1 QuickView Leadership Series Heping you navigate the eadership andscape Are Leaders Born or Made? Perspectives from the Executive Suite By: Wiiam Gentry, Ph.D., Jennifer J. Dea, Ph.D., Sarah Stawiski, Ph.D., and Marian Ruderman, Ph.D. Issued March 2012
2 Introduction Do you think a eader shoud be a hero or a negotiator? Out in front eading peope or coordinating the work of the group? Destined to be a eader or deveoped to be a eader? The way we think about eadership affects how we perceive the eaders around us. For instance, if we expect a eader to be a hero, we are ikey to see someone who takes charge to save the day as a good eader and someone who asks everyone s opinions and ets the group make decisions as weak. Aternativey, if we think a eader shoud be coaborative and focused on making sure decisions arise from the group, we woud view someone who is directive as aggressive or a tyrant. In the same way, our beiefs about how peope become eaders affect how we evauate peope s eadership potentia. Beieving peope are born eaders is ikey to resut in a focus more on seection (identify the right peope) rather than on deveopment (deveop the peope you get). On the other hand, beieving that peope are made into eaders by their experiences woud be more ikey to resut in a greater focus on making sure peope had the right opportunities to deveop into eaders. Consider United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scaia s description of how he picked aw cerks, during a discussion at the American University Washington Coege of Law on Apri 24, 2009: I m going to be picking from the aw schoos that basicay are the hardest to get into. They admit the best and the brightest, and they may not teach very we, but you can t make a sow s ear out of a sik purse. 1 He appears to beieve that deveopment is ess important than innate taent, expecting a few to rise to the top not even bothering with those who on the surface appear to not have the right stuff. Understanding whether peope in your organization think eaders are born or made is critica because these attitudes pay out in recruiting, promotion and deveopment decisions. Wi your organization spend its money on seecting peope beieved to be born eaders, or on deveoping peope into becoming eaders? Wi executives emphasize seection of taent and ony invest in those who they beieve have eadership potentia? Or wi they see vaue in deveoping taent among a broad group of peope? Top eaders set the tone for the deveopment of others within their organization, so understanding their view can inform taent identification and deveopment strategies Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
3 About the Study 361 peope who took the Center for Creative Leadership s (CCL) Word Leadership Survey (WLS) answered they were at the Top eve of their organization (Chief Executives, Operating Officers, Presidents) in 2008 (133), 2009 (77) 2010 (107) and 2011 (44, through June 30) The respondents were natives of 53 different countries, 64.5% US (233 peope), next argest was Austraia (15 peope) South Africa (11), India (10), and UK (10). The executives were 62.9% mae, 37.1% femae Average age was years od (SD = 9.18, range 24 74) Most (90.6%) were from the private sector Average hours in the work-week was hours; average hours worked in ast reguar workday was The respondents were asked to indicate whether eaders were born or made by moving a siding bar on a continuum. Those who thought eaders are more born (sider anded between 1 and 39), more made (61 100) or about equa (40 60) were very simiar in terms of gender and age: More born 69 peope, 60.9% mae, years od More made 189 peope, 64.6% mae, years od Equay born and made 103 peope, 61.2% mae, years od Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
4 Are Leaders Born or Made? To shed ight on this question, we asked 361 C-eve executives (those at the top of organizations, for exampe, CEOs, CFOs, or Presidents) whether they thought eaders were born or made 2. Their views were decidedy mixed (See Exhibit 1): 19.1% beieve that eaders are more born (Born), 52.4% beieve they are more made (Made), and 28.5% beieve they are about equay born and made. 3 This distribution of responses suggests that executives don t reay agree on the answer; neither do eadership schoars the seection vs. deveopment debate is strong. Arguments for both sides continue to emerge. To understand how the born vs. made beiefs may pay out in organizations, we focused on the two groups on the ends of the continuum: the Borns and the Mades. We compared their responses with regard to a variety of eadership topics. Exhibit 1 Are Leaders Born or Made? The Importance of Deveopment We asked the C-eve executives what they think are the most important eements that create a eader: traits, experiences, or training? Mades beieve that experiences are more important in creating a eader than are either traits or training (experiences=46%, training = 34%; traits = 20%; see Exhibit 2). In contrast, Borns beieve that traits (41%) and Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
