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View Full Version : Are leaders "born" or can they be "made"



Worf101
07-31-2007, 06:29 AM
After a long training session last night, me and my fellow RedTails were sitting in HL waiting for the room to fill. "99th_Patches" and "99th_Lakota" are both Nam vets. The Military Channel was showing a program about how misdirected airsupport had wiped out a bunch of friendlies and Patches had been in that engagement.

This got us talking long and strong about "leadership" what it is, the current dearth of it, and whether you're either born with it or can be taught it. Bearcat, Snake, Patches, Lakota and I were all ex-servicemen and most of us were combat vets. We as a man felt that "leaders were born, not made".

Now Patches pointed out that even though a man or woman may be a "natural born leader", someone has to teach him or her how to read a map and direct fire etc... so even a born leader must be taught some things. But that intangible that separates wolves and sheep, ah that's another matter. What's your take.

Da Worfster

Worf101
07-31-2007, 06:29 AM
After a long training session last night, me and my fellow RedTails were sitting in HL waiting for the room to fill. "99th_Patches" and "99th_Lakota" are both Nam vets. The Military Channel was showing a program about how misdirected airsupport had wiped out a bunch of friendlies and Patches had been in that engagement.

This got us talking long and strong about "leadership" what it is, the current dearth of it, and whether you're either born with it or can be taught it. Bearcat, Snake, Patches, Lakota and I were all ex-servicemen and most of us were combat vets. We as a man felt that "leaders were born, not made".

Now Patches pointed out that even though a man or woman may be a "natural born leader", someone has to teach him or her how to read a map and direct fire etc... so even a born leader must be taught some things. But that intangible that separates wolves and sheep, ah that's another matter. What's your take.

Da Worfster

TgD Thunderbolt56
07-31-2007, 06:32 AM
Even people that don't want to lead or that have little clue can be tought or can pick up the reins in time of need and do an excellent job of it. I think good leaders can be made. However, I think GREAT leaders are a combination of both.

Personally, I don't think birthright makes anyone a good leader.


TB

MEGILE
07-31-2007, 06:33 AM
All leaders are made.. from the moment they come out the womb, they are born into an environment which decides what they will become.

Crash_Moses
07-31-2007, 06:42 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by TgD Thunderbolt56:
Even people that don't want to lead or that have little clue can be tought or can pick up the reins in time of need and do an excellent job of it. I think good leaders can be made. However, I think GREAT leaders are a combination of both.

Personally, I don't think birthright makes anyone a good leader.


TB </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

+1

Great leaders are victims of circumstance just like everybody else and I think experience accounts for a lot of what makes any leader great or otherwise.

Fox_3
07-31-2007, 06:49 AM
Anyone can be a leader, because most people follow blindly like sheep.

Mechant_Schmidt
07-31-2007, 06:51 AM
Both.
If Napoleon hadn't been sent to a military school then, given the command of an artillery unit at Toulon, AND if all this had happened 20 years BEFORE the French revolution, he might have been the best insurance salesman ever...but a gift needs nurturing and a bit of luck.

Uncle_Stranger
07-31-2007, 06:51 AM
Leaders are not made. You can only be born with the task/gift to lead.

Someone can try really hard to lead but can't. He just wasn't meant to be a leader.

On the other hand there are people with extraordinary personal qualities that attract followers.

stalkervision
07-31-2007, 06:53 AM
Truly great leaders usually didn't want the job originally..

Worf101
07-31-2007, 06:58 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by TgD Thunderbolt56:
Even people that don't want to lead or that have little clue can be tought or can pick up the reins in time of need and do an excellent job of it. I think good leaders can be made. However, I think GREAT leaders are a combination of both.

Personally, I don't think birthright makes anyone a good leader.


TB </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
So you don't believe that great combat leaders were born with some innate measures of aggression, focus, guts or courage, you feel that these things can be "taught"? I don't, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's arse. Just can't be done.

Da Worfster

K_Freddie
07-31-2007, 07:06 AM
Born out of necessity... the rest are wannabees
http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif
Examples:
Hitler - Brought Germany out of the ruins, but destroyed it through greed and stupidity.

Churchill - Arrived in time to save the UK from defeat and was the biggest (no pun intended http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif ) figurehead of the allies throughout WW2. He was not suited for peacetime leadership when the usual 'backstabbing' wannabees took over.

Bearcat99
07-31-2007, 07:23 AM
I see both sides but I tend to lean more with Worf... especially after reading The Biggest Brother the story of D!ck Winters (An EXCELLENT read so far btw). The character traits that made him a good leader were taught to him.. but much of it was just in him. The same thing with Eisenhower... Patton... Davis.... Roberts these guys were natural leaders and what they learned onlyh tended to enhance the natural leadership. To go back to Band of Brothers as an example... what was it that made Capt. Sobel & Lt. **** such poor leaders? The both had the same training as Winters.... even Lipton was a better leader than the ones who had the training to BE leaders... and that was not taught.. it was just in them.

Crash_Moses
07-31-2007, 07:33 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Worf101:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by TgD Thunderbolt56:
Even people that don't want to lead or that have little clue can be tought or can pick up the reins in time of need and do an excellent job of it. I think good leaders can be made. However, I think GREAT leaders are a combination of both.

Personally, I don't think birthright makes anyone a good leader.


TB </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
So you don't believe that great combat leaders were born with some innate measures of aggression, focus, guts or courage, you feel that these things can be "taught"? I don't, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's arse. Just can't be done.

