COLUMN: Leaders are both born and raised


Theo Edwards, Opinions Editor

With President’s Day having just passed, it is important to examine how a leader mentally functions and what their main traits are. Are parts of leadership inherited or worked upon? Is it a mixture of both nature and nurture? 

Either way, they first need to be self-aware to be successful as well as prioritize their own personal development. Those that can receive criticism well can then work on it to improve, pushing themselves further. 

Great leaders also focus on developing others and being ethical. Leaders should play to the strength of their team and acknowledge emotions occurring to know how to handle any situation. 

As for the situations they want to come to life, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality,” said Warren Bennis, a pioneer in leadership research. In order to do so, leaders should be able to have strategic thinking, and the ability to encourage change and action in their environment. 

Being an effective communicator not only through speaking but being technologically adept is a 21st century leadership trait. A leader should be authentic and honest in their communication. 

Even if someone is new to technology, true skill is about adapting to a changing environment. Survival of the fittest is not about strength, but the ability to adapt to situations. A strong leader is able to take things in stride and is able to show their team hope in facing adversity. 

Relating to a leader connecting to their team, according to the Scientific American, a popular science magazine, “When a shared social identity exists, individuals who can best represent that identity will have the most influence over the group’s members and be the most effective leaders.” 

Simply being a part of a group and exemplifying the traits of that group someone is leading can make someone a better leader. The example Scientific American uses is Former President George Bush connecting with Middle America using particular vocabulary, but a more modern example would be Bernie Sanders using his upbringing in a lower economic background to appeal to voters in his political campaign. 

Effective leaders are able to pick out their group’s identity to then fit with the policies they plan to promote, just like Sanders promoting free healthcare and college for all after growing up in a lower income neighborhood. 

Drawing back to the debate of nature versus nurture in terms of where leadership comes from, I believe it is a mixture of the two. Some people are born into different environments that contribute to how they adapt to the world, communicate, and more. 

 Theo Edwards is a junior psychology major. They can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]