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Born or Made?

Are leaders born or made? This question continues to be discussed and debated and the debates and discussions will likely go on forever.

My belief? I believe leadership is a skilled that can be learned. I say, “can be” because not everyone believes they can learn the skills, or is willing to put in the time and effort required to learn the skills.

I do not believe that people come out of the womb as “natural leaders”. I do not believe in the myth of “the natural” in any field. I believe we can learn, develop and grow skills if we have a growth mindset and are willing to put in the time and energy and engage in purposeful and deliberate practice.

I do believe that some people are born into an environment that is conducive to developing leadership skills.  I believe that some people spend time in their early years where they are continually exposed to and learn skills associated with leadership.

I believe that communication skills, including listening skills, can be learned and developed. I believe that emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion are skills that can be learned and developed. I believe that courage, integrity, and professionalism are all skills that can be learned and developed.

I believe the “leaders are born” philosophy does a disservice to all those leaders who have spent years doing the work to make their leadership skills look “natural”. I believe that “leaders are born, not made” is a fixed mindset position and dissuades people who may not believe they have those innate skills from putting in the effort to learn and develop those skills.

I do not believe “You can be anything you want to be, anything to set your heart and intention to be”.  I also do not believe that leadership is about rank, position and title. Those things put you in a formal leadership position, they do not make you a leader. I do believe that everyone is in a position to lead, if they choose to do so. I also believe that we can all develop leadership skills and we can all continue to develop those skills to become a better leader if we are willing to do the work.

So, what do I believe regarding the question, “Are leaders born or made?” Now you know. You may not believe what I believe, and that is ok.

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey and it starts with you. Choose well, keep learning and enjoy the journey. The Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop was created for aspiring leaders and frontline leaders to help you on your leadership journey.

Brian Willis