Da Worfster </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think it's more how you were raised. What values were instilled as you were growing up. A person may be born with leadership potential but how does a baby know what courage is? Or focus? Heck, let's just skip the first eighteen years of life and enlist 'em as soon as their born.

I'll tell ya what...I was a different person after boot camp...that's for sure. It can be taught...or, if you prefer, what's already there can be enhanced by experience and the prior experience of others.

What about great athletes? Are they born or made?

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">"War educates the senses, calls into action the will, perfects the physical constitution, brings men into such swift and close collision in critical moments that man measures man."

Ralph Waldo Emerson
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

S!

TgD Thunderbolt56
07-31-2007, 07:50 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Worf101:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by TgD Thunderbolt56:
Even people that don't want to lead or that have little clue can be tought or can pick up the reins in time of need and do an excellent job of it. I think good leaders can be made. However, I think GREAT leaders are a combination of both.

Personally, I don't think birthright makes anyone a good leader.


TB </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
So you don't believe that great combat leaders were born with some innate measures of aggression, focus, guts or courage, </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I didn't say that at all. But I would say that there are countless others with the same amounts of these traits that never have the opportunity to use it because they didn't go to West Point, Annapolis or any other avenue that would open those doors and TEACH them how to use their courage, guts and charisma.


<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Worf101:
you feel that these things can be "taught"? I don't, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's arse. Just can't be done. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

To a degree, yes. Some of what you're talking about is emotion and how to control it under times of duress. That can be taught without a doubt and can make someone with some basic leadership qualities into a good leader...by teaching them.

Someone on these boards has a sig quote that says something like "In the heat of battle, people don't unexpectedly rise to heroic levels, they fall back to the quality of their training"

If you want to paint the picture black or white I'd have to say you're wrong. There are too many intangibles that include many shades of gray.

But, I still say a person can have wonderful leadership qualities and be lost on how to use them to lead while someone with marginal leadership qualities can be taught to do it well.



TB

Rood-Zwart
07-31-2007, 07:51 AM
I think both. A born leader needs to learn how to lead, just like a seeing eye dog needs to learn how to interact with the blind person.

Ernst_Rohr
07-31-2007, 08:27 AM
A leader has the right disposition, skills, and demeanor to keep his or her head about them when the situation is pure chaos, and direct folks in the middle of everything.

I think its a combination of factors, while some folks my have been brought to be "leaders" the rest of them are folks that have found themselves thrust into the position and discovering they can function.

jimDG
07-31-2007, 10:35 AM
Both, but they have to be taught that they don't always have to resort to reading maps and directing fire etc.; anyone can do those things. Leaders are leaders because they do their own things, which may or may not include the things they were taught, depending on the circumstances.

McArthur and Japan is a good example, as he, basically, ruled Japan as his own feudal piece of land for a few years - he even had Japanese as his own personal guards (shows trust).
This, however, is unacceptable in the context of a democracy (even if it works), especially when it gets out of hand, as it did in Korea (still talking about McArthur).

So, leaders should also be taught how to serve, or, rather, to never forget that they are serving.

SeaFireLIV
07-31-2007, 11:42 AM
Many men can be made leaders or become leaders. There`s absolutely no reason why one must be born. I suppose if one is born then all to the good, but if every army waited for a `born` leader they`d be no one leading any army for a looong time.

This kind of ties in with the old fashioned and old-age notion that leaders could only come from the nobility or royal classes, again, being born into it. It has been proven many times that many of royal birth or noble leaders have been incompetent in the face of actual command where some leaders who were mere `peasants` or simply common man turned out to be the best of leaders IF allowed the opportunity to display it.

BrotherVoodoo
07-31-2007, 12:24 PM
I would suggest that leadership in some ways can be a natural talent kind of like a musician or an artist has some natural ability. However like artists or musicians some training can turn an average ability turn into something truly special.

stugumby
07-31-2007, 12:40 PM
it comes from within, training just reinforces whats already there, anyone can become a tank platoon leader on paper.. I used to be an instructor for the Armor officers basic course, all of our raw material had just been recently commissioned, (BIG MISTAKE IN THAT SYSTEM) and some were fine fellows but couldnt lead a pimp to collect in a new orleans cat house on payday. all had similar backgrounds, each commissioning source has its own criteria, bad part was you cant flunk basic if youre already commissioned!! Not like the nco acadamies where flunk equals end of a career etc. But back to the gist, some people can issue orders, some can manage stress and some just cant cope with either. Bottom line it comes from within, mr quarterback is the perfect example, gets the chicks etc, not because hes that much better than the rest, just is a natural for that position, 4 yrs later out of high school and a average dweeb at best.. comes and goes but always comes from within in my book.

Blutarski2004
07-31-2007, 12:43 PM
A leader is a person who inspires others to willingly follow. Call it what you like - charisma, gravitas, pheromones, deportment, aura, etc, etc.

Such individuals are born. Every schoolyard and pick-up game demonstrates this phenomenon. Children do not take turns as leader or captain or decision-maker. It is almost always the same person or clique of persons assuming those roles.

Education can unquestionably make a natural leader personality more efficient in a given role, but no amount of education or training can produce that natural command presence. At best it can perhaps provide an individual with a behavioral veneer of leadership, but the strength of the leadership in these cases is artificial - it derives from organizational rules and regulations rather than from innate presence.

