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Final Paper:


Professors: Dr. Marc Farmer

Daren Tran
UID: 111982905

August 26, 2011

I. Leader was not born, but made

Today we know that people can learn to be leaders. Whether it happens through
education, observation, or hands-on experience, leadership is primarily a learned ability.
Nowadays, the science and technology have been developed; people have more chances
to learn becoming leaders. We can learn from books, from the internet, from our
shadowed leader or even draw experiences from ourselves.
According to the Evolution of leadership theory written by David A. Van Seters and
Richard H.G. Field, leadership is one of the most complex and multifaceted phenomena
to which organizational and psychological research has been applied. The term of
leadership was mentioned from the early 1300s; however, until the 20th century, there
has been intensive research on this subject, addressing leadership from a variety of
perspectives. The theory of leadership has been developed from the personality traits to
transformative perspective, or in other words, now the leaders have to learn how to stand
on the shoulder of his organization, how to comprehend the adaptive problems in order to
make lucid decisions.
Ronald Heifetz, the author of a very famous textbook Leadership without easy answers
presented a new theory of leadership aimed at clarifying two important distinctions:
between technical and "adaptive" problems, and between leadership and authority. He
also attempts to redefine leadership as an activity rather than a position of influence or a
set of personal characteristics. He indicated that, We need to abandon the idea that
leaders are born and not made". This belief fosters both self-delusion and irresponsibility
in those who see themselves as "born leaders", and it can lead to inaction and dangerous
forms of dependency in those who do not see themselves as leaders.
My shadowed leader, Mr. Truong Tran, considered that leadership is the process that the
leader uses his charisma, mind, knowledge and talent to make influences on his
organization in order to conduct a certain target. He was born in a rural family, overcame
challenges to get Bachelor of economy. For him, leader is made by hard efforts, not
naturally generated. As a leader, he sets up strategic visions, goals to meet the demands of
difficulties. For him, a leader should learn some leadership skills including ability to
collect and address information, ability to harmonize the distress situation of his
organization and public speaking skill to mobilize his subordinates. In fact, those skills
could be totally learned by people who want to be a leader.
I myself agree that everyone can be a leader. I can realize leadership through the fathers
image in family, the president in a high school, or even a driver on a bus. Besides,
leadership is the ability to influence subordinates to implement the targets of

organization. Not by chance, but due to the hard efforts, those people would be
proclaimed leaders without any available traits. Never had I got those traits to be a leader
before, but I was still appointed several leadership positions by efforts, including a
monitor, a sub-leader or a vice chairperson of English Speaking Club. It one more times
demonstrates that the leader was not born, but made. In this writing, I will focus on
analyzing the idea of leader was not born, but made and forming an effective leader for
II. Own experiences contributed to form theory of a learning leader
Honestly, what I thought is that only some authority figures were born to be leaders.
However, when I grew up, what I observed, what I learned from books and what I drew
experiences from reality have opened up my perspective of leadership.
From my observations, to be a leader, one has to experience the process of building. In
family, the father has to understand the family condition, know the way to share sadness
and housework with his wife and the way to encourage his children whenever they feel
upset. In a soccer team, the captain should learn to gain the technical and tactics skills to
direct his teammates in a match. In a high school, the president has a certain quality to be
elected by his officers. In order to maintain his school, he has to understand the economic
situation, the quality of teachers and students, and the way to manage his staff. In general,
all of these figures who are elected to be leaders have to be carefully considered by his
subordinates. Therefore, those positions are not easy to gain but a building process.
From reading books, especially, the book Evolution of leadership theory showed an
obvious process about the development of leadership. From the Personality Era (about
1300s), Great man theory said that person was born with the capacity to be a leader,
then the Trait theory stated the people possess certain qualities or traits that make them
better leaders. At the end of this era, the researchers revealed to prove that no single trait
or personality resulted in a good leader, researchers just confessed there are people who
possess the traits and personalities, but they cannot make them good leaders. In the next
eras, the evolution of leadership theory has the tendency to emphasize on the way
forming effective leaders. Over the development of nine eras, the ninth Era became the
overall view of the previous eras. Studies indicated that effective leaders are not depend
on the personal capacity, otherwise effective leaders in new period have to attempt to
execute the new qualities to perform. They have to be willing take risks and highly adapt
to new challenges1.

