Effective Managers Born or Made

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Effective Managers Are Leaders Born or Made?

Research Title: Effective Managers. “It is often believed that effective managers and problem solvers are born rather than made and have a kind of magical power to understand and transform the situations they encounter. If we take a closer look at the processes used, however, we find that this kind of mystique and power is often based on an ability to develop deep appreciation of situations being addressed. Skilled leaders and managers develop the ability of reading situations with various scenarios in mind and of forging actions that seem appropriate to the understandings thus obtained” (Morgan, 2006).

The major task of the leader is to bring their followers from where they are to where they have not been. Acting like a manager and problem solver is an enormous job. The good and worst manager is remembered by the people throughout the history. From many years people are debating whether the effective managers are born or made. Some researchers believe that the effective managers are born with the necessary personality traits that make them successful (Bernard, 1926). On the other side most of the researchers has a firm belief that the effective managers are made. (Bernard, 1926; Blake et al 1964, Drath et al, 1994; Fiedler, 1967; and House et al, 1974) Let us assume that effective managers are the person born with the abilities to inspire and influence others. We can take a simple example on this statement. Sometimes we see a little girl influencing her brother and parents with their inherit abilities to do the things she wants to do.

If we take effective manager as a person who is courageous and willing to speak for the betterment of the people around him than we can say that the effective managers and leaders are born. In our surrounding we can see people who are introvert and are always in followers by nature but sometimes at a particular situation about which he was passionate will prove himself a good leader or effective manager. So by this we can assume that one can become effective manager by continues training and experiences. Saal et al (1988) stated that leadership is not necessarily in born, some skills could be taught to employees to make them an effective leader.

 This issue is still inconclusive although many researchers have found that the effective managers are made not born. In previous years many theories has been given to reach at a specific point. Some of the most known theories on this issue are: Great man theory, Trait theory, and behavioral theories.

Great Man Theory

According to this theory the leaders are different from other human beings. They do not need to develop intellectual brain to lead, but they have the right set of inherited capabilities which is not equally present in all the human beings. The basic assumption of this theory is that effective mangers are born not made and they contain some inherited traits that make them successful. These great people arise with the need.

A lot of research in 19th century was based on this theory. Most of the researchers have developed a link between the Great Man theories and the work of Thomas Carlyle who was a historian. He revealed that the leaders are the person who has naturally gifted capabilities and can capture the imaginations of the masses in a better way.

In earlier times it was considered that the qualities of effective manager is associated with man and this theory is named as a great man theory but in later year when so many great woman emerged as a effective manager that named the theory Great person theory.

According to the great person theory some person born with the necessary qualities that distinguish them with other persons. These inborn traits of a person make him responsible for the position of power and authority. This theory claimed that an effective manager within born attributes can achieve the goals for their followers by facing all the obstacles in his way. This theory implies that those who are at the positions of authority and power are just because of the gifted attributes they have. Moreover this theory also argues that these gifted traits of the effective manager remain stable over the period and in different groups.

Trait Theorists

Trait theory is basically all about the characteristics of the effective manager. This theory relates to the physiological characteristics including appearance, height and weight, demographics i.e. age, income and education, personality, self-confidence, intelligence and social characteristics with management effectiveness. Successful managers have some characteristics and traits that make the manager different from the unsuccessful manager. Researchers in 20th century have identified the set of the traits that are responsible to make an effective manager. These traits are achievement drive, motivation, honesty, self-confidence cognitive ability, knowledge about the practical things, creativity charisma and flexibility. An effective manager with good judgment, strong analytical skills can better solve the problems of any situations.

This theory is a naturally pleasant theory that tells us about the elements that make the effective manager and the leader. Trait theory of leadership has a great implication in all types of organizations and all positions. By utilization of information given in the theory people can evaluate their position and determine how they can make their positions strong.

Stogdill (1974) claimed that the people who are effective managers have right combination of attributes including achievement-orientation, ambitious and determination.

The trait approach gives rise to the issue that the effective manager is born or made or whether it is an art and science. According to the trait theory sometimes we can consider effective manager and leader an art but still there is a need of some skills to be successful. Even if there are some in born characteristics that make the person an effective manager still some kind of development and encouragement is also need to make him a successful leader.

