

A leader gets people to go where he wants not by pushing or pulling but inspiring. When a leader relays an order that’s unpopular, he doesn’t shift the blame, but takes it and does not undermine the authority above him. He is liberal with praise and criticizes from a “let’s try to do better” standpoint. He empowers his people to the extent which he is able, and takes the heat for issues as part of the days work.

Cruiser's avatar

A good leader can very quickly assess and realize a solution to a problem that requires more people to accomplish the task and convince others that helping him/her accomplish that task is a good thing. Plus that leader has to convince others that he/she are accountable for any failure that may occur and to also convey that win or lose those who help will some way benefit from their participation.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. A leader is one who gives you confidence because of their good wisdom and or judgment. They make you want to follow them as oppose to trying to get you to follow them by threat of fear, that is basically what a leader is.

mass_pike4's avatar

I am taking a leadership class at school. I’ll get back to you when I have a great description for it and understand it more. It is very hard to narrow it down to what makes a leader because there are so many different types of leaders that possess different characteristics. Not every good leader will have the same characteristics as another good leader

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think it’s an inherent quality, leadership – but it does have if you have an outgoing personality and an ability to interact with many people. I have been in leadership roles all my life mostly because I wanted the responsibility and being responsible for many things didn’t scare me like it did others. Being a leader of a college club is different from being a leader of a homeless group – you have to know who you’re working with and what’s the most important thing to get done is for this moment. I do think all people have the ability to lead especially because most people are experts in some field or another but they just don’t feel like it’s right for them and therefore they shouldn’t lead. In some ways, leadership comes from experience – once you know you’re good at organizing people and handling details, you will have more confidence and will volunteer to lead more frequently.

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