There are a number of schools of thought around the issue of leadership and whether it can be developed in the individual through training and practice or whether leadership in the individual is a natural born state. According to the Great Person Theory, leaders throughout history possess key traits that set them apart from others. Modern thinking considers the traits of leadership as personality factors in the individual which can be developed. The key personality traits of successful leadership are often listed as; personal drive, honesty and integrity, leadership motivation, self-confidence, cognitive ability, relevant knowledge, creativity and flexibility.
Leadership is the process by which an individual influences others in ways that help achieve group or organisational goals. Certain personality traits (e.g. cognitive ability and flexibility) are significant in effective leadership. Charismatic leaders generate enthusiasm and loyalty in others and are good at articulating their vision for others to work with. Behaviorial approaches to leadership focus on how leaders behave, with two main identified behavior types, concern for people and concern for product. Contingency theories of leadership advocate different styles of leadership are effective under different conditions.
The most important thing in teaching leadership skills is to overcome the suspicion of leadership itself. Some people perceive it as imposing the leader's will on a huge number of other people, or they might see it as being open to corruption or personal ambitions. Among many people there is suspicion of leaders, and a belief that leadership does not act to encourage the democratic process. People tend to form their own vision of acceptable leadership, and of how leaders should relate to those who are led. It is important to explore how leaders gain legitimacy through the implicit consent of cooperation from those they lead. In essence, the whole concept of leadership is similar to that of France, libertÃ©, egalitÃ©, fraternitÃ©. Thus, a leader gives people freedom first, respects each person's contribution, promoting solidarity, resulting in people coming together to do something. Peoples' vision of how they can become become leaders by going in a particular route or direction is an important aspect in developing leadership.
Groups are reluctant to follow leaders whose context they do not share.