Human resource management and leadership

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Human resource management is a very vast and complicated thing and a dilemma. In today's world we cannot run a single operation if we don't know how to manage the human resource which is the most import part of world's running life, there are many definitions available for HRM but there is a general understanding that it is a closer fit of a business strategy specifically with personal management, Below are some definitions for HRM but there are few of the several possible.

As per Torrington, D.; Hall, L. & Taylor, S. (2005) Human resource management is the function that is concerned with objectives such as: Staffing (designing structures & contracts, selecting & developing people), Performance (keeping staff motivated & committed, training & developing them as well as rewarding & disciplining them) and Change-management: change is generated by a continual need to innovate and from environmental pressures. Edwin Filppo defines HRM as "planning, organizing, directing, controlling of procurement, development, compensation, integration, maintenance and separation of human resources to the end that individual, organizational and social objectives are achieved." If we read De Cenzo and Robbins (1996: 8) defined HRM as the part of the organization that is concerned with the people dimension, and it is normally a staff or support function in the organization. HRM function is the proviso of aid in HRM issues to argumentation employees or those directly active in producing the organization s goods and employment. Getting people's services, developing their skills, motivating them to perform at high level, and ensuring their continuing maintenance and commitment to the organization are essential to achieving organizational goals. Regardless of the type of organization, government, business, education, health, recreation, or social action this is much the case that is there the authors projected an HRM specific approach as consisting of 4 domains - staffing, training and development, motivation, and maintenance. In addition, Bratton and Gold (2003: 7) explain Human resource management as an approach to managing employee relations which focuses that leveraging people's capabilities is critical to achieving sustainable competitive advantage. This is achieved through a unique set of incorporated employment policies, programs and practices. The authors presented HRM functions as planning, recruitment and selection, appraisal and performance management, reward management, development, employee relations, health and safety, and union-management relations.

Moreover, to Alan Price (2004: 32) HRM aims at recruiting competent, flexible and dedicated people, managing and rewarding their performance and developing key competencies. Help to the working definition of HRM is Abecker et al., (2004). As per their understanding HRM is a strategic and target oriented composition, regulation and development of all areas that affect human resources in a organization. Efficient and effective management of these resources to a large extend, affects human resource behavior, and consequently the performance of the organization as a whole. Moreover, the authors identified HRM with the field it covers. These include planning aspects- personnel requirements analysis and personnel asset analysis, and change aspects- recruitment, personnel development and labor displacement (Ibid). Below diagram will help us have a look at the different fields of HRM.


To kick off our leadership journey let's start from how we see the leadership. Leadership is something which goes beyond heroic acts. Leadership is about principles and how people communicate and adhere by these values these values must be shared for leadership to work. To apply these shared belief leaders should always connect to followers. You might be saying to yourself - well this is easy so far, but let's discuss on what a character in an E. B. White novel once said: "I predict a bright future for difficulty." point is simple - the business of leadership is considerably complex.

There is one more thing that most of the time people are considering managing as a leadership which is not the case and these two are totally different domains and there are certain distinctions between leadership and management. Companies require both leaders and managers, but the fact is that managers dominate most of the organizations. It is always more difficult to be a leader then manager this is one of the reasons why we see so few leaders in most organizations. Moreover, organizations tend to hinder leadership - hierarchies that restrain information flows, internal politics, contradictory agendas, pressure to conform, and a host of other attributes that make leadership incredibly difficult. The most important value of leader is to provide direction. Only leaders can shape and change the context of vision - articulating passion, candor, and integrity, providing a curious and daring exploration of what should be. Good leaders invent themselves and the future for others. Warren Bennis1, one the best contemporary thinkers on leadership, seems to imply that the difference between a leader and a manager is like the difference between those who can master the context of things and those who cannot.

One greater thinker on leadership is John p. Kotter provides good insight that leadership does not produce consistency, but change. Leadership is about generating movements and currents within the organization. Leaders produce change through the processes of establishing direction through vision and strategy, aligning people whose cooperation is needed to achieve the vision, and motivating and inspiring them to overcome the barriers to change. James MacGregor Burns (1978) says in his book that one of the most universal cravings of our time is a hunger for compelling and creative leadership." Burns contends that leaders and followers are peers of one another, each playing a different role. The leader tends to look for what motivates the follower, keeping him productive and moving forward. If we read Robert K. Greenleaf he concludes that "people will freely respond only to individuals who are chosen as leaders, because they are proven and trusted as servants." Here again with his comments we can extract that this gets back to fulfilling people's needs and when these needs are met, people grow and transform the organization. So in brief leadership is the competency and capability to influence and motivate people towards the fulfillment of goals.

