How many of us have asked ourselves this question?
Often as I read about what people call a leader, I would start to think that I do not have any of those traits. Lately, I have watched what appears to be a debate in which everyone is expounding upon their idea of which personality traits a leader should possess. More and more these discussions take on what I see as a growing divide; a divide between some key elements of personality. What disappoints me is that these elements of personality would appear to be things that people may not have control over within themselves.
The Personality Divide
This divide seems to be from one of two camps. I would describe Camp One as having the firm belief that Leadership is all about motivating people by setting and triggering their emotions. This camp would lead everyone to believe that verbally influencing groups of people to work happily together is the sole valuable trait of a leader. That taking the podium each morning to motivate your troops to work is the trait that each exceptional immutable leader has; and should a person not possess this capability, leadership positions may not be within reach.
The second camp holds that great leadership have a few other components and that the continued daily skills as a motivational orator should be a secondary focus at best. Among this group, technical attributes of running an organization, meeting the biological needs of people involved, and a long term vision take a precedent over continued motivational oration. This group would often take the stance that taking the stage daily to motivate troops by setting emotions is a fallacy that shows a lack of internal stability or a weakness they might equate to “all talk and no action”.
Both camps value traits which favor a particular personality type. If we looked at the elements of personality which each favors they fall in line with a set of traits that we could define with a standard personality type test such as Myers-Briggs. In terms of the more social “camp one”, many of them are extremely active communicators in all aspects of their lives. The other camp would often fall on the entire opposite side from these extreme communicators on any standardized personality test. Each side of this personality antagonism would naturally have value for the traits in others which they themselves exhibit.
Many of the loudest opinions I hear from writers, bloggers, and business speakers are of the first camp, which only goes to reason. Since the people of the second camp have less value for continued motivational oration they are less often out front in public; they are not talking as much. You will find them all on the same business message boards and forums, but their engagement is different. They are silently reading and absorbing opinions of both camps for their own self-improvement.
If this fits you; and you are reading this now, you are most likely making your own opinion separated from anything reflected here, incorporating what you read to your life knowledge.
Most likely your thoughts will not appear in the comments at all. Instead your knowledge will be applied to your life used to quietly improve yourself and your organization.
So as you may have guessed by now, I have found myself asking the question which you see in the title of this article. I ponder often, if we naturally favor traits which show less emphasis on communication and focus more on those which enable other aspects of business success, can we be great leaders? Does the nature of our internet age which makes the opinions of anyone readily available to everyone, mean that the people who talk the most will have the most impact? Do the opinions we see voiced the most become the most valid due to how overwhelming percentages of these impact our psyche?
Do Leaders Need to be From One Camp or the Other?
The greatest leaders would have need for a cross of the both of these types of traits in their own personalities. Yes the ability to communicate passion and to inspire is extremely valuable in leading. But unguided excitement passed along to masses does not in itself create a successful organization. Thus inspirational communication is not the only trait a leader need possess. Do not be convinced that only other people have the traits which are of value to successful leadership. In fact so many people who only value communication lack follow through and become a pun, known for their lack of action.
Do not be convinced that you are not the leadership type if you don’t feel the need to constantly express mission statements to motivate people using emotional triggers. We are all different in our strengths and skill. Exceptional leaders of all personality types exist, but the ones we hear from the most are the ones which value communication above all other traits.
In recent years the polarization of these two schools of thought has become extreme. With the visibility of the percentages of contribution on message boards we mostly see the “communicator types” voicing opinion. However, 100% of communicator personality types actively talking compared to only 5% of the other personality types does not mean that only the opinions of high communicators are valid. It just means that they are the ones who are talking the most.
Listen to more on this topic on CWC-45 Can Introverts be leaders
Christopher Gorog, is the Author of the book “Inner Logic -Engineering Your Life”. His unique approach to empowering people to be the best version of themselves, thus enabling them to be great leaders, is offered as a curriculum program that can be adopted by universities today.
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