What do you need to become a leader? By Isabel del Rio

What do you need to become a leader? By Isabel del Rio
Isabel del Rio

If you take whatever essay about the subject, you will find a similar structure and conclusions about the indispensable characteristics for a good leader.

World leaders masks

World leaders masks

Then, it’s a topic so well analyzed that it seems to be a closed study…. Closed? This is a good question in a time of cultural and economic crisis (we can add ethics crisis too). We need creative leaders to search for new solutions, and maybe with new strategies. Usually, books start saying that traditional theories about leadership emphasize the idea of a “super-man”. Thus, the leader would be the strongest, cleverest, most friendly and handsome person of the group, town or country. However, from Julius Caesar (epileptic) to Gandhi (not handsome at all), worldwide leaders haven’t demonstrated the “super-man” theory.

In the happy 60’s, books started to focus on the idea of a generous leader (Marvin Harris). Then, the leader would be the person who takes more care about the group and solves more problems.  Well, as a generality, this idea can be accepted easily, but it changes the study and we begin to ask about the necessities of the group, complicated topic because from Abraham Maslow, we know that a developed society is not looking for food or materialistic things, which people have already got and therefore, don’t motivate them anymore.

There are four kind of groups (in fact, a country is a big group):

1.-Groups composed by unmotivated and unqualified people. They need an authoritarian leader. If we think of countries, we are thinking of undeveloped countries, which have suffered shocks and still aren’t recovered of them. Thus, they need a strong leader accustomed to action. Of course, this is not the same as a dictator (no country needs a dictator). Furthermore, the only necessity of a dictator to become a “leader” has usually been the use of an army.

2.- In the other extreme, they would be groups or countries with people highly motivated and qualified. They need leaders able to delegate to others, who need self-satisfaction and personal progress. Australia, Canada or The United States would be examples of this kind of countries.

3.- Between these extremes, we find mixed groups. For instance, qualified but unmotivated people (some European countries affected by the economic crisis). They need a leader able to share decisions and to boost participation in a constant feedback.

4.- The last group would be integrated by motivated but unqualified people. They need a teacher-leader of friendly character to maintain the motivation.

In conclusion, we need to analyze our group to start to think of our future leader and don’t confuse our wishes with our realities.

Today, is the second debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in New York. Who will be the winner? Who kind of leader would US need? And the world?

Think of leadership theories.

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View Comments (1)
  • really a timely article, for sure…in the case of our presidential candidates, i think there are enough blatant differences that there should be no confusion over who falls into which group – interesting the comment on ghandi and caesar – good to keep things in perspective…

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