Is leadership a ‘natural’ attribute or can it be acquired?
If you’re African, you’re likely to have heard the phrase, ‘be the head and not the tail’ at some point. There is no doubt that there is a natural hierarchy in the society we are in and this same structure will always be found in some way where ever we find ourselves. On one hand, we have the leaders: the CEOs, directors, politicians, presidents, activists, etc. On the other hand, we have the other, shall we say, ‘regular’ people: those who find themselves performing some function in the bigger picture; a function not as active as the leaders. The question – an extremely important one for that matter — is do we have some kind of choice and self-made impact on where we fall in this hierarchy and social structure? Are leaders born or are they made?
First of all, What is a Leader?
Before we even begin to attempt to answer this question, we have to be clear on exactly what a Leader is. I notice the term being thrown around a lot and used without much thought. What a ‘Leader’ is, holds different meanings to us as individuals. A leader could be someone who is performing well in their field in comparison to others, for instance, a “leading scientist” who finds themselves at the top of their field. However, that’s not the kind of leader I have in mind just this moment. I’m talking about those individuals who people are naturally drawn to; those people who have this natural affinity (and I use the word ‘natural’ very lightly) to leading others. I want to help you understand why people despite being in a team have this ability…
It makes sense to assert that leaders have simply been “born” that way. After all, if we all had the same chances and attributes as others, why is it that some people stand out among others without appearing to have worked towards gaining these attributes? Why is it that I could spend 10 times the amount of effort to gain public-speaking, whereas it comes naturally to some?
The truth is, according to expert researchers and studies, up to 70% of Leadership can be learnable. 70% of our leadership attributes are gathered completely through experience: learning as you go will enable you to make informed decisions in the future having had the benefit of hindsight.
So while some may not be born with leadership skills, they may be able to develop them with hard work and determination. However, some times people have something in them which the rest of us don’t always have. It’s not to say that this “something” is the be-all because, in order to reach the full potential, we have to actually nurture this natural talent.
Are leaders born or made?
My Conclusion: A bit of both.. But more made than born.
Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way. — General George Patton