Are Leaders Born or Made?

For centuries people have debated whether leaders are born or made. Several decades ago researchers started trying to answer the question. The debate goes on, even though we know the answer. It turns out to be a little of both. Leaders are sort of born and they're always made. Knowing the details will help you develop effective leaders for your company. Leaders are Sort of Born It seems like there's only one thing that a person needs to actually be born with in order to be a leader later in life. That's intelligence. A leader needs to be smart enough. Effective leaders aren't necessarily the smartest people in the room or the company or even on the team. But they have to be smart enough to do the job they're assigned. What's more important is what kind of person the potential leader is when he or she becomes an adult. The person who emerges from adolescence into young adulthood has the psychological and character traits they'll demonstrate for the rest of their life. Some of those matter for leadership. By the time a person becomes an adult we can tell if they can help other people achieve results. That, after all, is what we expect leaders to do. We expect them to achieve success through a group. We expect them to help their subordinates grow and develop. By the time a person becomes an adult, we can tell if they want to achieve objectives or if they just want to go along and take it easy. We expect leaders to be responsible for achieving results. You can have a marvelous life without a results focus, but if you're going to lead successfully you have to have the drive and willingness to be measured by the results of your leadership. By the time a person becomes an adult, we can tell if they are willing to make decisions or not. Lots of people wake up every day and let the world happen to them. But leaders must be able and willing to make decisions that affect themselves and others. By the time a person becomes an adult we can tell if they have the basic qualities that we expect leaders to have. We can determine if they're smart enough to do the job. We can tell if they are willing to help others to achieve results as a group. And we can tell if they will make decisions. Those things are essential. People who have them can learn the multiple skills it takes for them to become effective leaders. No matter how they measure up on the key essentials, no one emerges from the womb or from adolescence with all the skills in place to be an effective leader. Everybody has to learn the job. That's why leaders are always made.

Leaders are Always Made Leadership can be learned by anyone with the basics. But an awful lot of leadership cannot be taught. That's because leadership is an apprentice trade. Leaders learn about 80 percent of their craft on the job. They learn from watching other leaders and emulating their behavior. They choose role models and seek out mentors. They ask other leaders about how to handle situations. Leaders improve by getting feedback and using it. The best leaders seek feedback from their boss, their peers and their subordinates. Then they modify their behavior so that they get better results. Leaders learn by trying things out and then critiquing their performance. The only failure they recognize is the failure to learn from experience. In their book, Geeks and Geezers, Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas identify the special power of what they call "crucibles." These are trials which teach hard lessons that leaders use as the basis of their strength in later crises. Many of these events can be called "failures," but leaders turn the bad situation to good by learning from it. Effective leaders take control of their own development. They seek out training opportunities that will make a difference that will make a difference in their performance. Effective leaders look for training programs that will help them develop specific skills that they can use on the job. Then, they when they return to work, they devote specific, deliberate effort to mastering in real life what they learned in the classroom. Marshall Goldsmith and Howard Morgan studied the progress of 88,000 managers who had been to leadership development training. The people who returned from the training, talked about it, and did deliberate work to apply their learning were judged as becoming more effective leaders. The ones who didn't showed no improvement. If you're responsible for leadership development for your company, you should structure your support for your leaders to recognize that most leadership learning happens on the job. Help people develop leadership development plans. Help them select specific skills training and then work on transferring skills from the training to the job. Help them find role models, mentors and peers to discuss leadership issues. Help your leaders get feedback from their boss, peers and subordinates. Work to create the culture of candor that will make that feedback helpful and effective. Don't stop there. Make sure that you evaluate your leaders on their leadership work. Reward them and hold them accountable for accomplishing the mission through the group. And hold them accountable for caring for their people and helping them grow and develop. A Leader's Growth is Never Done

Leadership learning is a lifetime activity. You're never done because there's always more to learn. There are always skills you need to improve. Effective leaders seek out development opportunities that will help them learn new skills. Those might be project assignments or job changes. What they have in common is that the leader develops knowledge and skills that can be used elsewhere. Effective leaders also seek out opportunities that will increase their visibility. The fact is that great performance alone will not propel you to the top in your career. You also have to be visible to people who make decisions about promotions and assignments. If you're responsible for developing leaders in your company, set up programs to give your leaders both kinds of development opportunities over the course of their careers. There's no magic formula for developing quality leaders in your company. But if you select potential leaders with the essential traits, then support them with training, feedback, onthe-job learning and development experiences and hold them accountable for results, you'll have the leaders you need to shape your company's future. Wally Bock is an author, speaker, consultant and coach who helps leaders improve the performance and morale of their teams. Wally is the author of Performance Talk: The Oneon-One Part of Leadership and the Three Star Leadership Blog.

