What makes a great leader?

Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Using your strengths and your weaknesses.
  • Transcript


Question: What makes a great leader?

Nancy Koehn: There must be something initially there as there must be with all of us, right? We are born with gifts, and weaknesses, and vulnerabilities, and talents, and … you know, blue eyes or brown eyes, or short legs or long legs. We're born with a kind of, you know, stock of attributes, and that's true of all of us. I don't think that the shopping list for leaders is terribly specific. So I don't think that great leaders, or effective leaders, noteworthy leaders are born with, you know, with this particular concatenation of attributes. I think what determines whether a leader is effective is how they use not only their talents, their strengths, and their experiences that happened to them … that they come to along their journey, but also what they make of their failures, their own vulnerabilities, their own weaknesses. And finally a host of attributes that I think some leaders purposely, effectively cultivate as … .

Recorded On: 6/12/07