Behavioral Theories

Behavior theory is based on the assumption that the leaders are made rather than born. Effective managers are basically the learnable behavior. Behavioral theories not actually based on the inborn traits and rather this theory focuses on the actions of the managers and leaders. This theory stated that it is easy to learn than to adopt the short-lived traits. Behavioral theory is contrary to the trait theory. Behavioral theory assumes that the effective manger and problem solver capabilities can be learned but trait theory assumes that these capabilities are inherited. This theory has opened the flood gates to the leadership development.

Leaders are born

The idea that leaders are born rather made is given by the two well-known theories great man theory and the trait theory. Robins et al (2006) stated that every person personality is comprised of unique psychological characteristics. This uniqueness make person different from the others in the sense of their reactions towards the certain things and interaction with the people. This can be clearly observed in the person born with the leader characteristics-the certain make the leaders different from the non-leader. The great man theory argues that the great man and heroes are those who born with the abilities of chrism, intelligence and wisdom which they utilized in such a way that make them successful.

Example for the clarification of the Great Man Theory

If you will see an eagle running on the ground you will immediately find that an eagle is not good in running. This is because it is not naturally balanced and usually compensates it by sticking their wings out. The eagle is not appropriate for running, even if someone give him training. The training to improve the eagle running will not bring the improvement.

Leaders are made

According to the behavioral theories leaders are not born. Leaders can be developed by proper training and observations. Behavioral theories depend upon the actions of the manager not on the psychological or physiological characteristics. Cawthon (1996) revealed that the people born with equal abilities and equal traits.

Knowledge and skills person learn directly contribute in the process of leadership, while the other personal characteristics make the leader unique. According to the process leadership theory people can chose to become the effective manager by learning leadership skills. Werren Bennis is a well know researcher of leadership. He believes that every person can become a leader through years of learning and experience.

Dr Carol supports this argument by saying that people can develop leadership skills by their dedications towards work and hard working. Moreover he said that intelligence and brain is the starting point of the leadership development. Powel said that the effective leaders are made not born. Effective leaders learn from the trial and error and from their experiences. They learn from their failure and use this learning in future for solving the problem.

Effective Managers
Effective Managers

What make an effective leader?

An effective leader does not need to be holding some specific attributes. Harry Truman the most effective executive in US do not have even one ounce of charisma. When Truman becomes the president of the US he knew that what he wanted to do. He found that after World War 2 he should focus more on foreign affairs. He started his work by taking tutorials on foreign policy. As a result he becomes the most effective president in the US foreign affairs. Similarly while working in some well-known business firms I found CEO’s who were not the stereo typical leaders. These types of CEO’s are all over the world. They are varying in attitudes, personalities, strength and weaknesses. They ranged from extrovert to introvert from easy going to controlling and from generous to economical in nature. This shows that it’s the inherited attributes that make the person leader but they follow some practices that make them an effecter manager.

Drucker (2004) stated that the Great managers can be charismatic or tedious, kind or miserly, creative thinker or numbers oriented. He stated that effective executives follow eight practices that make them the effective manager. These practices include what need to be done? What will be a write decision for the enterprise? They developed a detailed action plan. They took responsibility of making decisions and communicating to the followers. Their main focus is on the prevailing opportunities rather than problems. They arrange productive meetings and they thought as we rather than I.

Importance of emotional intelligence in leadership development

In our practical life we usually go through such stories that a person who was highly skilled and intelligent promoted to the leadership position and get failed and another person with limited skills and intelligence promoted to the same leadership position remain success full. Such anecdotes make our belief strong on the perception that the leaders are born. The personal styles of the leaders also very and in different situation different types of leaders usually emerge. Studies found that the most effective leader is the one with high degree of emotional intelligence. This argument doesn’t meant that intelligence and technical skills are useless in the leader development. They do matters but as a threshold capabilities. These are the basics requirement of the executive position. Goleman (1998) in his research claimed that without emotional intelligence a person cannot become a leader. He pointed out that a person with extensive trainings, analytical mind and endless supply of smart ideas cannot be a good leader unless he has high level of emotional intelligence.