according to The evolution of leadership theory, page 13

Furthermore, the effective leaders must be willing to delegate authority and place
emphasis on innovation. The new leaders must exemplify the values, goals and culture of
the organization and be highly aware of the environmental factors affecting it. The new
leader must adopt a new perspective on power. Whereas the old view of power dealt with
dominating subordinates, the new strategy should be to build subordinate skills and
confidence. Leaders must lead by empowering others, and place increasing emphasis on
statesman-ship. With the development of leadership over each era, we have more points
to believe that leaders were not born; Leader must be built based on their hard efforts and
the supports of their subordinates.
Ronald Heifetz wrote a very famous textbook Leadership without Easy Answers which
showed us about the overview of leadership, distinguished between leadership with
technical and adaptive problems, leading with or without authority. The title itself said its
difficulties of being a leader. In the book, he assumed that the idea of Leader was born,
not made is very dangerous2. It fosters both self-delusion and irresponsibility. For those
who consider themselves "born leaders," free of an orienting philosophy and strategy of
leadership, their grandiosity is a set-up for a rude awakening and for blindly doing
damage. Conversely, those who consider themselves "not leaders" escape responsibility
for taking action, or for learning how to take action, when they see the need. In the face
of critical problems, they say, "I'm not a leader, what can I do? Therefore, the author
raised an issue that leadership nowadays is that taking action, more than influence.
Whenever there is a crisis of leadership, one who can generate useful outcomes to meet
the expectations of his followers could be leader.
From my own experiences, I do agree with the idea leader was not born, but made. By
my level of education, I was appointed to several positions such as a monitor, a secretary,
a vice-chairperson. Whatever position I gained, I learned a great deal of experiences
about how to exercise my authority, how to operate a group of members and how to
maintain its activities. For the alternatives of each activity, I had to find out the way to
meet the expectations of my subordinates as well as my supporters. For instance, once
there was a problem with publishing magazine at my English Club. My younger
subordinate was too shy to persuade the librarian correct the mistakes. As a vicechairperson, I identified the competitive situation among officers in the library so that I
quickly persuaded the librarian in a quiet way to recopy the magazine for us. I could see
the happiness and admiration on the younger subordinates eyes when he received the
magazines. As a result, our magazines were published in due course. I do not believe that
a leader with personal traits could address the problems in such situations like that.
Otherwise, it should be originated from learning not only through textbooks but also
through others in our society.

Leadership without Easy Answers, p 20

In general, from what I have observed and what I have read from books, a leader is not
born naturally, it needs a process of learning and building. We can draw a conclusion that
there are three common reasons formed a leader. First, everyone was born with a
common trait: potential to be a leader. However, the leader must pay to achieve the
worthwhile. In order to be a leader, one have to build a good relationship, keep the
influences on people surrounding and adapt to the alternatives of environment. Secondly,
if someone were born to be a leader, he might be very immobile. He always depends on
his personal traits, not attempt to overcome challenges. As a result, his position could not
be maintained and of course, he would soon be eliminated. Finally, nine Eras of
leadership theory demonstrated a rule undeniable that becoming a leader is not because of
his personality, but his influences and actions adapted to the alternatives of environment.
III. Learning leadership from Experiences of Others
I strongly believe that there is no model leader, who is born to be a leader, leaders must
learn and draw experiences from their activities to adapt every small challenge.
Therefore, in order to be an effective leader, I plan to study the experiences from others,
especially from my shadowed leader.
Learning from my shadowed leader
On June 18, 2011, I have an opportunity to interview Mr. Truong, the chairperson of
QuangTrung Ward Administrative Committee who has long experiences about leadership.
Being asked about his views on leadership, he asserted that Leadership is a complex
concept that is defined as the ability to influence, motivate and enable others to contribute
toward the effectiveness and success of the organization of which they are members. He
also considered no one was born to be a leader, but a potential leader. If one attempts to
be a leader, develops leadership skills and has some necessary factors, he will be able to
be a leader.
First, he shared with me a leader has to build four necessary factors, which he called
CMKT formula. A leader builds Charisma to attract his officers and to be respected
staff but by his colleagues. A leader builds strong Mind to be enthusiastic and
responsible in his business. A leader collects Knowledge to analyze national defense,
social and economic issues, and oversees the whole general business of his agency.
Finally, Talent lets leader study, research and improves his administrative skills.
Secondly, a leader should improve leadership skills including knowledgeable in current
research, resolving disputes and public speaking, he said. To get information, he should
know how to use technology to update information and understand the situation of his

organization. He believes that if a leader apprehended and announced this important