An analog might be seen in the case of the artist. The untrained artist has natural talent which sets him apart from others. A properly trained artist is capable of works of great quality. But no amount of training or education will make an untalented person into an artist of any consequence.

Blutarski2004
07-31-2007, 12:45 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BrotherVoodoo:
I would suggest that leadership in some ways can be a natural talent kind of like a musician or an artist has some natural ability. However like artists or musicians some training can turn an average ability turn into something truly special. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>



..... I made the very same comparison, but you beat me to it!

Friendly_flyer
07-31-2007, 02:45 PM
The notion that someone is a born leader is too simplistic. First of all "being a leader" isn't one set of skills. Different situations require different leaders.

We all know how certain armies purged their ranks of everyone above captain within few months after getting involved in WWII, replacing them with new leaders from the lower ranks. It was very obvious that being a leader in wartime takes different skills from being a peacetime officer. Less well known is that the opposite thing happened after the war.

In Norway, wartime pilots where actively encouraged to leave the service. In peacetime the air-force wanted stable, down-to-earth pilots and squadron leaders, preferably family fathers. They could keep a level head and discipline necessary in a Cold War environment, unlike the "gung-ho" pilots who had fought and flown in the RAF against Luftwaffe.

In pre-war Germany, the Whermacht decided commissions based on two types of personality traits: Laziness and intelligence. Intelligent and hard working officers were to be kept away from frontline duties, as they where likely to overwork their troops, but would be valuable in the staff. Lazy but smart officers where deemed ideal frontline officers. Stupid and lazy officers where seen as ideal in depots and supply, while the stupid yet hard working officers where seen as a problem and kept as far away form power as Whermacht could.

So, a great leader in one position may be a catastrophe in another (Churchill being an example). In addition, disentangling nature from nurture is very hard, since they usually pull in the same direction (smart parents get smart children, bout due to good genes and good upbringing).

Naturally, certain personal traits will make being a leader come more natural to some, but are all traits something you are born with? Perhaps the "born leader" trait is something which will make someone learns leadership during childhood. Then, is the leader's ability nature or nurture? Clearly, it will be bout.

Airmail109
07-31-2007, 03:18 PM
Personalities are 90 percent decided by enviromental factors.

Go figure

avimimus
07-31-2007, 03:19 PM
Belief in a "born leaders" and uberman = a tendency toward some kind of fascist approach to politics.

Belief in made leaders recognizes the important skills and worldviews required for complicated tasks of management and leadership.

In some cases we don't know. Perhaps enlightened dictators are the work of God and don't follow under these rules. Who knows about Oleg...

Just my thoughts...

Bearcat99
07-31-2007, 04:19 PM
Guys... we are talking about leaders.. not demagogues .... Leaders of men. It is obvious to me that once you go beyond a certain scope more than just leadership comes into play. Things like money, power, the whole is it better to be loved or feared thing comes to mind.. I believe that Worf is referring to leadership within the limited confines of either combat or team sports... where a person.. solely on the power of their leadership abilities in time of crisis or battle... can be determined to be either a good leader or a bad leader.

IMO some of the traits that all truly great leaders have in common are:
Selflessness - The willingness to put their men above them selves.
Inventiveness - The ability to look at a situation and come to the correct conclusions based on the situation and the tools at hand.
A strong work ethic - From all that I have seen truly great leaders are the firs in and the last out... they will never ask their men to do something that they themselves wouldn't be willing to do and they convey that to their men throughout the course of the relationship.
Intelligence - I haven't heard of too many good stupid leaders.
Decisiveness - Good leaders dont waffle. They think a decision through and once committed to it they follow through.

Lastly.. the ability to instill confidence in others.. Every great leader that I have ever heard of was able to inspire their men to follow them to the h@ll & back.

Many of these things are personality traits... and some people just don't have it, no matter how much they are taught. Again and particularly because it is based on fact.. I cite Band of Brothers. No amount of training in the world would have made Capt. Sobel or Lt. **** into anything other than the sorry excuses for leaders that they were. The same can be said in just about every conflict. Some men are more suited to leading papers around a bureaucratic race track than men into battle. That is just the way it is.

MB_Avro_UK
07-31-2007, 04:56 PM
Hi all,

How do you define a 'leader'?

What is a 'manager'?

Some say that a manager enforces company policy. So, what does a leader do?

Does a leader enforce political policy or his own?

It is recognised that there are varied forms of leadership. Each has it's own place depending on the circumstances.

I was in the UK military and I remember a colleague being described in a report as 'a natural leader but in entirely the wrong direction'. He was as I remember a bit of a rebel and didn't conform.

Good thread but soooo complex http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

Best Regards,
MB_Avro

Low_Flyer_MkVb
07-31-2007, 05:06 PM
Pah! When you've led men on the cricket pitch, leading 'em in battle is easy.


But seriously - I think it's more nurture than nature. Why else do we have Sandhurst and West Point? Sure, Napoleon was in the right place at the right time, but had been through military college. Without straining my brain too much, the only great leader with little or no formal training I can think of is Cromwell - and as someone once wrote he never had his greatness truly tested by coming up against another great.

I'm sure someone will be along soon with a list of great commanders who had no schooling. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

Some interesting posts so far.

Blutarski2004
07-31-2007, 06:22 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
Some say that a manager enforces company policy. So, what does a leader do?