Leaders: Born or Made?

This is the most basic and most often-asked question about leadership. To cut to the chase, the answer is: ‗mostly made.' The best estimates offered by research is that leadership is about onethird born and two-thirds made. The job of leading an organization, a military unit, or a nation, and doing so effectively, is fantastically complex. This is the most basic and most often-asked question about leadership. To cut to the chase, the answer is: ‗mostly made.' The best estimates offered by research is that leadership is about onethird born and two-thirds made. The job of leading an organization, a military unit, or a nation, and doing so effectively, is fantastically complex. To expect that a person would be born with all of the tools needed to lead just doesn't make sense based on what we know about the complexity of social groups and processes.

The fact that leadership is mostly made is good news for those of us involved in leadership development - leaders can indeed be developed. Yet, there is some "raw material," some inborn characteristics, that predispose people to be and become leaders. What are some of the inborn qualities? Research suggests that extraversion is consistently associated with obtaining leadership positions and leader effectiveness. There is also some evidence that being bold, assertive, or risk-taking can

there is tremendous interest in leadership and in leader development. or ability to know followers. Johnson. M. Below are some resources for self-development.. Bernard Bass. Leadership Quarterly. Rotundo. 693706. & Kreuger. D. Arvey. 92. persons of average social intelligence. W. (2006). Leaders also need to be smart to analyze situations and figure out courses of action. intelligence is associated with leadership. J. 17. you can embark on your own leadership development program. Z. Rather than getting leadership development from a costly program or from your employer (development/training budgets have been cut deeply by the recession). As noted leadership scholar. 1-20... (2007). most of leadership is made. So. R. "The leader must be able to know what followers want. not born. and what prevents them from getting what they want. Journal of Applied Psychology. if you aspire to positions of leadership. R.. Avolio. Fortunately. A terrific guidebook to leader self-development is Bruce Avolio's Leadership Development in Balance: MADE/Born (Erlbaum. Zhang. So. and there has lately been a strong emphasis on the importance of self-development for leaders. 2005). D. Developmental and genetic determinants of leadership role occupancy among women. but social intelligence . Zhang. . & McGue.. noted. Remember. The research on born vs. M." Does this mean that introverts.. then the best course is to embark on a leader self-development plan. made was done with studies of identical twins: Arvey.is the component of intelligence that is important for leadership. is also advantageous for leaders (although much of this is learned). B. when they want it. made. Other good resources are available at the Center for Creative Leadership.F.be advantageous for leaders. R. Z. as well as references/links to the research on born vs. Finally..understanding of social situations and processes . or those of us who are not particularly empathic will not make good leaders? Certainly not. The determinants of leadership role occupancy: Genetic andpersonality factors. but perhaps not general IQ. some sort of empathy.

we have struggled with the whole notion of leadership. We hear organisations and companies say they have a leadership void. More like.Are Leaders Born or Made? Impact Factory runs tailored Leadership Programmes Open Leadership Courses and personalised One-to-One Executive Coaching for anyone who has. we keep getting hired to create leadership programmes of late. this is what I expect from everyone in the organisation to help us get there and any new ideas are welcome. Not necessarily micromanaged. or is about to have a Leadership Role Leadership Development . A leadership void usually means that people don't feel looked after.) if pie in the sky is all they are.And How do People Get It? Ever since we started Impact Factory. we could double our turnover in a year. When the 'vision' word is used it usually means that someone has an idea of what the future could look like and a plan to get there. No point painting rosy. but they want to know that there is someone at the helm who knows what they're doing and will let everyone know what's expected of them.to enrol them in their strategies and plans for the future. Indeed. for the most part. etc.Are Leaders Born or Made? Find the next available Open Leadership Development Course Leadership . Are there natural born leaders? Can you create a leader out of someone who isn't leadership material? And for heaven's sake just exactly what is leadership material? However. this is how we could get there. so we thought we'd better put a few of our thoughts and ideas down to clarify our perspective on this whole question of leadership. we'll create international markets. . they don't feel as though there's anyone truly in charge who knows what's going on. let's look at some of the qualities needed from a leader. Lo these many years ago. Or others who feel that if they only had stronger leadership everything would be all right. we'll be number one in the UK. we have resisted writing about it in much detail because the subject is so subjective. It's understandable. They obviously expect leaders to have vision and to be able to bring other people along with them . they don't feel seen and heard and most of all. people actually do want to be lead.Leadership Development . So even if we haven't yet fully dealt with the question of whether leaders are born or can be made. pie in the sky pictures (we'll double our turnover in a year.

