Recently, with the rapid development of economic globalization and fierce market competition, enterprises are in need of more good managers to help improve the level of management and enhance competitiveness. The issue of whether good managers are born or made is of great concern to the public. Some people argue that good managers are simply born with certain superior genes to manage and lead, while others claim that competent managers can be cultivated by proper education and experience. In this essay, detailed analysis is given about both the innate effects and the acquired effects on a good manager, and then a brief conclusion is made that only a small minority of managers are born with the talent which an effective manager needs today, and the vast majority of today’s capable managers are made. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that even those who have already had some innate factors for a would-be manager, they still need a combination of both nature and nurture to be cultivated into a great manager.
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The relation between managers and leaders
Before the topic can be analyzed further, it is necessary to discuss the similarity and difference between managers and leaders. Generally, it is believed that there are some differences between these two positions, but Turk (2007: 21) said that “a good leader and good manager can, and should, be one and the same”. To put it another way, although leadership and management are not the same, as an outstanding manager, one should have both the superior abilities of a leader and manager, such as good communication skills, motivation skills and decision making abilities. In addition, having an outstanding grasp of the leadership skills may, to some extent, improve the qualities of an excellent manager (Lorenz & Dittman, 2011). The innate factors of good managers
It is undeniable that everyone is different, and there are a few of individuals who are born with some special genes, personalities and natural advantages seem to be easily succeeded in a good manager.
Generally speaking, it is universally acknowledged that women and men have quite different DNA,
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which may have an impact on their working behavior. For example, according to the Institute of Child Health, females appear to have a high EQ (emotional quotient) than males, and this kind of innate social cognition is one of the crucial factors that could drive a manager to be successful (Kellaway, 1997). Similarly, it is not uncommon that some individuals are born with high IQ (intelligence quotient), and learning seems to be much easier for them since they can learn and apply knowledge quickly and elastically.
Another genetic factor related to a good manager may be the intuition, because there are some situations that require a manager to make decisions by their intuitive feelings, especially when encountering certain urgent and unpredictable events. Under these circumstances, instinctive decision-making ability is a kind of innate talent that cannot be trained through other ways. Hence, achieving the dreams of becoming competent managers could be less challengeable for those people who have some advantaged genes, which may appear as high EQ, IQ and quick reactions.
In addition, people’s personalities and mettle are also the key innate elements that should be taken into consideration. Through some research, extroverts are more likely to have promotions and become leaders and managers since they have a lot of passion and proactivity, while introverts may only do better in management when their employees are more proactive so that they can get a variety of advice and suggestions into his decision making (Broughton, 2010).
There is a famous personality test called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which is used to analysis one’s personalities and assess whether someone will become a good manager. During this test, outstanding leaders and managers mostly fall into the ENTJ category (extrovert, intuitive, thinking, and judging) and the category of ESTJ (extrovert, sensing, thinking, and judging) (Lorenz & Dittman, 2011).
Given the fact that personalities and genes are kinds of nature which play an important role in one’s career, and it is quite hard to change individuals’ personalities and behaviors, as the saying goes, a leopard cannot change its spots. Therefore, it can be seen that some good managers are born with inherent advantages.
The acquired factors of good managers
However, nobody is born with knowledge, experience and perfect skills, and every person has to work on these things by learning and training all through one’s life. That is to say, not only some innate factors are beneficial for individuals to be competent managers, but proper practice and experience make a contribution as well.
It is of paramount importance that as a good manager, one needs to be able to have vast stores of domain knowledge, so as to read and understand all the files and proposals that subordinates submit. Concerning this, general knowledge about management is essential, and there is also a wide range of knowledge that managers have to learn, sometimes it almost covers the whole studies in the business school, including marketing, accounting, finance, strategic technology and entrepreneurship.
By way of example, managers can not only focus on learning how to lead a team to accomplish tasks, they should be taught about how to use the financial knowledge and statistics of annual reports to analysis the cost and profit as well, in order to keep a balance between the long-term plan and short-term goals (Gwyther, 2001). Obviously, an excellent manager is primarily made through studying relevant knowledge, and this is one of the most important acquired factors that may sometimes be a necessary and solid foundation of a successful executive career.
Most successful managers and leaders mentioned that they nearly own some similar traits and skills: “Passion. Respect. Ethics. Listening. Reaching for your dreams. Teamwork. Learn something New Everyday” (Kellaway, 2004: 9). This means that good managers are supposed to have some soft skills, such as communicating effectively, having innovativeness, being flexible in problem solutions and the ability to make decisions. In the hope of cultivating competent managers, these kinds of soft skills are also part of the courses that most business school will provide.
Cass Business School at London’s City University is a good case in point; it has set a MBA program with the joined efforts from some training companies and the British Military leadership academy, in order to help students develop a range of competencies as well as the business knowledge through their experiential learning (Bradshaw, 2013). Thus, it may appear that some manager-related skills and characteristics, which play a key role as to whether a person will make an effective leader, can be nurtured in schools and other training institutions.
Furthermore, it seems that a good manager is more experienced, and the past experience is a sort of treasure that may benefit one’s executive career. For instance, some leaders have done lots of grassroots work and suffered various setbacks before they succeed, and these experiences may not only lay a solid foundation for the later success, but also help them have a better understanding of the company’s internal situation. Besides this, Johnson (2009) mentioned that when he had some interviews with managers, the seasoned high achievers, compared with the inexperienced managers, tend to know more about their customers’ needs and their rivals’ advantages and disadvantages.
This is possibly true when we consider the fact that good managers simply cannot be born with the ability to handle the working pressure, the office relationship, the company programme and the other responsibilities that are associated with a managerial position. These abilities have to be learnt and gathered through life experience. In brief, this suggests that experience is another essential point that leads to an excellent manager.
As previously stated, maybe competent managers are born, and then they are made, just as Levicki (1998) recapitulated in his book, some genetic characteristics are just the raw material from which managers may be nurtured. To clarify, it is gradually acknowledged that, to a certain extent, a great manager is able to be born with certain innate personalities and genes necessary to succeed. Whereas, learning, experience and soft skills, which need to be trained in daily life, are more likely to play an important role that will help managers to climb the ladder of success in the business world. In sum, the acquired factors have some significant influence and contribute a lot to a successful manager.
Nevertheless, it is rather one-side to deny the rationalities of innate effects on a good manager. For this reason, there is not a definitive answer given to whether excellent managers are born or made, but it seems reasonable to conclude that in order to be a good manager, one needs a combination of both nature and nurture, especially the latter.See More on Learning