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Effective leaders, circa early 1970s

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

If you read current books on leadership, you might believe that personality is the greatest determinant of leadership success.

Only a few decades ago, though, that belief would’ve been viewed as flawed, self-centered and wrong.

Spending time with Leadership and Decision Making, one of the most influential business books of 1973, we noticed that:

Only 10 of the book’s 233 pages mention personality at all. In those pages, the authors refer to personality as something that can’t be reliably applied to leadership problems. Excerpt: “Instead of looking at the personality of the effective leader, it is possible that a more productive approach would be to look for the behavioral correlates of effective leadership … .”

In other words, what a leader does — not how he does it — determines his effectiveness.

Specific skills — particularly mathematical and analytical skills that lead to sound decisions — form the basis of leadership, not the ability to motivate people.

We bring this change in thinking about leadership to your attention not because we believe that the older approach is wiser than today’s. But it is worth knowing about.

—Adapted from Leadership and Decision Making. Victor H. Vroom and Philip W. Yetton, University of Pittsburgh Press.

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