Monthly Archives: May 2013

Are leaders born, or can leaders be made?

We recently found on LinkedIn this discussion about leadership. Someone was wondering either leaders are born or made:

It seems that there are two theories about this: the Great Man theory, which states that some people are predisposed to be leaders and the Zeitgeist Theory of Leadership, which states that leaders are a “product of the social circumstances at the time. Thus, it was not the characteristics of the individual that resulted in a leadership, but societal factors of the time that are out of the individuals’ control.”

What do you think? Is it a mix of both? Do you know any research that shows that leaders are created, born, or both?

Douglas Fairbanks at third Liberty Loan rally HD-SN-99-02174

By Paul Thompson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Social media can amplify your voice but how come it doesn’t happen very often?

You probably heard hundreds of times already about how social media can help you make your voice heard. One of the examples mentioned to prove this is the “United breaks guitar” video, which had 150,000 views in one day and 10 million in less than 6 months.

During a recent chat, a CMO and Chief Customer Officer said it again: “In the social era, customers voices and choices are scaled and amplified”

Which is true, but it doesn’t happen very often. I know that there are thousands of examples, but considering that there are billions of Facebook posts and tweets every day, the number of the stories actually being amplified is insignificant.

Which made me think: how does this happen? Is it random? Do you need to have man followers, which will share your posts to their followers and so on? Should you post sensitive or controversial topics, which are more likely to make others share? Does it help to be aggressive and share the same post repeatedly on several social media platforms?

A LOOK AT MANAGEMENT STYLES: A discussion on the use of different management styles to maximize an employee’s self-motivation and overall positive contribution to the firm

Research in differing business management styles overwhelmingly supports the theory that employee performance is positively influenced by managers who seek to ‘empower’ their employees by delegating authority to them and encouraging them to take personal responsibility for tasks.   Links between this management style and perceived employee performance are seen to affect employees’ willingness to communicate, collaborate and build trust among fellow employees and management.

Intense global competition and sophisticated customer demands are requiring speed and flexibility, seamlessness and transparency of response to the marketplace, and, to be effective in this environment, employees should be challenged and encouraged to use all their talents and capabilities and take personal responsibility for tasks both within and beyond their immediate sphere of responsibility (Coleman, 1996).

There are obviously many different ways to empower employees to achieve this personal sense of involvement and responsibility. The choice of which approach to employ is largely personal and dependant upon the personalities of all parties involved and the particular business circumstances of the company in question.

A discussion with Colin Hope Murray of Third Nature llc highlighted an approach which, I thought, was a perfect example of a management style that sought to achieve optimal performance from their employees in a non-threatening and casual environment.

Colin gave me an example of a technique by which one particular company (he had at one point been affiliated with) approached their service interactions with client companies. “Their presentations were always clear, concise, and above all else, simple”, Murray insisted. “What is the benefit of complicating the discussion”, Murray asks. “The point is to clearly convey the information in as simple a fashion as possible”. And their so-called angle at workshops/presentations was to present themselves not as the experts in each and every aspect of their client’s business, but rather as facilitators that invited their audience’s input by admitting that they didn’t have all the answers.

If your goal (as a service/product provider) is to convey the benefits of your product or service, then an approach that engages your client by reconfirming their area of expertise while talking to them about the benefits of your product, seems to be a winning formula. Integral to this approach is the idea of questioning – inviting it, encouraging it, and applauding it at every occasion. If your ethos is to keep it simple and not assume you know it all, encouraging questions and asking questions seems to be the logical way forward.

Another idea that Colin brought forward (and which I found very intriguing) was his perspective that so-called non-technical people (or those not in the industry) are better served by a discussion that is less technical and more metaphorical. Language that is metaphorical, Murray argues, speaks to the non-insider at a more abstract and consequently, more understandable level. This is a form of critical thinking that exposes a more layered approach to your subject; an approach that isn’t rigid and accommodates thought that is not beholden to or defined by industry rules and hence, restrictions.