Does a leader enforce political policy or his own?
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>


..... A leader is the person who makes the policy of the body or organization he leads.

jimDG
07-31-2007, 07:54 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Low_Flyer_MkVb:
I'm sure someone will be along soon with a list of great commanders who had no schooling. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Shaka Zulu, Muhammad, Hitler, Stalin, Osama and countless other very unsuccessful popular uprising leaders whose names will mean nothing even if I list them. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/35.gif

OK, I guess the only people who would qualify as unschooled but successful are some pirates, like Francis Drake.

I was tempted to throw in Genghis Khan and Attila as well, but the Mongol/Hun societies are rider-warrior societies in their roots, so noone there qualifies as unschooled, since they are all schooled in warcraft from childhood.

On the other hand, the list of pathetic commanders who had plenty of schooling is much much longer.

Lurch1962
07-31-2007, 08:02 PM
A kind of grey area! Blutarski put it quite well in his first post. I'll struggle to put into words some of my nebulous thoughts on the matter. I'm assuming the question isn't concerned with differentiating the good from the bad.

Certainly, leaders can be made. But I feel there are innate qualities which distinguish a true leader.

Speaking in the broadest terms, who is deemed a leader is a reflection of the follower. It's an almost intangible thing, in some respects, because who one wishes to follow is based a lot on emotion. We are emotional, social creatures, which fact must never be overlooked. In order to inspire a genuine desire to follow, a leader MUST at some level engender in others a positive emotional connection.

Sure, in a sufficiently small group even the mediocre might become a leader. All it takes is competence and reasonably good common sense.

But in populations of thousands or more, who must rise to the top? The one who can touch the common man in the most direct way--in his heart. The most effective and time honored way is with words, but deeds count, too. But under all this, a true leader inspires a following with that characteristic which might best be called charisma.

Whether leadership is directed toward good or ill is another question...

--Lurch--

M_Gunz
07-31-2007, 08:55 PM
From genetics a person may have more or fewer brain cells, same for fat cells, may have better
reflexes, may have stronger bones or be taller (the number one listed genetic leader trait by
history though not a sure thing) or just the right kind of mental to push people around.

And then that first year or so of life, if the baby is undernourished or even before birth, if
the pre-natal care is poor any and all of that may be 'taken away'. If there aren't enough fat
cells per neuron (2 per in the brain) or those are depleted then the end result is hurt.
A kid raised on good clean food, water and air will be better than the same kid not.

We ain't none of us born knowing but of course Momma and Daddy are always sure we're special.

The first 4-5 years are the ones that shape a kid more than the next 15 and generally beyond.
And Thank God there is no formula or poor kids wouldn't stand a chance. That despite how many
'great families' like to talk of 'breeding' which IMO is just a narrow version of racism.
Funny how they turn out as many duds as 'common people' even with so many advantages.

If there was such a gene, it would not be that way after so many 1000's of years. Money,
position and power are not only not genes but they are not all-deciding except in books
written and published by 'the winners'.

I was in basic with one guy that kept raising his uncle the major to the drill sergeants for
the first two days, especially when they talked about selecting squad leaders and that stripe.
He was told to shut up about his uncle, he had the same chance as anyone else. Nobody but
him thought he was special and that talk killed any chance he might have had yet I do bet
that he became an officer and somewhere there is in writing how he worked his way up from
the ranks as a great leader. He was just a spoiled whiney-voiced brat in basic but his
family was old Army and nothing puts a mark on those people. Hell, he may have BECOME a
good leader in spite of all that if he reached the epiphany it would take to change ways!

There is a good deal between born and courses. And what courses a person may take if they
include getting out there and doing, becoming masterful at skills needed and dealing with
people that complement, that fill out what a person is and had done/seen before... those
courses as opposed to books and lectures that have value but can you teach people skills
that way or coordination, etc? Well if the candidate is lacking so much know-how then
books and lectures may be needed but my experience is that many who do have not learned
HOW to learn and won't get much out of books and lectures, they need direct hands-on.

It's way elusive, not all leaders are highly job skilled except at convincing others to
take orders. It's not that hard when you have others to take care of those things for you
and you actually listen to what they tell you. In fact, being able to delegate is one
leadership skill that is pretty rare in my experience and who is -born- with that?

In fact, now many leaders can do it all? Even the 'great ones' had their flaws that they
did or did not cover for.

I swear Worf, are there not people you could easily lead and others just no way?

I guess you could call it Fate, what happens, and I can't argue being born with that!
What in the Bible it says about pots and the potter, I won't argue with that either!

I still can't point at a baby and say 'this one will lead' no matter who the parents are,
only say the chances are maybe high that one will be put in such a position. And I HAVE
read of leaders who were 'made' from dud to alpha just BY one situation, the pieces come
together only in the moment and the nobody guy just suddenly stands tall -- but who can
say when he picked up what he had in him TO come together?

Just please, never count a man down forever as he stands at the moment. It happens all the
time and the world is a poorer place for it.

There's a saying that 'A good leader is FIRST a good follower.'. I've seen too many 'born
leaders' that did not believe that, following was 'beneath' them, the sorry sacks of.....

Korolov1986
07-31-2007, 09:08 PM
My take on it, it has a lot to do with how other people perceive you - going to personality. If you like somebody, get along with them well, and think they're swell people, you'd probably consider following them even if they were going into a brick wall. On the other hand, if you think somebody is a jerk, you don't want to be anywhere near them.