Now as HRM and leadership is defined and explained quite briefly under the light of different authors, intellectuals and thinkers now I moved to the core point of this study which is a critical discussion on either leader are born or made? This is a million dollar question; is and has been asked from last so many years and there is no proper answer to it, there are so many views are pro and against that it is difficult to establish one particular point and most of the time this questions answer varies for case to case. Hereunder I analyze both views by studying the great authors, intellectuals and thinkers to have an idea about their views so that some solid point of view can be established.

Leaders are born:

These is one group of though school who says that leaders are born and this is a special God gifted instinct in a human being that made him a leader no one can be taught to be a leader or become a leader, According to Great Man theory, a leader is born and cannot be made. This theory believed that leaders are people who have inborn exceptional qualities and are destined to lead. Great leaders would arise only when there is an urgent need of it. It also suggests that leadership qualities are inherent. Same kind of views has been expresses in trait theory it assume that people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership often identify particular personality or behavioral characteristics shared by leaders. According to Stogdill (1950) leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an organized group in its efforts toward goal setting and goal achievement (Buchanan and Huczynski, 2010). In any organized field there is the necessity to recognize the distinguished figure of a leader, whether it is the animal kingdom or the human modern society. Businesses and firms (but even hospitals, politicians, schools, military, sports…) require a strong figure able to inspire and being a role model to follow.

As per Robbins an individual's personality is the unique combination of psychological characteristics that affects how a person reacts and interacts with others." (Robbins, Setal. 2006, p. 462). Which is visible in the people who are born with the makings of a leader - there are certain traits that differentiate leaders from non-leaders. Cawthon says "To suggest that leaders do not enter the world with extraordinary endowment is to imply that people enter the world with equal abilities, with equal talents." (Cawthon, D L 1996, p. 2) In reference to the great man theory of leadership mentioned above popularized by Thomas Carlyle (1840), popular in the 19th century according to which history can be largely explained by the impact of "great men", or heroes: highly influential individuals who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence or wisdom utilized their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact. Alyssa Gregory says that anyone can be a leader and as per her she sees her daughter using inherit leadership skills to influence her younger brother that shows its born leadership.

Few examples of born leaders are given below:

Muhammad Ali Jinnah "Quiad-e-Azam" (25th December 1876 - 11 September 1949)

Benito Mussolini (29 July 1883 - 28 April 1945)

Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

Prince William of England

Emperor Akihito of Japan

Abraham Linkon USA

Sir Winston Churchill

Leaders are made:

There is one more group of thought who believes that leaders are not born and they are made. As per the opinion of this school of thoughts that no one is born a leader everyone has to develop him/her in the later stage of life, has to polish his/her skills, analyze him/her self and need to have a strong will power to develop himself and become a leader. I have discussed few theories which support that leaders are born one theory known as behavioral theory supports that great leaders are not born but are made. The prime focus of this theory is on actions of leaders. The focus is not on internal states or mental qualities. This theory believes that people can become leaders through the process of teaching, learning and observation. This purely focuses on the later stage of human beings life where anyone can become a leader only thing which required is proper training , strong believe and observation skills. Rooted in behaviorism, this leadership theory focuses on the actions of leaders not on mental qualities or internal states. According to this theory, people can learn to become leaders through teaching and observation. Knowledge and skills contribute directly to the process of leadership, while the other attributes give the leader certain characteristics that make him or her unique.

We can seek to explain that leaders are made by looking at the four factors of leadership which revolve around Leader, Follower, Situation and communication. People can choose to become leaders. People can learn leadership skills. This is the Transformational or Process Leadership Theory. It is the most widely accepted theory today and the premise on which this guide is based. There are many authors, researchers and great thinker who believe that leader are made and developed and are not born, like Warren Bennis (a leading leadership researcher) believes that one cannot be taught to become a leader but one can learn to become a leader over the years through life and work experiences, through mentors, personal reflection. The research of Dr. Carol Dweck lends strong support to this. People with a growth mindset (versus a person with a fixed mindset) believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work-brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities. In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success-without effort. Dr Dweck proved that they're wrong. So, what this means is that qualities like optimism and self efficacy can be developed if one adopts a growth mindset. For example, if I'm aware that I am not optimistic enough and tend to think of the downside more often than the upside, I can learn to become more optimistic because I know doing so helps strengthen that leadership trait in me.

Effective leaders are made, not born, Powell said. They learn from trial and error, and from experience. When something fails, a true leader learns from the experience and puts it behind him. "You don't get reruns in life," he said. "Don't worry about what happened in the past."Good leaders also must know how to reward those who succeed and know when to retrain, move, or fire ineffective staff. "When you get all these together the place starts to hum," he said. "You know you're a good leader when people follow you out of curiosity.

