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Anatomy of a CEO: Taking the nature vs. nurture debate to business leaders
By Sam Boykin CHARLOTTE — The Great Man Theory says leaders are born, not made. It originated in the 19th century and asserted that certain individuals — through natural charm, intelligence and wisdom — are destined to do great things and wield great power. Think of Eisenhower, Churchill or, around Charlotte, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl. But does such a theory still hold true today? Are great leaders and business executives born? Or can any reasonably intelligent person be groomed to become a CEO? And exactly what does it take to become an effective leader? Do they all share common traits, behaviors and habits? In his book “Smart Is Not Enough,” Alan Guarino posits that corporations traditionally based their talent searches on those at the top of their academic classes. Yet some of the most successful executives haven’t been good students.Guarino points to people like Paul Orfalea, who founded Kinkos and later sold it to Federal Express for $2 billion. “He graduated seventh from the bottom of his class in college,” Guarino said.