A leader needs people loyal/stupid enough to follow him/her before they can lead. Any abilities that 'makes' a leader go out the window until then.

sgilewicz
08-01-2007, 09:52 AM
My son graduated from USMC boot camp last summer (Parris island) while in the middle of his college education. My wife and I (both of us are graduate degreed chemists) pushed him to enter one of the Marine Corps officer programs upon completion of boot camp. He agreed but while at boot camp he watched the DI's very closely and realized that there is a great difference between wanting to lead and being able to lead.

After graduation he told us that he was not going to enter any officer programs until he had more Marine experience under his belt. One year later he is now a lance corporal and is training at Ft. Sill Oklahoma on 155mm artillery with orders about to be cut for a December deployment to Iraq.

This young man is intelligent and has had all of the important advantages growing up can offer (loving family, good education and a strong moral compass) yet he rejected my wife's and my desire for him to become an officer on the fast track. He did it because he sensed the divide that Worf and Bearcat are talking about. He felt he needed more training in the trenches (at the real risk of combat deployment).

I write this because I can see his development moving from unsure to confident over the last year. There may be something to innate leadership but there does seem to be a real need for leadership to be taught or drawn out, if you will. Just my $0.02.

K_Freddie
08-01-2007, 11:16 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by sgilewicz:
... yet he rejected my wife's and my desire for him to become an officer on the fast track... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think he did because he was not ready to 'lead' at that time. His upbringing was probably the deciding factor in making such a sensible decision. It's a fine line in trying to do what is best for a child and letting him make his own decisions, but I think they prefer a 'helicopter' parent than no parent at all.

I always remember the day my eldest 'rejected' me..
Being an retired veteran surfer, I eagerly ran down the beach to chat with him about his session, as he came out the water...

His words.. "Don't do that Dad, you're embarassing me"

Mannn I have never been 'hurt' like that before, so I walked back to the car. Got over it after a few months, as it made me realise that he's growing up, and needs his space. I still remind him and he apologises - I laugh and say it's OK to reject me http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif
http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

sgilewicz
08-01-2007, 11:27 AM
K_Freddie, maybe "reject" was a poor choice of wording because I certainly wasn't angry with him. In fact I understood his decision completely (my wife wasn't too happy though. She was/is thinking about his immediate exposure to deployment. She, to her credit, never said that to him, however).

You are quite right sir about the fine line. We want what's best for them but at some point it becomes "their" job to find it! Thanks for the kind reply http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

LEBillfish
08-01-2007, 02:23 PM
Didn't vote as I believ it is a little of both....Born with certain instincts and drives, then MOST of all "raised as a child" with certain qualities and a moral code, finally taught to focus these raw abilities to lead appropriately for the situation.

Can one be born a natural leader?....yes
Can one be raised to be a leader?....yes
Can one be taught to be a leader?....yes

Yet an exceptional leader clearly able to inspire others to do anything I believe takes all 3.

IMLTHO

Friendly_flyer
08-01-2007, 02:24 PM
What makes a "great leader" is often found in retrospect, which leaves me thinking it has more to do with circumstances than personality traits. It's all nice and dandy to use the winners to show examples of good leaders, but who wins in the long run is more a matter on historical factors than personality traits.

There are a lot of people who where seen as great leaders by their country or men, but failed to win the day. What about Chang Kai Check? Was he a great leader? Or what about Benito Mussolini or Herman Gφing? Heinrich Himmler was without doubt a highly successful leader of SS in pre-war Germany, yet I'm very certain non of us would list him as leader material. Most historians credit Otto Skorzeny as a great leader of men. Why is Skorzeny seen as a better leader than Himmler? Better looks?

horseback
08-01-2007, 04:05 PM
A "leader" is someone who can convince other people to follow them; I suspect that some are born, or have the innate abilities and personal magnetism that would cause others to follow, I suspect that some are blessed with a degree of intelligence and trained to an ethical standard (by their parents/guardians: studies indicate that a child's personality is 'set' by age 5 or 6, before schools or peers can usually get at & corrupt them) that allows them to be consistantly decisive in an (for lack of a better word) attractive way (and not necessarily an emotionally attractive way; I've known leaders who I personally disliked, but respected enough to follow into hell), and some have a minimal mixture of the first two and either from ambition or a sense of duty, have made a study of the traits of successful leaders and modelled themselves successfully.

I may be a natural leader in the field of run-on sentences!

There are people who just ARE leaders, there are people who CAN BECOME leaders, there are people who CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT EVER be leaders, there are followers, and there are people who just want to be left the hell alone, and will make fun of whoever is in charge.

Personally, I think that the parental role in forming a child's leadership personality/skills has been underrated in recent years, with the intent of minimizing the emergence of rational-ethical leaders from the unapproved 'ranks'.

Hence, the rise of the Managers, who mostly come from the ranks of the people who CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT EVER be leaders.

cheers

horseback

jimDG
08-01-2007, 05:35 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by horseback:
Hence, the rise of the Managers, who mostly come from the ranks of the people who CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT EVER be leaders.
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/agreepost.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/clap.gif

Someone once said that the people wanting to be politicians are the exact people who shouldn't be allowed to become such.
(forgot the actual quote and who it belongs to).

That's why lots of good leaders ended up in a leadership position by chance - they never aimed for it, which fulfills one of the requirements to be fit for it.

