There is a lot of speculation as to whether leader’s are born or made. Many charismatic leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, John F. Kennedy or General George Patton (Welch, 2013) appear to be born with the gift of transformational or charismatic leadership, but are these leader’s elevated to leadership because of their natural leadership ability, or are these leadership traits honed and developed over time?
Weber identifies charismatic leaders as those individuals who are separated from ordinary men by a distinct personality that cause these individuals to be regarded and revered as exceptional leaders (Weber, 1968). Gandolfi identifies transformational leaders as those who “have the ability to deeply influence their followers to transcend self-interest and release their full potential for performance toward the goals of their organization” (Gandolfi, 2012, p. 523). The reality is that although some individuals are born with the advantage of good communication skills and the ability to relate to others, critical skills that Stephenson identifies as critical to the development of good leaders (Stephenson, 2004), these skills can be taught and learned through experience, exercise and self-assessment.
Carless, Wearing and Mann identify seven key transformational leader behaviors that allow a leader to measure and assess their leadership behavior in a manner that provides a score, based on the measured, self-evaluation of these seven key behaviors (Carless, Wearing & Mann, 2000). By scoring each of the seven key transformational leadership behaviors using a 5-point Likert Scale and then dividing the score by 7, an overall assessment of the leader’s transformational leadership behavior is provided, with a score of 5 equating to a “strong” transformational leader and a score of 1 equating to a “weak” or “non-transformational” leader.
The following are the seven key transformational leader behaviors indentified by Carless, Wearing and Mann:
1. Vision – Communicates a clear and positive vision of the future
2. Staff Development – Treats staff as individuals and supports and encourages their development
3. Supportive Leadership – Gives encouragement and recognition to staff
4. Empowerment – Fosters trust, involvement and cooperation among team members
5. Innovative Thinking – Encourages thinking about problems in new ways and questions assumptions
6. Lead by Example – Is clear about his/her values and practices what he/she preaches
7. Charisma – Instills pride and respect in others and inspires me by being highly competent
1. Vision: 1 2 3 4 5
2. Staff Development: 1 2 3 4 5
3. Supportive Leadership: 1 2 3 4 5
4. Empowerment: 1 2 3 4 5
5. Innovative Thinking: 1 2 3 4 5
6. Lead by Example: 1 2 3 4 5
7. Charisma: 1 2 3 4 5
OVERALL SCORE: ________
AVERAGE SCORE: ________ (Divide Overall Score by 7)
A Score of 1 to 2: Lacking in several critical key transformational leadership behaviors. Leader needs to assess shortcomings and develop a plan to address shortcomings in order to make improvements or risk failure.
A Score of 3 to 4: Lacking in one or two key transformational leadership behaviors. Leader needs to identify weak areas and develop a plan to address weaknesses while maintaining strengths. Leader is capable but may face challenges.
A Score of 5: Strong in all key transformational leadership behaviors. Leader needs to assess areas of weakness and continue to develop strengths. Leader should have subordinates assess the leader using this tool to ensure that the leader’s perception and that of the leader’s subordinates match.
Leaders are made, not born, but require continued development through experience, training and self-assessment. By using this assessment, leaders will have the ability to identify strengths and weaknesses in terms of transformational leadership behavior, measure improvement, and allow subordinates and to assess their transformational leadership behavior.
Carless S. A., Wearing, A. J., & Mann, L. (2000). A short measure of transformational
leadership. Journal of Business and Psychology, 14(3). Retrieved from EBSCO
Gandolfi, F. (2012, October). A conceptual discussion of transformational leadership and
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Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1355867197?accountid=28844 (2013).
Stephenson, C. (2004). From the dean: are leaders born or made? Ivey Business Journal Online,
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Weber, M. (1968, December 15). Charisma and institution building. The Heritage of Society.
University of Chicago Press. Chicago and London.
Welch, J. (2013, June 19). Charismatic leaders: insights on charismatic leadership from the
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