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Leadership: Leaders, Followers, Environments by Art Padilla

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Ability

Ability is an aptitude or capacity to do something. It could be inborn or learned. Coaches often remark on their inability to “teach” speed, referring to the fact that they can’t teach a naturally slow runner to run faster. Defensive tackles in the National Football League (NFL), Olympic figure skaters, or Sumo wrestlers in Japan have biological predispositions to be shaped as they are. Though some abilities are largely genetic, they have environmental components as well: NFL tackles, Olympic skaters, and Sumo wrestlers still have to be coached in various skills. The ability to get things done is also interlaced with the two other leadership factors listed above, personality and opportunities. Your personality affects your opportunities, and your opportunities influence the abilities that you might develop. At some level it doesn’t matter how you view foot speed, creativity, listening ability, oratory skill, or interpersonal charm. For our purposes it is irrelevant whether these are things you are born with or things you learn. The broad consensus (as noted in Chapter 3) indicates such capabilities are both innate and learned. The more important point is that certain abilities are useful for leaders.

What are some of these capabilities and competencies that define individuals who are considered to be “good” leaders? In answering this question, we first need to consider what it is leaders do. Since leading is an interactive social process, we should expect social interactions ...

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