Conger in the "leaders are made and leadership is learned" school of thought see opportunity in two lights." There is the opportunity of unforeseeable circumstances mentioned above and there is the opportunity that can be designed and managed by those responsible for leader development. But at the same point he cautions that designed programs of leadership development are contingent on the motivational desire of the candidates. It appears that many gifted leaders choose not to lead when given the opportunity. The price is too great, the timing not right, the rewards too small and they settle for something else. Elements of leadership can be taught. But to be successful, training must be designed to develop and refine certain of the teachable skills, improve the conceptual abilities of managers, tap individuals' personal needs, interests, and self-esteem, and help managers see and move beyond their interpersonal blocks.

Few examples of born leaders are given below:

Martin Luther King's

Nelson Mandela

Mahatma Gandhi

Adolph Hitler

Robert Bosch

Darwin Smith


Critical Review

As I have discussed in details both HRM and leadership, also a question that leaders are born or made has been discussed under the light of different authors, great thinkers etc. now a critical review has been done on the both statements which is below:


First if we take that leaders are born there are so many examples that we can quote, there is a strong belief among greats and large number of people that people are born naturally talented with leadership skills this is something which can't be taught to someone. Defiantly someone cannot be a leader when he/she born or in the lap of mother but leaders have something in them, a different intrinsic feature which he then later on develop and polish himself and his skills to lead people but that natural instinct remains the main cause, It seems like there's only one thing that a person needs to actually be born with in order to be a leader later in life. That's intelligence. A leader needs to be smart enough. Effective leaders aren't necessarily the smartest people in the room or the company or even on the team. But they have to be smart enough to do the job they're assigned.

Leaders like Mr. Jinnah, Mussolini, Aristotle, and Sir Churchill are naturally born leaders with all the potential to lead from the front and have leadership quality in their souls. because if some one is not born with the ability to lead then how come this is possible to develop and ordinary person is a leader by inducting leadership skills in him/her. This is next to impossible to make a ordinary person a leader, if he/she doesn't possess any of the skill required to be a leader, if he/she does posses any one or two skills even then it's possible to make or develop someone in a leader. But if all natural leaders are born then no one else can be a leader which is not the case, we have seen so many people growing themselves and becoming a potential leader. So this is not always a true case that leaders are born.

On the other hand when someone says that leaders are made, then this is a statement which is supported by many examples where leaders who were developed in the later stage of their life and become a leader, all of us have the potential to lead in some method or other. Leadership is not about dominating human beings. It is about making the other people do what you wanted him to do. There is no requirement to be powerful or charismatic in order to lead. Once you know your strong areas and things that work, it will make your job easy to lead. Leaders also have to follow other people. Let's say a president of certain country had to make a major decision He will ask his advisors first before passing the decision. Even little kids lead their parents, when it comes to acquiring their wants of toys, candy, etc. Kids use parents love and affection towards them to lead their mom and dad. When a person is a leader, does not mean that he is an expert in every field and situation. Situations are very critical and you got to adjust behavior according to them. Finally it depends on the follower whether he really accepts the leader or not. It is the follower who gives leadership voluntarily to the leader. Gandhi was not a naturally born leader, he was afraid of darkness even after his marriage, he was also not that much confident, when he fought his first case in the court he was so nervous that he couldn't speak up and left the room but later on he became a very big leader because he learnt from his mistakes and experiences and develop a particular set of skills needed to lead people.

In short with this critical analysis I can say that leader are sort of born and a sort of develop personalities, both the things natural instinct and learning leadership behavior contributes a lot in making someone a leader.


After reading through the leadership theories and analyzing the behavior of the various leaders used case studies it is evident you cannot really support a side and negate the other when it comes to the discussion of whether leaders are born or made. In my honest opinion after a thorough review I wish to take the side that as much as leaders are born with the ability leading is an art and process that continued to be acquired each single day.

Leadership can be learned by anyone with the basics. But an awful lot of leadership cannot be taught. That's because leadership is an apprentice trade. Leaders learn about 80 percent of their craft on the job. They learn from watching other leaders and emulating their behavior. In addition, a leader chooses role models and seeks out mentors. They ask other leaders about how to handle situations. Leaders improve by getting feedback and using it. The best leaders seek feedback from their boss, their peers and their subordinates. Then they modify their behavior so that they get better results. Leaders learn by trying things out and then critiquing their performance. The only failure they recognize is the failure to learn from experience.

Leadership learning is a lifetime activity. You're never done because there's always more to learn. There are always skills you need to improve on .Good leaders seek out development opportunities that will help them learn new skills. Those might be project assignments or job changes. What they have in common is that the leader develops knowledge and skills that can be used elsewhere. Good and effective leaders also seek out opportunities that will increase their visibility. The fact is that great performance alone will not propel you to the top in your career. You also have to be visible to people who make decisions about promotions and assignments.