event to his staff, his agents would respect him as a leader who had a wide knowledge in
politics. For skill of resolving disputes, a leader understands his citizens about attitudes,
behaviors and skills; he can create influences on his agency by harmonizing the conflicts.
Public speaking, according to him, is a very important skill. Leaders always have to stand
before the public to give speeches. Therefore, if he is skilled in this field, he will gain the
respect from his agents. He also supplemented his skills in public speaking by learning
from famous speeches on the internet and applying his own creativity.
Last but not least, he shared the way he managed his staff and some experiences on
leadership. At first, he said there should be a regulation for the whole officers to obey.
Once, an officer broke the rules must be punished and others should get a reward equal to
desert. Moreover, he shared three views of leadership, which he drew experiences when
he served as a leader. A leader has to hold a work environment in which each member
works together responsibly. A leader has to build a strategic vision for the officers to
follow. A leader should understand the power of community to operate the whole officers.
Behind the job, the chairperson reminds me that although a leader is very busy with his
job, he should spend time for his family. He emotionally told me that behind a successful
man are the footsteps of his woman.
Leadership is a difficult field, although everyone is a potential leader, a person without
learning leadership skills he cannot be an effective leader. He said that no university
trained him about the way to address the adaptive problems, but from drawing his own
experiences. Take a case of the biggest challenge that my shadowed leader had faced as
an example. His challenge was that accepting or not an offer of his land officer to make
up land license in order to discount the land tax. The point is that his wife had showed her
agreement without his approval to the offer. He reminded me about his working style of
leading with all his heart and morality. At first, he had to face the pressure between
refusing his wife for the benefit and violating his work principles. In the end, he chose the
way to refuse his wife from the benefits. That was an example of an adaptive challenge
because the story ended with punishment for the land officer. In this case, if my
shadowed leader approved the suggestion of the land officer, it would lead him to violate
the rule, and of course, no one in his organization respected him anymore.
Learning from others
A leader has to learn not only from books in university, but also from his friends, his
teachers in society. That is the way to be a leader not because of his personality traits
(which is born to be a leader). For the time studying and collecting materials, I have
drawn some general ideas about issues regard to leadership, as follows:

-Education and degree on leadership: today mentioning to leadership, government

organization required a leader a high education and bachelor degree. Some studies
suppose that it is not important to have a degree; they just grade the leader through the
effectiveness of assignment. Others suppose that if a leader does not have a degree, he
could not lead his organization. In fact, we tend to respect effectiveness than degree. Take
Bill Gates as an example, he is a very famous leader of Microsoft Corporation, earning
tremendous benefits every year without any degree. After nearly 30 years, he came back
Harvard University to take his bachelor degree. He shared that reality is the biggest
university lead him to success. By the way, leading is a process of learning. Someone is
successful for his education at university, others from society. More importantly, no one
was born to be a leader.
-Advantages of leading without authority: In fact, most of us have been very strange with
the concept leading with or without authority. Usually, we refer to leader with default
point of view that he or she is working for government organization. However, leading in
non-government organizations, sometimes, is more comfortable than the other one.
First, the absence of authority enables one to deviate from the norms of authoritative
decision-making. Instead of providing answers that soothe, one can more readily raise
questions that disturb. One has more latitude for creative deviance. Secondly, leading
without authority permits leaders to pay attention to a single issue. One does not have to
contend so fully with meeting the multiple expectations of multiple constituencies and
providing the holding environment for everybody. Third, operating with little or no
authority places one closer to the detailed experiences of some of the stakeholders in the
situation. One may lose the larger perspective but gain the fine grain of people's hopes,
pains, values, habits, and history3.
- Addressing conflicts: One question was raised that whether the leader stopped the
distress immediately or not. Studies showed that the leader should not interrupt the
distress at that time because it would make the conflicts last long. One suggestion was
pointed out that he has to look for the root of the conflicts in each situation. The root of
each conflict may be in the behaviors, attitudes or skills of the subordinates. In this case,
the leader should slow down to access the reality exactly to adapt to the challenge.
-Being honesty and a good listener: It is no doubt that there is no perfect leader. A leader
should build honest characteristic to his subordinates. Sometimes, leaders have to learn to
recognize the weaknesses in a situation. If he were honest to himself and to his
subordinates, some expertise under him would find the way to support him. Besides, he
has to know the way to encourage his subordinates to face the reality and truly listen to
them to understand what the real problems are. For instance, a weak student tried to hide

Leadership without Easy Answers, page 188

his weakness in listening skill. In this case, as a leader of that class, the monitor should
arouse the honesty of that student and truly listen to his expectation to find out the good
way helping him.
In fact, the leadership is a science with a broad category, so that we cannot cover all its
fields. However, we can learn from textbook and take the reality to perfect our
knowledge about leadership little by little.


