Leadership Traits: Are People Born to Lead?

  • Jeffrey B. MatthewsEmail author
Part of the Success in Academic Surgery book series (SIAS)


The notion of the “born leader” has been deeply rooted in popular imagination since ancient times, whether reflected in historical political structures that bestowed power to monarchs by virtue of their bloodline, or in cultural legends that attribute the triumphs of heroes to circumstances of birth and their innate superior skills. From antiquity, it has been assumed that leaders displayed certain personal characteristics that distinguish them from their followers. Plato believed that leaders possessed superior reasoning capacity and wisdom, whereas Machiavelli emphasized the inherent ability of the successful leader to understand and to manipulate social situations. Behavioral scientists still debate whether leaders are born or made. Indeed, in scholarly circles, the pendulum of opinion has swung from nature to nurture and back again over the past century. This chapter discusses leadership traits, and the essence of whether one is born with these traits or can acquire them.


Personality Trait Tacit Knowledge Emotional Intelligence Transformational Leadership Situational Context 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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