Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Leadership: Money, poverty, or wealth

Can one be poor and be a great leader? Many may assume that the general definition of leadership could apply to anyone regardless of their financial status. However, let’s take this question a further. Would you follow someone who is poor? Many may respond, undoubtedly yes from a moral standpoint. However, how many individuals actually follow individuals who are not as successful or financially well-known such as Donald Trump, Oprah, and Tiger Woods? To get a better understanding of wealth and leadership, it is essential to probe the relationship between follower’s perception of wealth as well as each person’s operational definition of wealth. The definition of wealth can include time, spirituality, health, intellect, or profession. An individual’s perception of wealth is important when discussing its relationship with leadership because of follower’s potential behavior. For example, if one perceives a person to be poor and they are not, but decides to not follow that person because of the follower’s perception, it may prove to be a hindrance to the overall goal of an organization or individual’s personal growth. Even though, many may think it is immoral and incorrect to follow someone based on the financial or wealth status, based on the fundamental laws of learning and memory, individuals associate certain aspects of life with a person’s perceived accomplishments. This in turn presumes that many associate wealth with effective leadership.

Furthermore, it is important to understand that being poor may mean more than financial constraints.  These components can include academic, health and emotional constraints. So does one financial status represent the type of leader they are? Some companies would argue that it does. Many large corporations perform credit checks as well as assess a person’s assets before considering them for a position within their organization. 

Basically, when one thinks of leadership and wealth, a few images may come to mind: a high powered executives; a leader within the c-suite (chief executive officers, chief operational officers, etc.); or a political and social representative. Is there a relationship between wealth and leadership? It seems that there is. Some leaders of present day society portray an image of wealth whether it is small or large. The leadership and wealth relationship can be presented by arguing that a person who exhibits greater behavioral leadership qualities will have a higher amount of wealth than a person who exhibits lower levels of leadership qualities. Wealth is not limited to financial abundance, but knowledge, education, experience, professional networks, and legal aptitudes. Leadership and wealth can be seen as being interrelated, meaning that one can assist in the other whether it is negatively or positively.

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