Lots of good leaders are military men, because military organizations cannot allow themselves BS. Companies and states organizations can be full of BS, as mentality, and no harm will come out of that.
Have a BS army, and you'll be dead - it just has to work out, as the stakes for failure are too high ( = death, as the enemy rolls over the BS army).
So, people with military backgrounds are less likely to be posers.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. A guy in public office with a fighter pilot background comes to mind http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif (and it's not John McCain)

han freak solo
08-01-2007, 08:00 PM
Leaders higher than "middle-management" are born leaders, IMO.

Some born leaders are just too arrogant for anyone to stand and don't make it as far as they could if they had the brains to temper their personality.

BTW, I'm not a leader or a follower. I'm a "getthehelloutofmywaycauseI'lldoitmyself".

Doolittle81
08-01-2007, 09:35 PM
In my opinion and based upon my experience, leaders are born and/or develop leadership traits in their earliest years of life. Watch kids on the playground and at school recess when they are just 6 or 7 or 10 years old. The leaders easily stand out. Of course, as has been noted in many posts, leaders can be of good or bad intentions....the schoolyard bully is a leader....just as is the Sixth Grade class president...or Captain of the elementary school Safety Patrol (do they still have those? I'm looking to the 1950's...)

Later on, say at the college or boot camp or Officer commissioning program levels, or NCO Academies, the best you can do is refine/focus those innate leadership traits in those that already have them. For the others, you can teach basic conceptsof leadershiip, you can teach and discuss the attributes and behaviors of "great" leaders of the past, but very few will suddenly 'discover' how to be a leader, themselves. They can become great managers, outstanding administrators, even senior successful executives/officials of organizations....But leaders they will not become through 'training'. IMHO

Oh. With regard to West Point, Sandhurst, USAF Academy, Annapolis, St. Cyr, etc.....those Military insitutions pre-select their "students", giving incredible attention in that process to proven evidence of demonstrated "leadership" characterisitics in High School years (and earlier) ...then devote four years to nurturing and refining those. Even under the extreme focussed intensity of such "training" programs, those who manage in spite of the screening/selection process to somehow enter such institutions in spite of having only limited demonstrated 'leadership' attributes or tendencies, do not graduate as "re-made", "new" men/women..."leaders". If they could not inspire and lead a group of 8 or 12 or 16 year old schoolmates, they will not be able to inspire or lead adults....they will merely manage and direct and administer,even though they very likely will do so extremely well.

All the above having been said, there surely have been examples of the rare shrinking violet, repressed introvert, who in the cauldron of combat or extreme danger rises to the challenge and "takes the lead".

Imho.

n00bd00d
08-02-2007, 08:00 AM
This thread is full of quite romanticized views of leadership. Quite a bit of confusion over concepts too. What are we discussing really? Charismatic people or the science of leadership, two vastly different things.

It surprises me that a bunch of people, who will go at length to support their claims with various weird, antiquated documents as soon as it comes to a/c, motors, guns or whatever, can deal with any other topic so unscientifically.

I'm not particularly good with motors or flight dynamics, but I do know psychology. You should look around on the internet for scientific [sic!] articles on leadership. You will have a hard time finding solid evidence for genetic/hereditary explanations to leadership traits. There are some results from twin studies pointing weakly in that direction but none that couldn't be questioned.

Speaking of leadership traits, just pinpointing what traits make a good leader turns out to be surprisingly hard. Some studies claim to have found statistically significant relationships between leadership (you'd have to define that too in each case) and certain traits. But it rarely gets more interesting than saying "effective leaders according to such and such criteria tend to score somewhat higher on average on this test measuring self-confidence or self-efficacy." What a revelation!

In fact, the best studies in terms of scientific quality tend to come to the same conclusion. Above all, leadership seems to be a question of context. It is rarely easy to predict with any degree of certainty who will emerge a leader out of a group of people. Who performs well as a leader is also very contextual. So-and-so might be a good leader in one context or situation but suck horribly at it in another. And then we have the conceptual confusion over good leadership and dominance, also two different things. Some people emerge leaders because the protocol said they were next in line. And then they proceed to become either good or horrible leaders, or something in between. Others might become leaders because they managed to dominate others. Research around domination is not overly conclusive either. Yet others may have been elected leaders, and then we get mixed up with theories on persuasion and more. But in either case leadership is a very tricky subject from a scientific point of view.

Read and learn. Or read and become bewildered. It's just that I always feel uneasy when people start talking "strong leaders". You are permitted to keep your Napoleon busts at home though.

Worf101
08-02-2007, 08:00 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by sgilewicz:
My son graduated from USMC boot camp last summer (Parris island) while in the middle of his college education. My wife and I (both of us are graduate degreed chemists) pushed him to enter one of the Marine Corps officer programs upon completion of boot camp. He agreed but while at boot camp he watched the DI's very closely and realized that there is a great difference between wanting to lead and being able to lead.

After graduation he told us that he was not going to enter any officer programs until he had more Marine experience under his belt. One year later he is now a lance corporal and is training at Ft. Sill Oklahoma on 155mm artillery with orders about to be cut for a December deployment to Iraq.

This young man is intelligent and has had all of the important advantages growing up can offer (loving family, good education and a strong moral compass) yet he rejected my wife's and my desire for him to become an officer on the fast track. He did it because he sensed the divide that Worf and Bearcat are talking about. He felt he needed more training in the trenches (at the real risk of combat deployment).

I write this because I can see his development moving from unsure to confident over the last year. There may be something to innate leadership but there does seem to be a real need for leadership to be taught or drawn out, if you will. Just my $0.02. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
What an interesting and striking post. Please keep us/me apprised of your son's progress and development. I pray for his continued development as a man and soldier and that he return whole, safe, sound and sane..

