Some months ago I read a post written by Colleen Sharen titled, Leaders Are Born, Not Made.
I have continued to think through this question, particularly as I have changed my views somewhat over the years. I felt it appropriate to provide further insight into this question of leadership, based on my response to the original blog.
It appears Colleen hit the right note to stimulate thought and some controversy based on the various responses from other readers that were posted in response. My belief is that leaders can be taught and developed, however there is a ‘minimum’ requirement that must exist to start with i.e. emotional intelligence, intelligence, physical, personality along with other skills, traits, behaviours and attributes.
What I am interested to discover (and I continue to look for this when developing and working with newer and more experienced leaders) is to what degree is the nature versus nurture argument a reality. The follow up comments in the blog generally agreed that leaders are made and born. This is consistent with my view, however I wonder why we continue to ask the question, inferring that it must be one or the other!
An individual requires a base level of potential and attributes to work from. Not every person can be a leader.
In fact, believing that anyone can be a leader potentially cheapens the dedication and challenges that effective leadership requires. Maybe being born with 60% (???) of the necessary attributes and potential (nature), with the remainder being learned (nurture) through development, role models, personal experience etc. is one theory. I believe that there must be some innate potential that is ingrained.
I have seen leaders truly develop into their roles, however in retrospect the majority of them possessed a reasonable level of the necessary leadership traits to begin with. What differentiated many of them was their willingness to face their reality and develop a few core gaps whilst focusing on their strengths.
The argument of nature versus nurture to me is not the key question. The bigger question, no matter where or how you obtained your role, is how effective are you as a leader?
What I do know is that not all leaders by name are leaders in practice – a title does not make you a leader. Unfortunately, this is more the norm than the exception.
- Leaders Are Born, Not Made (Colleen Sharen)
- Practicing Leadership: Skill Development & Commitment (coachstation.com.au)
- What Makes a Leader? (intagreat.wordpress.com)
- 360 View in 360 Words: Leadership and Influence (coachstationsteve.com)
- Are great leaders born or made? (agbeat.com)
- Born…”to be, or not to be”…a leader, or anything else. (sturner2.net)