You have to know who you are and accept that you have outstanding qualities .who you consider role models. think about what qualities those people have that are attractive to you. Seeing is clarity. How difficult did you find even thinking about that? We've asked people on leadership programmes to do that exercise and we are continually surprised when people say they don't have any role models. putting aside modesty. beliefs and patterns you have created in your life so far? Everyone's got 'em. These can be anyone from parents. So first rule of leadership . A leader may be humble (a good quality). patterns and beliefs you have.you should brush your teeth twice a day. places.There is one essential quality for anyone in any position of leadership: from running a company to running a church fete to running a home. or they can't think of anyone who influenced their lives. They can be the more complex kind . that make them inspiring. humour. flexibility. Make a list of all the people . To be able to see you need a clear understanding of what has made you the way you are and what has shaped and influenced your life. false or otherwise. How well do you understand the rules. think about what qualities they have that you also have. fictional characters. writers. compelling presence.you should treat everyone the way you expect to be treated (you know. places. things. composers. being articulate. etc. but modesty can get in the way of being effective. That quality is the ability to see what is going on. all those good qualities are going to be wasted. empathy. When you look at your list of role models. friends and teachers to fictional heroes. movie. So let's start with you. sport or pop stars. Yes. Why? Because they know themselves well enough to acknowledge who has supported and inspired them along the way. the clearer you will be able to see what is going on with other people. there are other qualities that are valuable: good communication. They can be the simple kind of rule . the do unto others type thing). . not of strength. Any good leader worth their salt should be able to name 100 people.I believe everyone should be fair. and what support they still need to get things done. integrity. this exercise is just to see how well you know your behaviour. And patterns can be as simple as going to and from work the same way every day. People who have inspired you. who get your creative juices going.you can't do it alone. We're not asking you to put a value judgement on whether they are good or bad rules and beliefs. Beliefs can be things like . paintings. Almost as though admitting that they were influenced is a sign of weakness. Seeing in the "wood for the trees" kind of way.real or fictional .leaders are able to do that. But if you can't see what is going on. artists. They almost want to give the impression that they sprang from Zeus's head fully formed instead of admitting that many things shaped them over the years. The clearer you are about what motivates and affects your behaviour. So the next exercise in the how well do you know yourself game is to make a list of all the rules. the ability to think on your feet. right off the bat. Now. Here's a little exercise you can do.

to see what else might come of it. You'll be able to see the whole picture not just your little bit of it. This is what we mean when we say that the more you know what motivates and drives you. The real leaders in every group we've run have had no problem breaking rules. there will be a kind of buzz around them.I couldn't do that! Their own beliefs and rules about how things should be done got in the way. Leaders need to be able to identify what the needs of the future are and create a new leadership model. Those who aren't natural leaders tended to get stuck at the same places time and again with the same refrain . On some of our workshops we run something called a 'creativity workout'. things might even get shaken up when they're around.that often others don't like. they found they couldn't or wouldn't shift enough of their patterns and rules to be able to ‘build a better mousetrap'. . More importantly. Here's why. and it requires them to be able to motivate others. out of the accepted or 'right' ways of doing things. What we mean. creating a bit of anarchy. Couple all of that with creative problem-solving and you have a person things happen around. They make mistakes. is that even of you don't think of yourself as a leader. Indeed. Now we can get to the seeing bit we mentioned earlier. which is all about rule-breaking and doing things differently. The culture of tomorrow will be one where change and innovation are the order of the day. you will have areas in your life where other people look to you for leadership. persistence. Leaders are people who don't usually follow the party line. What is needed is an ability to think and act 'out of the box'.you can't stay stuck. and trying out new things. things change when they're around. is that no matter what their personality. they get up people's noses sometimes. The reason we're asking you all these questions and having you think about all this stuff. indeed. It isn't always comfortable being around leaders.you need to know what makes you tick. Out of the box thinking and identifying future needs go hand in hand. Outstanding leadership requires much more than people being really good at their jobs: it requires innovative thinking. Here's what you'll be able to see if you do that: you'll be able to see things from other people's points of view. We've heard the following phrase from a number of people throughout the years and it's a good one . and they ended up not having quite as much fun either. You'll be able to see what other people are capable of and how to help them achieve it.So second rule of leadership . rather than just following the current leadership example. they make decisions . They have an edge to them. That's another thing leaders do . They say the things that need saying in a way that others understand. We're asking you to practise thinking like a leader.lots of them .get your attention off yourself and on to whatever is going on. you'll be able to understand what's going on for them.they get things done. determination and resilience. They have commitment. the more you can 'get out of the way'. it requires people making positive and inspiring impacts. 'can't do' is an alien concept. Third rule of leadership .

