Interesting questions and difficult ones to get any consensus on. Certainly those who offer leadership classes (for profit, of course) would argue that the qualities that leaders possess, the body language and other acoutrements. can be acquired and practiced. It is easy enough to identify qualities that leaders possess - influence and the ability to persuade are two of the outward identifiable qualities of leaders.
But good leaders (of which we see few these days) - also have internal qualities - integrity, compassion, vision, determination - can these qualities be taught? Caesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, has seen that "alphas" and "betas" are not interchangeable. Alphas are accepted as leaders. Betas are not. He states this not only in reference to dogs but also to their masters.
I believe from my own observations, that Milan is right. There are alphas and betas and they are not interchangeable. Betas can attain a position of leadership. Sometimes through promotion along a chain of command, through their own industriousness, or through social connections, betas, given the right circumstances and a lack of alphas, can arrive in a position of leadership. Yet they will not hold it well. They will seek to please, to make alliances often with those who are non-threatening, and they will stick to the "tried and true" methods. Lacking vision and an understanding of the bigger picture, they will micromanage but they will not lead. They take no risks. They are not innovators, they have no vision beyond surviving the day. They may hold a position of leadership but they are never truly leaders.
A leader is not afraid of risks, yet a good leader will always consider the greater good of those around him/her. Leaders are driven by their vision, their passion for what they do is paramount, not the renumeration for the work they are doing. They will have influence without a word being spoken. They are sometimes hated, sometimes beloved, but always known by their quality. Leaders have a certain charisma. They have vision and determination. They move the world forward. They know where they are headed and inevitably someone ( a beta, no doubt) will follow them. Once one does, there will be another, then several, and soon there is a large and growing following around the leader.
In school, it is the betas, who are often the quiet and compliant children. The alphas are the ones who have unbounded energy and curiosity, who won't always do what the teacher asks, and who set the tone for the class. If a young alpha has an alpha teacher, all will be well. But if a young alpha has a beta teacher, things often do not turn out well for the beta. The alpha is a much maligned commodity in our present conformist culture, yet without our leaders, our trendsetters, our people of vision, we would cease moving forward. Humans, like sharks, need to keep moving forward.
I once had an eye-opening experience. A well-meaning friend talked me into attending an "Assertiveness Training Course". The friend, (or perhaps acquaintance would be more apt) had mistaken my love of solitude for a lack of assertiveness. I was curious as to know how one would become assertive, so I went.
There was a set of desks in the classroom where the session took place. Not two minutes into the first session, the instructor asked everyone in the back row to "move closer to the front" as not many people were in the front row. Many did. I did not. I was the only one left sitting in the back row. The instructor asked me if I would not like to move up to the front. I looked up and around and said "No!". That was apparently not the answer he wanted, so he walked over to me and said, "I'd like you to move up to the front of the room." I repeated my answer "No!". "I don't think you understand..." The man began. At that point, I grabbed my backpack and stood up. "Yes, actually I do." Thinking I was following his directions, the man backed up. I stepped around him and headed for the door. "Where are you going?" The man asked nervously. "I understand that I don't need this class. But all the people who moved up sure do." With that I left. Leadership can not be taught. If leaders follow orders - are they really leaders? Is that a paradox?