Purni Susanto, School of Education, Flinders University
We all have heard statements such as, “He is born to be a leader” or “She is a natural leader”.
The trait perspective of leader suggests that certain individuals have special innate or inborn characteristics or qualities that make them a leader (Northouse, 2010). Some of the qualities were even set physical appearance (e.g. height) as the quality of leaders (Northouse, 2010). It was believed that people were born with great personality, and that only these great people can possess it.
People think that leadership is something that born and given by the God. To the most extreme, they believe that leaders are the God’s incarnation and therefore they behave more like God. Leaders have been specifically selected by the nature and sent to the world to rule on behalf of the Him. As selected figures, leaders have extraordinary characteristics and behaviour which distinguish them from the average people. So, leaders have outstanding personal qualities which according to Daft (2008, p.8) are hard to see but are very powerful. “These include things like enthusiasm, integrity, courage and humility.” This trait approach suggests that leadership is only for special, usually inborn, talent people (Northouse, 2010).
However, some others contend that leadership skills can be learned and developed. Based on this opinion, everyone has a chance to be a leader as long as he or she is persistent, hardworking and self-determinant.
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Contrary to the opinion of many people, leaders are not born, leaders are made, and they are made by effort and hard work” (as cited in Lussier & Achua, 2010, p. 9).
This article will examine the importance of context as well as individual characteristics on leadership skills at school context. It argues that leadership skills are shaped as the result of the combination of personal capacities and the enhancement of situation. First, this essay will analyse the importance of personal characteristics in shaping the leadership personality. The importance of situation in creating leaders will be explored afterwards. Next, the contribution of both personal characteristics and cultural context (situation) will be discussed.