Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries

Is Leadership a Matter of Nature or Nurture?

Joe Margraf

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874608.ch5

A question that I have pondered throughout my rise through the American Fisheries Society (AFS) is whether people are born or learn to be leaders. As I reach the end of my career, there is no doubt in my mind that much experience and training (nurture) are needed to become an effective leader in any organization. Aside from personality traits, which are highly influenced by life experiences, I have no evidence that genetics (nature) play a role in being predisposed to leadership. In this vignette, I will talk about my life experiences, explore my reasons for this belief, and provide some lessons learned to assist others in their rise through leadership.

Before I launch into a discussion of leadership, I want to give my personal perspectives on what I consider the profession of fisheries science is all about. My definition of fisheries science is the study, or scientific application of study results, of human interactions with fish and other aquatic organisms that serve as targets of fisheries. This includes the study of factors that influence this interaction, such as, but not limited to, fish rearing, fish ecology, water quality, pollution, human infrastructure, climate change, endangered species, and fisheries management. The human–fish interactions may be direct or indirect. My definition does not include the use of fish as study organisms where there is not an implied or stated connection with human–fish interactions, such as fish used as surrogate species of study for other purposes like cancer research.