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The notion that good leaders can learn skills through a dynamic learning experience is supported by other researchers; for example, Rodd (2006, p.13) proposes that practitioners within the Early Years profession can become leaders through ‘demonstrating increasing competence’ and by developing the personal skills necessary to become a leader. [Accessed 7 September 2019]; Available from: https://
Popular books, such as Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, propose that certain traits or characteristics can be learned.
Covey (2004, p.46) states that ‘our character, basically, is a composite of our habits.’ Covey continues saying that habits are consistent, can be learned or unlearned and express an individual’s character and how effective or ineffective they are (Covey, 2004, p.46).
A problem with both trait theories and contingency theories is that they appear to focus on the characteristics of the leader and do not consider the characteristics of, the interactions with, or the role of, subordinates.
Contingency theory does not explain why some leaders are better in certain situations than other leaders and also how organisations deal with a mismatch between leaders and certain situations (Northouse, 2013, p.129).
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Even early theorists such as Taylor (1911, p.7) argued that good leaders are not born and required systematic training instead of being reliant on ‘some unusual or extraordinary man’.
It is further argued by Zaccaro (2007, p.10) that because being a good leader is complex there is probably an interaction of the leader’s characteristics as well as an interaction with the variables present in different situations and contexts.
The concept of leaders having certain characteristics dominated research prior to the Second World War.
It was thought that individuals could be selected for leadership positions if they showed the appropriate characteristics or alternatively that traits could be taught to leaders (Furnham, 2005, p.571).