Da Worfster

sgilewicz
08-02-2007, 08:38 AM
Thanks Worf. I'll know more in a couple of weeks when he's back from Ft. Sill and will probably get his new orders. If you guys don't mind, I'll try to keep you abreast of his situation and observations when he is deployed. My wife and I are sorting through the "pride and worry" thing right now but realize we are at the point where it's out of our hands.

Friendly_flyer
08-02-2007, 10:15 AM
So far n00bd00d has posted the best post here. Before we discuss whether leadership is something your born with or acquire, we need to define what leadership actually is, or at least under what circumstances.

sgilewicz
08-02-2007, 10:55 AM
Friendly Flyer, you're right about defining the parameters before judging! The original intent of the thread IMO was about leadership under combat conditions. If we can stick with just this as a yardstick instead of applying it to the corporate, political, bureaucratic,... realms we might get somewhere. I recently read Hal Moore's "We Were Soldiers Once and Young" and what stood out to me was
1. his ability to maintain situational awareness of the battlefield even under extreme duress and
2. his ability to personally convey connection to all of his men by making rounds to talk, encourage and console when possible during battle.

I don't think I would have that "cool" when thrown into the meat grinder. That is a special quality that few people have. Sure people can do heroic deeds when situations arise but how many can plan and coordinate specific actions successfully under constant to themselves and their command?

Doolittle81
08-02-2007, 12:25 PM
I suggest, then, that we narrow the focus of the discussion to military leadership...even further focussed on WWII leaders.

Maybe working backwards, or empirically, will help.

What is leadership?

I think all will agree that the following are examples who can, without equivocation, be called leaders:

Patton
Rommel
Curtis LeMay
Sepp Dietrich
Doolittle
Adolph Galland
Douglas Bader
MacArthur
Claire Chennault

What are the common denominators of their 'leadership' What common or dissimilar traits did they have? What do we know of their early lives...did they show similar characteristics, personality traits before they entered their "training" to be "leaders"? or not?


Many say Eisenhower was a "leader"...Was he? ...or was he really just an adroit manager, exceptionally skilled at compromise and consensus-building and 'political' balancing? [MacArthur referred to Eisenhower as having been the best administrative "clerk" he's ever had! Eisenhower as a major had been General MacArthur's adminsitrative assistant in the Phillipines in the late 1930's....and never held a command position of any sort, in peacetime OR in wartime, before he was sent to Europe in 42/43 to command all allied forces.]

Similarly, Omar Bradley was the popular "soldiers' general"...Was he a 'leader' or merely a very efficient and low key administrator...a "manager" in other words?

Note that the training of MacArthur, Eisenhower, Bradley was the same: West Point. Note also that there were a number of US generals in WWII who were relieved of command for lack of success in their command positions (failed to lead???) in spite of their training at West Point. Note that Doolittle and Chennault attended civilian colleges and never recieved the intense/focussed "leadership training" of a Service Academy.

I have no definitive answers...this is just food for thought. I will say that management is decidely different than leadership, and the two should not be confused..

So...what is leadership...and how does one get "trained" to be a leader? Or...are the traits of leadership inculcated early in life, very early, by a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

Airmail109
08-02-2007, 02:39 PM
There are other types of leaders as well. For example Im a fairly quiet guy. Im not exactly an insanely outgoing type anyway. Ive never been a leader in groups unless the **** properly hits the fan. Then Im listened to. Most people lose their heads and I can remain totally carm. For example I was once attacked by a maniac with an Ice Pick, most were suprised that I wasnt scared. It got me out of that situation anyway.

There are leaders in certain situations, a politician might be a leader. But would he be a leader If he was being pinned down by machine gun fire?

LEBillfish
08-02-2007, 02:43 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Gandhi_studio_1931.jpg

Friendly_flyer
08-02-2007, 02:50 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Doolittle81:
I suggest, then, that we narrow the focus of the discussion to military leadership...even further focussed on WWII leaders. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think even that may be too broad a scope. I'm not convinced leading a squad or company is comparable to leading a an army group. I don't see the man who goes from foxhole to foxhole calming his mens nerves before going "over the top" at dawn having the necessary quality of a general. Generals like Rommel and Patton had to be able to coldly calculate casualty rates and supply as if they where equally important variables. Being a "great general" does not necessitate personal bravery, being a "great NCO" does.

And Ghandi was undoubly a great leader, even by millitary standard.

sgilewicz
08-02-2007, 04:24 PM
quote:

"I think even that may be too broad a scope. I'm not convinced leading a squad or company is comparable to leading a an army group. I don't see the man who goes from foxhole to foxhole calming his mens nerves before going "over the top" at dawn having the necessary quality of a general. Generals like Rommel and Patton had to be able to coldly calculate casualty rates and supply as if they where equally important variables. Being a "great general" does not necessitate personal bravery, being a "great NCO" does.

And Ghandi was undoubly a great leader, even by millitary standard."

Nice post and one I agree with whole heartedly FF! Thinking about your observations got me to thinking what do good leaders at whatever level/occupation have in common? I truly believe that the one trait, more than any other, is charisma. Someone earlier in this thread pointed this out but your post kind of connected the dots for me.

If I walk into a room filled with people I don't know, odds are no one will take notice. If I say something to some of the above people they may or may not make polite conversation. Most of us, however, have witnessed people who can walk into a room and immediately electrify the place. Whether its the way they carry themselves or the way they can engage others, there is a confidence they bring to interacting with strangers that overcomes shyness. Plenty of charismatic people have been cowards but I don't think many great leaders have not been charismatic.