Team Leadership from Simulation

On the class of leadership, we have a chance to take part in a challenge of simulation to

climb the Mount Everest. Our class was divided to 6 teams including leaders, physicians,
environmentalists, marathoners, photographers and observers. We have 2 hours and 16
minutes to finish six rounds. However, just in half an hour one team reach the peak, while
others were rescued or had to come back the base camp. Through the challenge, we draw
some experiences about leadership skills as follows:
-Communication skill: we are actually lack of communication skill. We have a chat
system, but no team used it effectively. The information among each team was not
exchanged as it could be. Therefore, the leader team cannot access the exact point to
move up to the next camp. All of the process was conducted separately by each team. The
leader team has no chance to motivate, as well as consider whether the climbing group
should go on or stop for rest. That is the reason make the climbing impossible to occur in
a way as hoped. In short, communication skill of teamwork leading shows its importance.
-Preparation: each team has not understood its own mission when climbing the
mountain. The mission of each team was listed in the team profile; however, no team read
it to understand what they should do in different situation. The leader cannot set the goal
for each team during the climbing.
-Work environment among the team members: the role of each member in each team was
not assigned reasonably. We sit together but cannot bring into play the strengths of each
member. Besides, we spend much time reading the mission during climbing so that we
cannot focus on the climbing mission.
One more time, I can say no one was born a leader; leadership must be built by hard
efforts. Although we failed in the climbing mission, cannot reach the peak of the Mount
Everest, but we have to learn from our failure. In whatever situation, no matter what it is
a clear or not path; we have to spend time preparing and improvising with adaptive
challenge. That is a good way leads to a success.



According to me, an effective leader should build some characteristics, not just wait to be
a leader. I myself form some characteristics, which I assume it is suitable with me to be a
leader in the near future, as follows:
Communication-- Leaders express themselves effectively. Certainly, this ability includes
good oral and written communication skills but goes far beyond that. It is a different kind
of communication that says you have a presence, an air of confidence, and outward
display of knowledge, charisma, all enthusiasm that clearly demonstrate that you are a
real leader. It is a different kind of communication, often referred to as the body language
was silent communication. It has to do with deportment, how one carries one self. It
means that you know who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how to
use them to their full advantage. You also know what you want and why you want it and
how to get it. You set goals and achieve those goals by communicating to others. You
obtained the support of and cooperation of others by making sure they are aware of your
Good decision-making- as a decision-maker you are able to gather facts, organize
information and apply good judgment in your choice of action. Your willingness to make
a choice after considering all possible alternatives is essential. Depending upon the
complexity of the decision to be made, you may use decision-making models.
Taking Risks- effective leaders often take responsible risks and are willing to try
everything that may bring desired results. The willingness to take risks tends to set them
apart from the crowd. Being a risk taker, you do not fear failure; you view it as a
temporary setback and feel that failure today does not rule out success tomorrow. Some
US companies are deliberately making risk taking a part of their corporate culture. Risktakers tend to be achievement oriented, Gold directed, and self-confident. The
willingness to try new ideas often reaps great rewards for the individual and the
Motivation- to be an effective leader, you must be able to influence others to produce
good results. In the climate of the 21st century workplace, motivation of employees will
lean away from the autocratic methods of the past towards a new style of inspiring and
empowering people. John P. Kotter4 says that leadership is the process of moving people
and some direction mostly non-coercive means.

