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As a counter-argument to training leaders, organizations spend billions of dollars on leadership training every year. Some believe that much of this effort to train leaders is probably a waste of money; this position is based on two very basic assumptions that underlie leadership training.

The first assumption is that we know what leadership is, and yet we do not. Experts cannot agree if it is a trait, a characteristic, a behavior, a role, a style or an ability. The second basic assumption is that we can train people to lead. We do seem to be able teach individuals about leadership. Unfortunately, findings indicate we are not so good at teaching people how to lead. Apparently, some people may not have the right personality traits, and there is no evidence that individuals can substantially alter their basic leadership style. Additionally, the complexity of leadership theories makes it nearly impossible for any normal human being to assimilate all the variables and be capable of enacting the right behaviors in every situation.

The second basic assumption is that we can train people to lead. The evidence here is not very encouraging. While we appear able to teach individuals about leadership, findings indicate we "cannot" teach people to lead due to several possible explanations. To the degree that personality is a critical element in leadership effectiveness, some people may not have been born with the right personality traits. A second explanation is that there is no evidence that individuals can substantially alter their basic leadership style. A third possibility is that, even if certain theories could actually guide individuals in leadership situations and even if individuals could alter their style, the complexity of those theories make it nearly impossible for any of us to assimilate all the variables and be capable of enacting the right behaviors in every situation.

What is your reaction to these arguments?

Business Management, Management Studies

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