Skills required for effective manager

Much research has been conducted in previous years to see the relationship between the individual trait and the effective manager. The most of the studies revealed that the individual trait alone does not guarantee a success flu and effective manager, Individual needs to learn certain skills according to the prevailing situations to become and effective leader. Kirkpatrick et al (1999) in their study on theLeaders: Do traits matter” revealed that the person traits is not the only thing that contribute in the success of the manager. They revealed that besides personal traits they need motivation, cognitive skills and the knowledge of the business. The result of the study is also consistent with the behavioral theory that the skills of the manger matters rather than in born traits. Stogdill also revealed that the any individual cannot become the leader by the virtue of the some traits he possesses. Stogdill research shows that personal or in born trait is universally associated with the effective manager, it the skills that person adopt in certain situations make him effective manger. Some of the skills that individual should learn in order to become an effective manager is discussed below.

Cognitive skills

Cognitive skills are the primary skills that are required for the effective leadership. These are the skills that are related to the basic cognitive capabilities. These are the skills include collecting, processing and disseminating information and learning. Communication skills like speaking are also important to convey the message effectively. Written skills are also important to learn for effective communication. To be an effective leaders need to develop active learning skills this enables leaders to work on new information and to learn its implications. These skills help managers to adopt behavior and strategies to solve non- routine problems effectively. Gilllen et al (1985) stated that the critical thinking is also an important aspect of leadership in order to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches of work. Kirkpatrick et al revealed that the manager must gather and integrate the enormous amount of knowledge about the functions of the business to become an effective manager. By getting detailed knowledge about the business, manager can effectively formulate the strategies, solve problems and make decisions.

Business skills

Business skills include the skills that are related to the functional area of the field of the leader. This includes the knowledge about the contexts in which individual work. Business skills also involve the management of the resources and operational analysis. In addition it also involves management or personnel resources to motivate followers for their work. The skills of managing financial resources also come in business skills. Harvard professor Kotter said that the expertise in business is more important the knowledge.

Interpersonal skills

The term social skills refer to the person’s ability of making relationship at the workplace. People with high social skills are found to be mean-spirit. Socially skilled person has wide connections. They have the ability of finding common ground in people of different types. They work on the assumption that nothing can be done alone. These types of people have a detailed network of the people that they can use at the time of action. In every company social skills is considered to be the key capability of the leaders. To be an effective leader a person should develop its social skills. No leader is the island. After all the work of the leader is to get things done by the people and it is not possible without the required social skills.

Strategic skills

The strategic skills are the highly conceptual skills. These skills are needed for the understanding of complexity, dealing with ambiguities, and influencing the organizations. Strategic skills include planning-related skills of imagining the systems and problems in different situations. The environment scanning skills is also an important skill that individual should learn to become an effective leader. Environmental scanning skills are related to the identification of downstream consequences and identification of key causes of the problem. These strategic skills also contains some problem solving components including problem identification this help in determining the true nature of a problem that is faced in the organization. Effective leaders also need to learn the solution appraisal and objective evaluation skills in order to evaluate the solution of a problem in an appropriate way.

Organizational culture and Leadership development

The role of culture in making of a leader gets overlooked. The culture of the organization also plays an important role in supporting and hindering the development of the leader. Organization culture is basically the values, beliefs, rules and practices of the organization. Most of the managers do not account the role of culture while making a leader in their organization. The most considerable reason of neglecting culture influence in the development of the leader is their wrong understanding about their culture. But failing to understand the role of culture in making the effective manager can be costly.

Some executives have a wrong perception that sending managers in the leader development program can produce better leaders that can handle the challenges in a better way. But there is more to do with the managers to make them an effective lender. To build an effective manager, organizations need to focus on the context in which the development of the leaders takes place. Organizational culture is the more significant part of the context. For making a good leaders organizations needs to assess the drivers and the culture of the organizations.