5 experiences (38%) are about equay important, and training (21%) is about haf as important as either traits or experiences. This shows that Mades think that what peope earn over time is more important to their deveopment than do Borns. At the same time, Borns (not surprisingy) pace substantiay more importance on traits than do Mades. If Mades and Borns have different beiefs about what is most important in creating a eader, does that affect their beiefs about deveopment? Are Borns ess supportive of training than Mades because Borns don t think that training is particuary important? Our resuts indicate that there is itte difference in how Borns or Mades at the tops of organizations fee about the avaiabiity of earning opportunities within their organizations. Specificay, 82% of Borns and 89% of Mades beieve that their organizations vaue empoyee earning and deveopment opportunities. In addition, 84% of Borns and 82% of Mades beieve that earning and deveopmenta resources are avaiabe to them in their organizations. Apparenty, even when top executives beieve that eaders are more born than they are made, they aso beieve that earning from experiences is important for deveoping eaders. The difference is focus. Borns are ikey to think that organizations shoud be very seective in who gets deveopmenta opportunities, offering them ony to those the eaders beieve are most ikey to benefit from them. Exhibit 2 Which is most important in creating a eader: Traits; Experiences, or Training? Mades and Borns agree that experience is important, but Borns beieve that traits are sighty more important than are experiences, whie Mades beieve that experiences are substantiay more important than are traits Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
6 What Good Leadership Looks Like to Borns and Mades If Mades and Borns beieve peope become eaders in different ways, do they aso have different beiefs about what good eadership ooks ike or means? As part of this research, we asked peope to te us what they think good eadership ooks ike by seecting an image of eadership from 17 provided options, and choosing up to five adjectives to describe the image they chose. Four images stood out from a the images as the most popuar chosen. We found that the image of eadership most frequenty chosen by both Borns and Mades was the same: the Music Conductor someone who stands in the front and directs and coordinates the work of the orchestra. The conductor isn t paying each of The Conductor the instruments; instead he or she is doing what is needed to coordinate a of the musicians to pay their different instruments together to make music rather than cacophony. Borns and Mades chose substantiay the same adjectives such as uses taents of different members effectivey and sets direction to describe the Music Conductor image. The three other frequenty seected images were: A Fock of Birds in Formation Hands Shaking Warrior on Horseback Athough Borns and Mades showed significant overap in their choice of images, they tended to describe these three images differenty. Borns were prone to pick descriptors that are eader-focused, such as the eader eading by exampe or eading the way. Mades tended to choose descriptors that are infuence- or otherfocused, such as the eader inspires, empowers, acts as a mentor, shows integrity, and serves others. This suggests that Borns are ikey to be more supportive of individua actions and more eader- or authority-focused, whie Mades wi be more supportive of infuencing and otherfocused actions Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
7 Is the eader-focus of Borns and the reationa-focus of Mades consistent with what they think makes a good eader? Yes. Borns and Mades differed in their beiefs about whether eaders are more successfu when they are authority oriented (e.g., foow protoco, hierarchica, and status-oriented) 4. In keeping with their eaderfocus, Borns were more ikey than Mades to beieve that formaity in eaders makes them more effective (41% vs. 24%; see Exhibit 3), and were more ikey to beieve that eaders need to be rue-abiding to be successfu (59% vs. 41%; see Exhibit 4). Whie Borns and Mades both beieve that pay 5 and reationships with others 6 shoud be important to eaders, Mades more than Borns think that making the word a better pace, being of service to society, and contributing to humanity (atruism) shoud be important to eaders 7. This resut is consistent with Mades being more other-focused than are Borns. Does this difference in focus extend to what they think eaders shoud do? Not reay. We asked the C-eve executives to respond to questions about how eaders shoud be and behave, and found that Borns and Mades both beieve that eaders shoud be: Participative (e.g., coaborative, incusive, and invoving others) 8. Team Oriented (e.g., encouraging coaboration and team unity) 9. Charismatic (e.g., inspirationa, visionary, and wanting to strive for exceence) 10. Humane Oriented (e.g., compassionate, generous, and sympathetic) 11. We aso found that: Borns and Mades are ambivaent about whether they think eaders shoud behave Autonomousy (e.g., be independent, sef-reiant, sef-sufficient, and individuaistic) 12. Borns and Mades both beieve that eaders shoud not engage in Face Saving behaviors (e.g., being evasive and indirect) 13. Understanding Preferences Understanding how top-eve eaders beieve peope become eaders can hep you to be more effective in how you work with those eaders and how you ead within the organization. If top managers think that eaders are more born than they are made, those executives may embrace a dominant and authority-focused approach to eadership. Asking for many opinions, defecting authority, or seeking consensus may be interpreted as weak or ineffective eadership. On the other hand, if you are working in an organization where C-eve executives beieve that eaders are more made than they are born, those executives may beieve that a more coaborative approach is most successfu. Being dominant and focused on rues and forma eadership may be ess effective with them. In both cases, being a person who is Participative, Team Oriented, Charismatic, and Humane Oriented is ikey to be viewed positivey and contribute to your success as a eader Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