When someone is committed to. fit a mould.They don't mind conflict and indeed. not every leader is going to be a great leader in the sense that the world around them acknowledges their leader status. it is important to acknowledge that people developing their leadership skills are often hampered by their picture (or other people's picture) of what a leader is supposed to 'look' like. leaders will be experienced differently by the individual people they lead. then it's really possible to give these people a leadership boost. Good leaders don't conform to a template. nor should they. of course. If your prospective leader isn't fully engaged in the process. the doer. you cannot 'send' someone on a leadership programme that doesn't want to be there and expect them to become a leader. male. sending them along to be 'taught' leadership skills will be a waste of time and money. and they show a willingness to develop and take on new skills. However. Can you create a leader out of someone who isn't? Or is just that all leaders are born that way? There is a tendency. Great leaders don't. However. or there are greater expectations of how they manage people. they don't fit a mould!) but also has to be worked at with belief and will and determination by the person occupying it. Not only that. They put themselves in the line of fire. sometimes. only their personal satisfaction of a job well done. Also. another understanding. will be due to the leader's ability to see what each person needs. Now we know that isn't true. the inspirer and you've got yourself a leader. from church committees to local pressure groups to business teams to political parties. One getting encouragement. Try to cram them into one. create it in order to resolve difficulties. or they've become a project leader. the non-conformist. Many leaders get no 'public' recognition. . They're not always liked. Leadership can and does come in many different shapes and forms. There's a kind of unspoken template of what leadership is supposed to look like. Expect the unusual. This is when it's important to understand that the role of leader is not only completely individual (remember. In our view. in charge. That. and they'll burst out or leave. Everyone can develop their capacity to lead. in our Western culture. middle class. It's not like the reluctant presenter who gets sent along to a course and finds out that it's not so bad after all. and practises using their leadership capabilities at all levels in their life. the quirky. Creating or nurturing Leaders So back to the question we started with. when someone has to step into a new leadership role. to see Leadership as synonymous with white. to answer the question. then they can and will develop their own potential as a leader. So.

to develop you have to practise. These are the people to whom others look. . practise. Just like everyone else. I think much of the debate depends on how you define leadership. practise. While others believe that leadership. Are Great Leaders Born or Made? Some people believe that leaders are born with the necessary qualities that make them successful as a leader. But even born leaders have to hone and work at their leadership skills. born leaders. Defining Leadership Let’s assume leadership means having an ability and desire to inspire and influence others. stand up for what they believe. It's not something you 'arrive' at and that's it. For me. take risks. I would think that leaders do not have to be born as such. people want to hear what they have to say. there are indeed. a leader. If leadership means being courageous and willing to speak out for the betterment of those around you. like many other similar characteristics. Based on that definition. They're happy in the limelight (even if it's an uncomfortable place to be) and they do have 'vision'. they want to get things done and bring people along with them. They do have charisma.Having said all of that. you're there. I can certainly see the argument that leaders are born with leading qualities when I see my daughter using her inherent ability to influence her little brother (and sometimes her parents) to do the things she wants them to do. I have seen people who consider themselves introverts and overall followers become successful leaders when faced with an issue they are passionate about. can be learned and developed through life. they seem willing to be seen and heard. even from a very early age.

