I was once told by a CEO during a company meeting to "lead from where you stand." At first, I thought this was just some motivational catchphrase to encourage authority within our departments. However, once I thought more about it I realized the "lead from where you stand" was practical. If leadership is a process and the natural born trait approach has proven questionable then why can't managers be leaders? Management has often been described as a function which provides order and consistency to an organization (Northouse, 2013). In no way do I make any argument with that; however, as we will see much of the duties of a leader are shared with management, therefore, the argument will be made that managers can often be great leaders.
Do all job titles encompass what a job really consists of? Most of the time, the title reflects the function and authority. Leadership can go beyond the title and defy the need for an executive label. I don't remember seeing any business cards, email signatures, or name tags stating "Leader" under their name. Northouse states that "leadership is a process that is similar to management in many ways. Leadership involves influence, as does management. Leadership entails working with people, which management entails as well. Leadership is concerned with effective goal accomplishment, and so is management (Northouse, 2013). Furthermore Northouse details four components that are central to the phenomenon of leadership which include: a process, involving influence, occurs within a group context, and involves goal attainment (PSU WC, L1). This all seems practical and attainable by most people with positions that have influence over a group. With that said, there will most definitely be managers that are not interested in leading or do not share similar values with either the company or the executives and are simply idling along.
So in must be the traits. Not exactly, although early researchers believed that a leader was born with certain personality traits and only "great" people possessed them; further research has suggested that there was no consistency between traits of leaders and those of followers (PSU WC, L2). Not all people are leaders nor are all managers leaders; however, there tends to be certain qualities that are present or learned by leaders. This is where the Five Factor Model of Personality enters. Since there are so many terms that can describe a leader the FFM of personality categorizes these terms into five dimensions which include: Conscientiousness (Dependability), Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, and Extraversion (PSU WC, L2). However, if one was to solely subscribe to the trait approach it would diminished the situational and process theory. Therefore, great leaders seem to have certain qualities and traits but do not need to be born with them.
To conclude, leadership is attainable to all who seek it if a combination of processes and traits are learned. When learning to be a leader one must be willing to focus on the four components of leadership as they are the cornerstone of leadership according to Northouse. Additionally, a leader must count on his/her strong personality traits and strengthen their weaknesses within the Five Factor Model of Personality. If a manager can improve their understanding of the aforementioned processes and qualities, than they will most likely lead from where they stand.
Northouse, P. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, Inc.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2012, Sept). Introduction to Leadership. Retrieved 2012, from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/fa12/psych485/002/content/01_lesson/01_page.html
Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2012, Sept). Trait Approach. Retrieved 2012, from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/fa12/psych485/002/content/02_lesson/01_page.html