Station 2:
Leadership is an Ability

Dr. Peter G. Northouse, a noted authority on leadership, states the following about “Leadership Is an Ability”:

"A person who has leadership ability is able to be a leader—that is, has the capacity to lead. While the term “ability” frequently refers to a natural capacity, ability can be acquired. For example, some people are naturally good at public speaking, while others rehearse to become comfortable speaking in public. Similarly, some people have the natural physical ability to excel in a sport, while others develop their athletic capacity through exercise and practice. In leadership, some people have the natural ability to lead, while others develop their leadership abilities through hard work and practice."  

As with skill theory (which you’ll learn about in Station 3), describing leadership as both a natural capacity and an ability that can be acquired makes leadership accessible to everyone. This is viewed as a strength of ability theory. 

Some supporters of trait theory argue that ability theory is too time-consuming or perhaps even a waste of time when trying to cultivate leadership in people without the natural ability to lead. 

Next Up:

DEBRIEF: EXPLORING THE FIVE THEORIES OF LEADERSHIP

ACTIVITY

Review the five theories of leadership as a group and then reflect on them together.

SELF-REFLECTION

ASSIGNMENT

Consider which theory of leadership most resonates with you.

WHAT DEFINES A LEADER? TWO PRESIDENTS SPEAK OUT

WATCH

Listen to former U.S. presidents discuss what leadership qualities they find most important.

References

Peter G. Northouse, Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice (Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2009).

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