Author of The Leadership Factor

Delegation- means assigning tasks to subordinates and in following up to ensure that they
are completed properly and on time. As an effective leader, you would delegate tasks to
others to develop their skills and build a stronger team.
Through Strengthsfinder software, I took part in a survey and found out five strengths for
myself to form an effective leader, including harmony, analytical, context, responsibility
and consistency. Based on the outcome and my experience, I draw a conclusion to what I
have to improve to be a leader, as follows:
- Harmony: Armed with this information, I can treat people, groups, programs, or budgets
equally. Driven by my talents, you tend to be more practical than creative. You usually
think through problems or situations step by step. You identify the facts to make the
unknown known. You fill in missing information. You clarify ideas, proposals, or rules.
Using your intelligence or common sense, you diplomatically show people what is true
and what is false. Generally you are the unifying force between individuals who are
upset, mad, irritated, or in direct conflict with one another. It is very likely that you
sometimes seek out and listen to the opinions of others before you express your own
views. Instinctively, you yearn to avoid conflicts and disagreements. This explains why
you study and examine plans before you leap into action. Your need to do things properly
and correctly indicates your cautious nature. The clarity you bring to projects and tasks
makes you and/or others feel informed and safe. Because you check so many things
beforehand, the number of misunderstandings and miscommunications between people is
likely to decrease dramatically. Chances are good that you are viewed as a practical
thinker. You frequently seek out specialists who have the best information on a particular
topic. You trust their answers and insights are correct.

- Consistency
Chances are good that you are quite content when you have performed to the best of your
ability. You probably waste little, if any, time wishing you had put more time or effort
into a task. You trust yourself to evaluate the quality and the quantity of your work. By
nature, you attempt to deal evenhandedly with all individuals. Possibly, you aim to be
consistent over time in how you apply certain rules, regulations, or policies. You might be
careful not to play favorites. Perhaps you guard against giving one person advantages or
opportunities that are denied to everyone else. Driven by your talents, you sometimes are

sensitive to the fluctuating moods of certain individuals. This might be why you strive to
show no one favoritism. You might want each person to have the same opportunities,
access to information, or resources. Perhaps dealing with people impartially is one of
your core values. Because of your strengths, you may establish standard operating
procedures for performing particular kinds of tasks that occur on a regular basis. Rather
than inventing a new way to do things every single time, perhaps you favor pinpointing a
series of steps that enables people to handle the chore more efficiently. Investigating how
something works, then streamlining its function might be your forte that is, your
strong point. Once you have laid out a series of steps and a timeline, you might be eager
to see your new and improved system implemented across the board that is, used
equally by everyone. Instinctively, you sometimes exhibit particular patterns of behavior
over and over. Perhaps you appreciate certain individuals because they help you follow
your daily regimen. To some degree, these people contribute to your productivity or
- Analytical
Its very likely that you may ponder options rather than react without thinking through
things. Sometimes you weigh the ramifications, consequences, outcomes, or effects.
Sometimes you aim to understand the basic whys and hows of a situation, problem,
or opportunity. Individuals might trust you to be cautious. They might expect you to raise
important issues that require further consideration. Driven by your talents, you
consistently weigh the pros and cons before you make a decision. As a result, you avoid
rushing headlong into action without giving adequate forethought to the consequences
and benefits of what you plan to do or say. Your need to perform ethically, accurately, and
properly forces you to consider all aspects of a project, idea, or activity before you do
anything. Chances are good that you periodically investigate the hows and whys of a
given situation. You might find relationships between the final result and the events
preceding it. Perhaps these links enable you to understand how things came into being.
You may draw logical conclusions that can broaden your knowledge base. Instinctively,
you commonly are sought out for advice by individuals who appreciate your methodical
thinking style. Your approach often prevents people from being distracted by their own or
someone elses emotions. You probably help them concentrate on the facts more than on


their feelings. By nature, you may mull over ideas or plans before making important
choices in life. Perhaps you appreciate people who grant you ample time to arrive at your
own conclusions.
- Responsibility
Its very likely that you may strive to do tasks correctly the first time. It makes no sense
to you to quickly do an assignment just so you can announce, I finished first. Quality
probably is one of your top priorities. Chances are good that you occasionally choose to
take your time so you can do things right. Perhaps you are annoyed by people who rush
through their work or attack it in fits and starts that is, bursts of activity followed by
periods of inactivity. You may have concluded that these behaviors lead to mistakes and
produce shoddy outcomes. This partially explains why you choose to work with
individuals who make steady progress toward their goals. Because of your strengths, you
might shoulder your obligations and duties with relative ease. You might be motivated to
behave in ways that cause individuals to say you are dependable. Instinctively, you may
be attracted to individuals whose honesty and integrity are above reproach. Perhaps you
seek to penalize people who betray trust by taking things without permission. Driven by
your talents, you may want people to regard you as trustworthy, dependable, or reliable.
Perhaps this yearning motivates you to do whatever you said you would do.
Driven by your talents, you are quite intrigued by historys significant events and people.
Information about global conflicts fascinates you.

(could be 2 pages)