Are Leaders Born or Made – the on-going debate continues…

I’ve been following a recent debate on Linked IN with interest with regards to the Leaders – are they born or are they made.

This debate always brings up a variety of opinions, many of them extremely strong in their perspective.

I should also mention that at the time of writing this, 71% of the votes were in favour that Leaders are born.

So here are a few views of my own to throw into the pot…

Let’s start by replacing the word Leaders with ‘Linguist.’ Are we of the same opinion that you have to be born with a gift for languages?

I’m a parent of two children and neither of them were born with the ability to speak, or with any skills for that matter.

However, what they have done consistently from birth has been to practise their language constantly, everyday, often failing, then correcting themselves and pushing their boundaries at each opportunity.

The key point here is that they are learning this skill.

So, this brings me on nicely to another point of reference regarding how much time we allot to learning skills (or any kind).

We spend hours each day walking, talking, dressing, washing and eating – none of which we could do when we were first born.

Yet, by the time any of us are even just 5 years old, we’ve already ‘banked’ hundreds of hours developing each of these skills.

Let’s develop this into a career…

My career is within Marketing. I studied this at A Level, at degree level and then post-graduate level, ‘banking’ hour after hour of learning. Then I gained my first job in Marketing and have since worked constantly in this field for almost 20 years, in different countries, cultures, industries and organisations.

To be honest, I’ve now lost count of how many hours of learning, failing, succeeding and developing this would equate to.

So, apply this thinking to your own career, or your own pursuits outside of work and even parenting.

Think about how you have improved over time in any one of these areas – yet also consider how much of a constant ‘it’ is within your daily life and thus, how many hours of ‘studying’ you have committed.

So now I ask you again about Leadership….

How much of your life have you devoted to studying, learning and developing your own skills in Leadership?

How many of you in that 71% of the poll are actually Leaders in your organisations?

How many of you have made a pre-determined assumption of what you think Leadership is, without considering what Leadership COULD be.

How many of you have already said to yourselves that ‘this is something I’m just not capable of’ without even exploring it further.

My point is this…

I know nothing about Astro-physics, but I’m sure that if I spent enough hours studying it then I would gain a level of competence that would put me on par with others who’d invested a similar learning time.

Thus, Leadership only appears ‘mythical’ and ‘mysterious’ because we have not ‘banked’ anywhere near the same hours of investigation and learning that we have in other areas of our lives.

The only difference between us and the great Leaders who we all look to in awe, is that they made a decision much earlier in their lives that they wanted to ‘make a difference,’ which subsequently gave them the drive, focus and persistence to follow this through.

If you strip everything back to view the core of a good Leader, is it not simply someone who possesses a ‘clear vision,’ is ‘self-motivated’ and has the ‘conviction’ to follow through their beliefs to ensure they achieve their goal?

Is it not a combination of these traits that draw you towards certain people?

I think this, but clearly from the poll I’m in the minority, however a minority that includes the following….

“One thing you’ll notice about the naturally athletic is that they all seem to be born with a certain grace, the ability to walk with lithe steps and catch a foul ball in the stands.

One thing you’ll notice about leaders is that they’re not naturally born. They don’t have much in common on the surface, other than the fact that they are leaders.

This is bad news is you’ve got the wrong genes but want to throw the shotput, but great news if you’d like to be a leader. It’s a choice, not the way you were born.”

Seth Godin

Who am I?

And, just so you know who I am…. I’m Kevin Matthews, Producer of the Maximise Potential Podcast, and from time to time I try and put my own perspective on situations I’ve faced over the years and share the lessons that I’ve learnt.

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!