Now if my hypothesis is true it would be an excellent argument for the "born with it/very early environment" people. Kind of disturbs me and I don't really know why but the logic seems to be there.

That's it for my philosophizing today! I've got to get home. Good night all!

Blutarski2004
08-02-2007, 05:25 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by LEBillfish:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Gandhi_studio_1931.jpg </div></BLOCKQUOTE>



Bravo!

Doolittle81
08-05-2007, 10:59 AM
Would like to continue this thread/discussion for another day or two...it was just getting interesting, and neither confrontational or argumentative, which is rare around these here parts.

Heliopause
08-05-2007, 11:34 AM
Depends on the situation: is there a war going on or are we flying rubber dogshiit out of Hong Kong? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif (excuse my French)

DuxCorvan
08-05-2007, 11:35 AM
Well, from my personal experience I must say this: I'm a natural born leader. I know it since the day I arrived to Earth from Mount Olympus, inside a meteorite. I think it is because:

1) I'm always right. Well, I once thought that I was wrong, and that's the only time I was wrong, because I was actually right.

2) The masses kneel before me, at the sight of my steel profile and the sound of my imposing voice. I bought North California from the natives with some mirrors and coloured glass. Then I gave it to the USA because I didn't want it anyway. I once spat on the face of Alexander the Great and he apologized, not being worthy enough.

3) My physical attributes are those of a demigod, and my virile features have become a fertility idol among many tribes around the world.

4) I know everything, only I don't share it, because you wouldn't understand. I even understand Raaaid's posts, and achieved free energy in a planet with no friction, no inertia and negative mass.

5) I don't play online because it's boring to win always. My natural skills are a cheat compared to your inferior abilities, and omniscience can be seen as an exploit, so I deny myself the obnoxious pleasure of defeating all of you single-handedly.

6) Everyone tries to emulate me, and do what I do. They can't, obviously, but they try. My clothings are imitated all around for a globe. For example, I started using pants, and everybody uses pants now. Except Gandhi, but he's not cool, except for that elegant and streamlined bald head.

7) I've done all the hot chicks in Hollywood, all the best Penthouse pets and all the Playboy centerfolds since 1990. Hugh Pfeffner hates me, but he adores and admires me at the same time.

8) I can make Steve Seagal's nose bleed, and dodge Chuck Norris's round-kicks. In fact, Spiderman movies don't use CGI nor FX. It's me, doing the stunts. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It's Dux Corvan!

9) I can cure cancer, end hunger, and bring peace and happiness to all the world, but I don't want. Unless you all prostrate before me.

10) I rock. I am cool, and when I say cool, I mean totally sweet. I'm Cantabrian, which is the same than saying I rule.

ImMoreBetter
08-05-2007, 12:04 PM
Some people are born with leadership skills, but it's not impossible to "teach" yourself how to think in the same way.

You don't study a book to teach yourself how to lead. You can learn to &lt;i&gt;think&lt;/i&gt; like a leader.

Mindsets.

han freak solo
08-05-2007, 12:08 PM
DuxCorvan FTW.

Thread over. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

Friendly_flyer
08-05-2007, 02:19 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by sgilewicz:
... thinking what do good leaders at whatever level/occupation have in common? I truly believe that the one trait, more than any other, is charisma. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Great charisma might get you quite a bit of the way, but you need skill and a few other traits to be "great". I'm fairly charismatic (in a nerdy sort of way), at least charismatic enough that I'm invited to talk about various topics from zoology on national TV on a regular basis (This is not as great an achievement as it seems, Norway isn't that big). Yet despite being a likeable chap and a great toastmaster I know I'm not "great war leader" material, at least not great NCO-material. It's not skill, I did well as a patrol leader in boy-scouts and as squad leader in the army. What I lack is the ability to detach myself from the situation under pressure.


Warning, story of personal experience:

When I went to University, I was one of the initiators of a Roman re-enactment group. I was originally the "field commander", knowing a bit about ancient warfare and being an ex-military squad-leader. We decided to test our newly formed unit in "combat" by hiking through the Norwegian woods in winter, well below freezing point, and spending the night under canvas while having other re-enactors and live role-players attacking us at various times. This was naturally mock combat with rubber swords, but it's amazing how intense these experiences can be when you are thirsty, hungry, cold and dead tired from marching many hours with heavy equipment. Ad to that lack of sleep, and you get a fairly realistic combat experience (at least that's what the Army says).

Anyway, our groups being under pressure, the volunteer army less than enthusiastic at 11 in the night still whiteout supper, we weren't doing great. To make a long story short, I lost my "cool", got personal and yelled at my troops. No-one would say anything afterwards, but I knew I had blown it. After the march, I quietly left the reins to the second in command and assumed a role in the line. I still have the role of Centurion or Optio when we have shows for the public, but when we have participated in similar exercises, I remain a common "miles".

I can take orders, follow them no matter the situation and I'm good at getting people to follow me. But I lack the essential "cool under pressure"-factor. I guess I'm a not too bad 2nd in command.

/ personal experience

Now, does that "cool under pressure" come with training, or is it something you are born with? Is the "cool under pressure" of a general being well fed and sitting in a comfy chair comparable to that of a sergeant with an empty stomach and muddy boots in the dead of night?