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eCONnections Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing Volume 9 | June | 2012

Inside

Are leaders born or made?

College News............................p. 2

By Dean Gail Stuart, PhD, RN, FAAN

Calendar of Events.................p. 3 Office of ACademics................p. 4 Office of Research..................p. 5 Office of Practice............... p. 6-8

Leadership seems to be a hot topic these days. We are often hearing such phrases as “lead where you stand” or “lead by example.” Leadership has been the focus of a number of programs here at MUSC and the waterfall of books related to it continues to cascade down the steep cliffs of the organizational literature. Add to that the numerous leadership conferences that pepper the continuing education landscape and you simply can’t escape! All of this makes me wonder whether true leadership can be learned and does everyone even need to be a leader? Quite honestly I remain skeptical because in my own experience, I have known people who have read all the books and taken all the courses but still lack true leadership skills. So too, I think there is a need for followers as much as leaders—and that those individuals who can alternate those roles may represent the best of all worlds. So I have a different take on leadership. I think that a true leader plays to one’s strengths and uses them to promote the aspirations of one’s

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group—whether it is the family, community or workplace. This view acknowledges that not everyone is visionary, good at conflict resolution or successful in crafting strategic plans. But everyone is good at something and those traits can be developed and enhanced. At the end of the day I believe that leadership can be learned, but not necessarily by randomly reading a book or sitting in on an occasional lecture. These are most often superficial and not geared to you and your unique set of traits. Leadership styles vary and so do people. My idea of learning leadership starts with an honest self-assessment of your particular

Published by: Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing Send inquiries to: Beth Khan MUSC College of Nursing 99 Jonathan Lucas St., MSC 160 Charleston, SC 29425

strengths and limitations. Next, identify your personal and professional goals and what new things you need to master in order to achieve them. Then carefully hone in on specific resources that will help you grow, including most importantly, a good leadership role model who will mentor you by giving you specific, challenging and regular feedback about your emerging leadership skills. This, more than anything, will help you learn both by imitation and by real life experiences. Analysis, practice, and feedback will help shape your learnings and mold new behaviors that will position you well to be a true leader today and your many tomorrows….Gail


eCONnections_Jun2012