and you volunteer for an animal rescue group in your free time. Developing Leadership Aside from having a passion that translates into action. So what does all this mean? Anyone Can Be a Leader We all have areas of our lives where we have talent and propensity for success. community outreach. you may exude qualities that are absent from other areas of your life. With the support of several volunteers who are experienced in various areas (marketing. Possible? Absolutely. The group is planning a huge fundraiser but lacks the direction necessary to execute it effectively. Say you are an animal lover. If this is also an area you feel passionate about.If we define leadership as having atypical intelligence.). making decisions for a group and managing others. Without a leader in place. Let’s look at an example. etc. creativity and/or drive. but you feel so strongly about the need for the fundraiser that you are willing to overcome these challenges. the event is destined for failure. So while you may not be a natural born leader in the strictest sense. and your knowledge of the group and the background of the fundraiser. you successfully manage the group and event. there are several ways you can develop your own leadership skills:          Work on improving your communication ability. You may not be completely comfortable talking in front of others. event planning. especially your ability to listen to others Be willing to take risks Network and look for ways to expand your contacts Focus on working and living with integrity and respect for others Encourage those around you to find their own leadership qualities Be confident in yourself and your abilities Know your strengths and be ready to ask for support in areas where you are lacking Create a vision and share your vision to inspire others Think positively and commit to reaching your goals . although you may or may not continue to develop that trait through your life. you can certainly overcome many obstacles and develop a desire and ability to lead when you are inspired to do so. then I am back to believing that it’s a trait you’re born with.

. Bookmark the permalink. Well which is it? Even the theorists cannot agree. Born leaders seem to have the desired skill set naturally in their thought process like a person that can play music by ear without ever having had one lesson. These born leaders are come in various levels such as the informal leader in a group. In fact I will go a bit further. From this point. made.Developing Leaders How do Leaders Develop? → Is a leader born or made? Posted on September 10. Born leaders are often start off as recognized by a group of which they are a member as the “alpha” and are bestowed leadership by the other members in the group. My take may appear to be a cop out. 2007 by Ron Hurst Here is a question that is bound to stir up debate. I believe almost anyone could be a leader if they chose to and would pay the price of admission. How do Leaders Develop? → 6 Responses to Is a leader born or made? 1. many would agree. leadership development. So what do you think? Born… Made… or both This entry was posted in born vs.8 MILLION hits leadership development gets on Google. 2007 at 2:40 pm It is my opinion that leaders are made and born. born leaders further develop into future leaders hopefully acquiring the knowledge to become effective. Some say it can be taught and judging by the 1. you see I believe that leaders are born…and made. LeaderInTraining says: September 18.

2008 at 7:08 pm Hey Pixelhead I could not agree more. Charisma that elusive something that makes some leaders so magnetic is definitely not something that can be faked or learned. Ron Hurst says: January 23. 2008 at 2:57 pm Certainly some individuals are born with more leadership traits than others. 2008 at 8:32 am . I believe is not something that can be learned. asma says: May 10. The charisma that enables a natural born leader to become a world leader. 2. But then this is but one aspect effective leaders can leverage. The path to leadership is not always first clear to these individuals but rather develops through circumstances and the desire to succeed. Pixelhead says: January 23. The made leader usually has the ability to be flexible in order to learn the skill set necessary to become an effective leader. asma hamed al-siyabi says: May 10. Great comment! Ron 4.Made leaders often come to exist through experiences and often start as a manager but develop into leader. 3. 2008 at 8:16 am in my opinion leaders are made not born because to be a good leader you need more knowledge and different skills so when you do all these things you make your self by yours 5. some are born with more inherent leadership ability than others.

They seek out training opportunities that will make a difference that will make a difference in their performance. The best leaders seek feedback from their boss. well said. Effective leaders take control of their own development. . they when they return to work. They choose role models and seek out mentors. their peers and their subordinates. The book you mention Geeks and Geezers is fantastic. Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas identify the special power of what they call “crucibles. Then they modify their behavior so that they get better results. they devote specific. Ron Hurst says: May 11. 2008 at 6:30 am Asma Warren Bennis is one of my favorite leadership authors. But an awful lot of leadership cannot be taught. Leaders learn about 80 percent of their craft on the job. In their book. That’s because leadership is an apprentice trade. WE are tested by fire and those that stand the test and learn from it will be far better leaders for the effort. They learn from watching other leaders and emulating their behavior. They ask other leaders about how to handle situations.” These are trials which teach hard lessons that leaders use as the basis of their strength in later crises. Effective leaders look for training programs that will help them develop specific skills that they can use on the job. Then.” but leaders turn the bad situation to good by learning from it. Leaders learn by trying things out and then critiquing their performance.Hellllllllllllo every body. Leaders improve by getting feedback and using it. deliberate effort to mastering in real life what they learned in the classroom. 6. Geeks and Geezers. You have done a fine job of sharing the core story of the crucible. Leaders are Always Made Leadership can be learned by anyone with the basics. The only failure they recognize is the failure to learn from experience. Many of these events can be called “failures.