8 Exhibit 3 How much does being forma* contribute to eadership? Exhibit 4 How much does being rue-abiding* contribute to eadership? % Sighty or Greaty Contributes to Leadership % Sighty or Greaty Contributes to Leadership *Foowing protoco and traditiona ways of behaving according to status and position *Acts in strict accordance with estabished practices, guideines, and conventions Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
9 Improving the Leadership Pipeine Regardess of whether you have a born or made perspective on eadership, you can continue to improve your organization s eadership bench strength by providing peope with access to varied deveopmenta experiences. When you make sure that peope have adequate access to deveopmenta experiences, coaching, mentoring, training, and other eadership experiences, they have the opportunity to earn and become better eaders. Whether these experiences draw out and boost natura abiity or create new eadership skis may be debated but either way the organization benefits. Organizations can aso benefit in other ways when they provide more genera support for deveopment. Access to deveopment has been shown to increase empoyees job satisfaction, organizationa commitment, and performance. 14 If you are in a roe that incudes persuading others to invest in training or other deveopmenta opportunities, it heps to know whether those peope are Borns or Mades, or somewhere in the midde. This insight aows you to frame the case for investing money and time in training and deveopment. For instance, if your CEO beieves eaders are born rather than made, you might argue that eary identification programs in combination with on-the-job stretch assignments woud be vauabe in deveoping everyone as much as possibe. Look for exampes and evidence that strategic seection couped with effective deveopment is a more effective approach to improving your eadership benchstrength than is seection aone. On the other hand, if your CEO beieves that eaders are made rather than born, a broad-based eadership deveopment strategy may be we received. You want to be sure that opportunities for eadership deveopment are more incusive. By providing a arger portion of the organization access to deveopment opportunities, a wider poo of peope wi have the chance to work hard, buid skis, gain experience and exposure, and improve Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
10 Concusion As ong as there are eaders, peope are going to wonder whether they were born to be eaders or made into eaders. A groups overwhemingy agree that peope become eaders in arge part as a resut of experiences that hep them earn how to be a eader. Even Justice Scaia, who said he woud not hire a cerk who isn t from a top schoo, acknowedged that some peope can deveop to be as good as or better than their peers who appear to have more innate taent. One of my former cerks whom I am the most proud of now sits on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeas in Cincinnati, the justice said, referring to Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton. Justice Scaia expained that Mr. Sutton had been hired by Justice Lewis F. Powe Jr. After Powe s retirement, Sutton heped out in Justice Scaia s chambers. I woudn t have hired Jeff Sutton. For God s sake, he went to Ohio State! Justice Scaia said. And he s one of the very best aw cerks I ever had Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
11 About the Authors Wiiam A. Gentry, Ph.D. Wiiam A. Gentry, Ph.D., is currenty a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), and coordinator of internships and postdocs at CCL. His research interests are in mutisource (360) research, survey deveopment and anaysis, eadership and eadership deveopment across cutures, mentoring, manageria deraiment, mutieve measurement, and in the area of organizationa poitics and poitica ski in the workpace. He aso studies nonverba behavior and its appication to effective eadership and communication, particuary in poitica debates. Jennifer J. Dea, Ph.D. Jennifer Dea is a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in San Diego, Caifornia. Her work focuses on goba eadership and generationa differences. She is the manager of CCL s Word Leadership Survey and the Emerging Leaders research project. In 2002 Jennifer co-authored Success for the New Goba Manager, and has pubished artices on generationa issues, executive seection, cutura adaptabiity, goba management, and women in management. Her second book, Retiring the Generation Gap, was pubished in An internationay recognized expert on generationa differences, she has spoken on the topic on six continents (North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Austraia), and she ooks forward to speaking to Antarctic penguins about their generationa issues in the near