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You Can't Be a Leader without Right Personal Qualities: Sample Argumentative Essay

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The purpose of this essay is to discuss Grint’s perspective on 'person-based' leadership and how it's crucial to learn about the personal qualities a leader should have. But the question arises, are personal qualities the only thing that a leader should have? The answer to this question is no. According to Grint, personal qualities play a major role in making a person leader, but there are other things that matter too, its important to achieve results, be in a position where the leader has the power to control situations, and even the process or method used by the leader in a particular situation.

Leadership is something concerned with a directional setting with novelty and linked to change. Grint’s other 3 perspectives (process-based leadership, result-based leadership, and position-based leadership) have a major impact on refining the definition of leadership because all of them are linked to each other. There are also some assumptions that limit the contingency theory and utility that can be categorized as tame, wicked, and critical problems. It’s important to understand how good leadership can help in solving and giving solutions to these unseen problems with the power and control they have in their hands.

According to Grint’s 'person-based leadership' perspective, it is who you are that determines whether you are a leader or not, it is basically based on a leader's character or personality. The best example of this is charismatic leadership. Charismatic leadership is basically the method of encouraging particular behaviors in others by way of eloquent communication, persuasion, and force of personality. Charismatic leaders are always successful in making a great impression on their followers and motivating their followers, just like how ‘actors’ try to convince the ‘audience’ with their acting. Let's take Adolf Hitler as an example. He was not a very social person and thus didn't make any intimidating relationships with other people, but he had that thing called charisma in him, he was an excellent speaker with great communication skills, and he had a vision in his mind to accomplish the mission. All these personal qualities made him a perfect charismatic leader. Person-based leadership says that humans do lead the task, but identity changes over time. Today person-based relation is useful because it is more based on emotional relationship, whereas non-human leaders always fail because they cannot take the changes and adapt themselves to the dynamic environment. All the personal qualities are really important to become a leader, but personal qualities are not the only thing a leader needs.

Grint's person-based leadership theory is really important to understand how to become a leader, but other perspectives are equally important to understand the definition of a leader. The distinction between Grint’s person-based leadership and process-based leadership is one that has developed in wider leadership literature. This represents a significant change of leadership as both a noun and a verb. While the first perspective focuses on individuality, personality, skills, and achievements, the second focuses on how leadership happens, as it can also be defined as a social process. The leadership as verb perspective draws attention to leadership as a practice that is situated, relational, and embedded in the everyday, rather than in the extraordinary individual who occupies a rarefied position.

Another crucial Grint's perspective is the result-based leadership theory. It is appropriate to say that without results there is little support for leadership as results give power to definition. It is not always important that people who are responsible are the ones who achieve results, even people who are irrational, insane, and unreasonable can be leaders through the results of their actions. It doesn’t matter the way results are achieved; it can be ethical or unethical. Whereas Grint’s person-based leadership does not talk about whether a leader with all personal qualities will be able to achieve the result. It focuses more on attributes a leader should have rather than how these qualities will help him achieve his goal.

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The ‘position’ of a person plays a major role in explaining the theory of leadership. Grint’s position-based leadership theory tells that “it is from where the leader operates makes them the leader” (Grint, 2005). In formal organization, position-based leadership matter as a mode of social organizations into a set of predetermined relationships and practices providing the blueprint. Authority relationships legitimize the pattern of the dependency process, and formal organization has the least distinctive yet 2 complementary aspects. Firstly, the structure of the organization institutionalizes the leadership process into networks of processes. Secondly, meditating or interpersonal relationships with others. Let's take the example of Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon). In today's time, he is one of the most successful leaders. The thing that makes him a successful leader is all his personal qualities and the goals he has achieved, but there is one more thing that made him a leader – because of his 'position' he had all the authority and control to show all his skills. This example tells how important a person’s position can be linked to his or her personal qualities to become a good leader.

Often people make a mistake by assuming ‘manager' and 'leader' same thing, but this is not true. Leadership is defined as the alleged opposite of management. The difference between a manager and a leader is that a manager takes care of all the seen problems that have strait jack solutions also called 'déjà vu', whereas a leader can't take care of all the unseen problems with his personal qualities and experience also called 'vu jade'. Leaders are required to reduce the anxiety of the followers and their team members by providing them with innovative solutions, for example, if the prices of the shares drop, how the CEO of the company will react to find a solution to the problem would be called traits of a leader. The mindset of a leader matters a lot that is what makes him different than a manager.

The power a leader has is different than the power of a manager or a commander. It is assumed that there are 2 types of powers. Firstly hard power, which means that physical strength and dominance are asserted through asymmetric resources than an idea, for example, political strength asserted by the parties to win elections. Secondly, soft power, which doesn’t mean weak or fragile, but rather influence derived from legitimacy and positive value, such as military, they have to win hearts and have some values to prove. The cold war is one example in which both powers soft and hard will be used. Commanders better fit better with hard power, whereas leaders are more suited with soft power because they have the skill to motivate and influence other people. For example, let's the case study of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) threatened the USA that they will throw a nuclear bomb if the USA tries to invade Cuba. This is one of the most important cold wars in history. Two leaders John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev showed their managerial as well as their leadership problems, which means that both soft and hard powers were used to end the cold war. Kennedy and Khrushchev were great personalities, they solved all their wicked problems like leaders do and all their critical problems like commanders. This explains that a leader is a manager, but a manager is not a leader, it's because of all the personal qualities he has better than a manager defines a leader.

The leadership depends on the situation to a great extent. Hence, leadership can take different forms at different times. Personal qualities are not the only thing that matters in leadership; cultural influences such as nation of origin and religion can be also important. There is variation in the concept of leadership across the world, therefore, consisting of a wide range of beliefs about leaders. Leaders don’t make all decisions, they let their team participate, and a common decision is made in favor of the majority. Let's take the example of how personal qualities are not the only leaders need. We are all acquainted with the concept of 'championship' or 'champions' in various games and sports. Commonly a team is judged or agreed to be a 'champion' at regular intervals, e.g., annually, in virtue of certain features of its performance against other contesting teams. Then for a certain period, for example, a year, this team is by definition a 'champion', even though as months go by it becomes probable or certain that they will not repeat their success. But now let us imagine a championship of the following kind. In this championship, each team specializes in a unique method, strategy, and style of play of its own, to which all its members subscribe to the best of their ability. Secondly, 'championship' is not adjudged and awarded in terms of the highest number of markable successes. Similarly, if the perspective of leadership changes to result-based leadership, a person's personal skills won't matter unless there are actual results.

Thus, the statement is true that “you can’t be a leader without all personal qualities”, a leader needs all the personal qualities like good communication skills, influencing and motivating techniques. But that’s not enough, a leader should have the capability to make his skills and personal qualities into results. It’s very easy for any leader to operate from a position in a formal organization, but a real leader knows how to lead others in informal organizations. Leaders know how to engage themselves with culture and changing environment. Leaders have that soft power as assumed to influence their followers with the charisma and passion they have in themselves (Grant's person-based leadership). They can tackle wicked and critical situations with unique solutions. This sums up that all four perspectives of Grint – position-based, person-based, result-based, and process-based leadership – are interrelated and one thing leads to another. But it will not be true if we say personal skills are the only that defines leadership, all other perspectives of Grint give meaning to a whole new definition of leadership.


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  8. SHARMA and GRANT (2019). SAGE Journals: Your Gateway to World-Class Journal Research. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2019].
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