By R. W. J. Keeble
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To what extent can training help us? One key to any success that training can bring is clearly the selection of persons who have leadership potential, some capacities not yet fully realised but demonstrably in them. Training will not put high personal qualities into people who have not already got them: it cannot develop what is not there. The problem is to discover what is there. Many tests and interviewing techniques do not reveal the answer to this question: they often provide information only partly relevant, which is used to back up "hunches" that are only partly well founded.
It may well be asked how these desirable processes normally come about in oneself and how they can be stimulated in young people. No doubt there are complex answers to such complex questions, but perhaps it is not oversimplifying the issues to name a few ways made obvious by common experience. The most obvious is by an increasing quantity and quality of contact with other people. The rough, raw, raucous young man whose ill-judged attempts at striking up friendships strike only sparks of hostility or pass too easily into boisterous horseplay, may merely be expressing his lack of a normal range and depth of relationships, and not in fact an inborn tendency to hooliganism which will surely lead him to the gallows.
On the other hand, while the "great man" theory is discredited, there is considerable evidence that "Member personalities do make a difference to group performance" and that "they do affect that aspect of the group's behaviour to which the leadership concept applies". Clearly the idea of a trait needs to be broadened from something akin to an unvarying physical characteristic to something like a persistent motivation. Such a person can be one on whom the action taking place in a group can focus, especially those actions, currents, tendencies which help to integrate the group into a coherent whole.
A Life Full of Meaning. Some Suggestions and Some Material for the Future Training of Youth Leaders by R. W. J. Keeble