future. She hods a B.A. from Haverford Coege, and a Ph.D. in Industria/Organizationa psychoogy from The Ohio State University. Sarah Stawiski, Ph.D. Sarah is a Research Associate at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in Greensboro, NC. Sarah s work focuses on evauating the impact of eadership deveopment programs, and understanding individua and organizationa factors that infuence workpace attitudes and behaviors. Other interests incude sma group processes, ethica decision making and corporate socia responsibiity. Before coming to CCL, Sarah worked for Press Ganey Associates, a heathcare quaity improvement firm. She hods a B.A. in Psychoogy from the University of Caifornia, San Diego, and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Appied Socia Psychoogy from Loyoa University Chicago. Marian Ruderman, Ph.D. Marian Ruderman is a Senior Feow and Director, Americas and EMEA (Europe, Midde East, and Africa) Research at the Center for Creative Leadership. Her work is focused on eadership deveopment, diversity, and work-ife integration. A noted expert on women s eadership, Marian has coauthored over 50 artices and book chapters on eadership. Her books incude Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women (co-authored with Patricia Ohott), Diversity in Work Teams: Research Paradigms for a Changing Workpace (co-edited with Susan Jackson), and The 3rd edition of the Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Deveopment (coedited with Een Van Vesor and Cynthia McCauey). Marian hods a Ph.D. in Organizationa Psychoogy from the University of Michigan Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
12 Endnotes We asked Are Leaders Born or Made and participants saw the word Born on one end of a continuum, and Made on the other end. Participants then moved a siding bar to the point that approximated their answer. 3 The groups are very simiar in terms of gender and age, showing that there are no obvious demographic differences between the groups from the start. 4 Born mean = 2.91, SD =.76; Made mean = 2.57, SD =.78, t (160) = 2.34, p < Born mean = 2.96, SD =.75; Made mean = 2.78, SD =.87, no significant difference between the two groups. 6 Born mean = 3.39, SD =.87; Made mean = 3.54, SD =.84, no significant difference between the two groups. 7 Born mean = 3.37, SD = 1.02; Made mean = 3.69, SD =.87, t (256) = 2.49, p < Born mean = 4.60, SD =.41; Made mean = 4.65, SD =.36, no significant difference between the two groups. 9 Born mean = 4.59, SD =.44; Made mean = 4.72, SD =.32, Mades sighty higher than Borns, t (160) = 2.00, p < Born mean = 4.79, SD =.25; Made mean = 4.80, SD =.28, no significant difference between the two groups. 11 Born mean = 4.24, SD =.58; Made mean = 4.41, SD =.45, no significant difference between the two groups. 12 Born mean = 2.76, SD =.78; Made mean = 2.79, SD =.82, no significant difference between the two groups. 13 Born mean = 2.36, SD =.71; Made mean = 2.41, SD =.65, no significant difference between the two groups. 14 Rhoades, L., & Eisenberger, R. (2002). Perceived organizationa support: A review of the iterature. Journa of Appied Psychoogy, 87, Center For Creative Leadership. A Rights Reserved.
13 About the Center for Creative Leadership The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL ) is a top-ranked, goba provider of executive education that acceerates strategy and business resuts by unocking the eadership potentia of individuas and organizations. Founded in 1970 as a nonprofit educationa institution focused excusivey on eadership education and research, CCL heps cients wordwide cutivate creative eadership the capacity to achieve more than imagined by thinking and acting beyond boundaries through an array of programs, products and other services. Ranked among the word s Top 10 providers of executive education by Boomberg BusinessWeek and the Financia Times, CCL is headquartered in Greensboro, NC, USA with campuses in Coorado Springs, CO; San Diego, CA; Brusses; Moscow; Singapore; India and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Its work is supported by 500 facuty members and staff. CCL Americas One Leadership Pace PO Box Greensboro, NC p: f: e-mai: CCL Europe, Midde East, Africa rue Neerved B-1200 Brusses, Begium p: +32 (0) f: +32 (0) e-mai: CCL Asia-Pacific 89 Science Park Drive Singapore Science Park I The Rutherford Lobby B, #03-07/08 Singapore p: f: e-mai: Other campus ocations: Coorado 850 Leader Way, Coorado Springs, Coorado, 80905, USA, p: Caifornia 8910 University Center Lane, Tenth Foor, San Diego, Caifornia, , USA, p: Africa Unity University, Sub-City: Boe, Kebee: 11, House No: 632, PO Box 6722, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, p: India Regus Augusta Point, Leve 4 Augusta Point, Gof Course Road, Gurgaon, Haryana , India, p: Russia 8th Marta Street 10, Buiding 14, Moscow, Russia , p: The Center for Creative Leadership is committed to a poicy of equaity of opportunity for the admission of a students regardess of race, coor, creed, sex, age, nationa origin, sexua orientation, or disabiity, and does not discriminate on any such basis with respect to its activities, programs or poicies. Center for Creative Leadership, CCL, and its ogo are registered trademarks owned by the Center for Creative Leadership Center for Creative Leadership. A rights reserved.
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