Role of Work motivation in building effective managers

Motivation is the psychological and physiological urge of the individual. Motivation helps in activating the behavior and drive that helps in achieving some goal and objective. The motivation level of the individuals very situation to situation. The situations in which individuals are working have an influence on the level of motivation. There are certain ways in which the motivation level of individuals can be improved. These factors are important in making the effective manager

Job enrichment

Organizations who want to develop effective manager must design their jobs in such a way that increase achievements, recognition, responsibility and growth. The work assigned to the managers should be compromised of work contents, greater use of skills and increased authority.

Flex time

Organizations should provide employees with flexi time. This flexi time will help the manager in determining their own work schedules. Providing flexi time with the core time will help in developing effective manager.

Quality circles

Some autonomous work groups should be defined that meet on daily basis to solve some problems. By the help of these groups they will exchange their experiences and ideas on problems. This will help the managers in learning from other experiences and skills.

Organizational reward system and effective managers

The organizational reward system has been found strongly related to the development of the effective manager. Fair pay benefits and promotions motivate the managers to learn new things and to develop the skills. Employment recognition system is an effective tool of making the effective manager. When organizations give recognition and rewards for the task they performed they will motivated to repeat their efficiency in the future days.

Problem solving

Middle and senior level management are seems to be more engaged in problem solving. The results of the problem solving are dependent on the allocation of the resources and work results. The situations in which the problem solving activities are take place are often complex, unstructured and non-routine. Sometimes the problems occur are beyond the control of the manager. Managers lacking in sufficient life experiences and training found problems beyond their control. Effective managers normally follow some steps in order to solve a particular problem. In First step manager identify the problem by gathering and evaluating the information. After gathering the information regarding the problem managers makes logical assumption based on their prior experiences. Tentative alternate solutions are developed and each alternative is than considered in depth. On the basis of decision criteria each alternative is evaluated by the manager. Only that alternative is selected which best fit with the criteria. After selection of the best alternative the solution is implemented. The results of the solutions are evaluated with time.


After the thorough review of the theories and literature it is evident that we cannot support a side and negate the other side when it comes about the discussion of whether leaders are born or made. The studies show that the both in born characteristics and the skills adoption is important to become an effective leader. Leadership can be learned by many ways but cannot be taught, Leaders learn 80 percent of things from their job. They learn by monitoring others leaders, by taking feedback, by coping with the multiple situations. Leadership is basically the life time learning.

The insight on the previous literature shows that trait is not alone sufficient for making an effective manager. These are the only preconditions of becoming an effective manager. An individual with certain traits needs to adopt certain skills and knowledge to become an effective manager. Possessing some traits enable the individual that he can also become the effective manger by adopting some required skills.

Leadership can be something an art but application of special skills and techniques are required in order to be successful. Even if there are certain inborn qualities that make one a good leader, these natural talents need encouragement and development. A person is not born with self-confidence. Self-confidence is developed, honesty and integrity are a matter of personal choice, motivation to lead comes from within the individual, and the knowledge of business can be acquired. While cognitive ability has its origin partly in genes, it still needs to be developed. None of these ingredients are acquired overnight.

These executives need to accomplish the importance of the culture in the development of the leaders. They need to factor the organizational culture in a way that helps in building leaders. Organizations need to understand their culture. By thorough understanding of their culture organizations can determine that which factors in their culture can hinder and enhance the development of the organizations.

In a nut shell we can say that in born attributes is the pre-condition of becoming an effective manager but to become successful leader individual should adopt some skills relevant to their business. Although a leader born with set of qualities that make it different from the non-leaders but there is an influence of other environmental factors in making him the one of the successful and effective manager.


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Steve Jones

My name is Steve Jones and I’m the creator and administrator of the dissertation topics blog. I’m a senior writer at study-aids.co.uk and hold a BA (hons) Business degree and MBA, I live in Birmingham (just moved here from London), I’m a keen writer, always glued to a book and have an interest in economics theory.

2 thoughts on “Effective Managers Born or Made”

  1. I believe leaders are made not born. This may prove controversial to some readers but this is what I believe. Leaders are shaped and made by the environment they are exposed to. Paul

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