Are leaders born. Most employment interviews are cosmetic and can be manipulative. . Conversely. The right tools for the job How can your company identify a leader? Not by a resume or an interview. or nurture? The answer is both. the employer has lost a huge opportunity to benefit from those talents.with the right business tools Are leaders born. Some people are born leaders. The key is to identify these leaders before a crisis occurs. But which ones? And how will they show their leadership colors unless they are placed in the right environment? These questions are at the heart of strategic leadership planning for most companies. In some cases a company leader will surface only during a crisis. or made? Both. employers are looking for a more systematic means of identifying leaders to play key roles in their companies. Any employees with leadership potential who have not been identified for their capabilities early on have been cheated out of using all of their talents. Research shows that 98% of resumes contain some form of fraud. Creating leaders requires an effective system Today. If you don't have a contingency of leaders on staff and others primed to step up into leadership roles. Nurturing leaders takes more than luck or intuition. you will undoubtedly find yourself way behind the pack. You may already have many leaders within your company but don't recognize them as such. or made? Is leadership a function of nature. deception overstatement or misleading claim. large and small.

Another tool. Managers need leadership tools that give you the facts." King said. but if you don't have the road map or the tools you can't get where you want to go. vs." said John King."You can have a vision. ISO/QS Certification and Business Efficiency Testing. "Some companies are selecting people based on subjective criteria and throwing them into assignments with little direction and no accountability. Just as in sports. Keeping score with Business Efficiency Testing Do your local competitors pay more than you for raw materials? How long do they wait for payment from vendors." King said. When King talks about clarity he's referencing several systematic leadership tools including Activity Based Costing and Activity Based Management. All of these systems provide the employer with the clarity to better understand where their business is going. an alliance of professionalservices firms. then what? You need tools to identify leaders. "After you share your vision and show off your charisma. your own cash flow? Do they pay higher or lower salaries than you? . business teams that select the best players and give them the best tools will win. with clarity. provides a clear picture of what employees are doing (or should be doing)! Beyond visionary charisma "Leadership is more than being a visionary and having charisma. president of the statewide Roster Network. or should be going. called the Position Matrix. That's like the sand-lot baseball games we played as kids. train them and hold them accountable." Many companies encounter problems because they lack performance measurements and documentation on which to base key leadership decisions. It begins with tracking your progress against your competition. and you can't lead.

if you are underpaying or overpaying people in similar jobs. The system is at work in literally thousands of companies today and has been continually refined and enhanced. Another tool is the Position Matrix. When every employee is working on goals consistent with the goals of their supervisor. which provides employees with clear job descriptions and ties their performance goals to the goals of their supervisor. you need to know that too. but for business leaders to stay competitive." King said." King said. Likewise. a process that gathers competitive cost data to give you a benchmark for your own company's performance. and the winners will be the companies that have the better tools! . It will take empowered employees with phenomenal leadership skills." The process also has built-in performance mechanisms to identify potential leaders and give them goals to demonstrate their potential. "That's crucial. throughout the organization. "The data is easy to obtain and can be priceless. Tying employees' goals to their supervisors' goals So Business Efficiency Testing is a good way to keep score and step out of Sand-Lot Business. if your competitors are getting a better deal from the same suppliers. you'd like to know that.These answers can be obtained through Business Efficiency Testing. "That's how you make a vision a reality. There will continue to be a lot of Sand-Lot Businesses in the future. it will take a lot more than making decisions on the fly. For example. you've got real momentum to get things done.

suggesting a large overlap in the underlying genes responsible for the leadership dimensions. as are two higher level factors (resembling transactional and transformational leadership)derived from anobliquely rotated principal components factors analysis of the MLQ. and so it follows that if there are reliable personality trait differences between leaders and non-leaders. Multivariate analyses indicatedthat most ofthe variables studiedshared substantial genetic covariance. the Leadership Ability Evaluation. behavior genetics. Results indicated that most of the leadership dimensions examined in this study are heritable.Nature vs nurture: Are leaders born or made? A behavior genetic investigation of leadership style Keywords: leadership style. . The present study proposes to address the lack of research in this area by examining the heritability of leadership style. transactional leadership. Individual differences in personality traits have been found to be moderately to highly heritable. there are no studies of the genetic basis of leadership using modern behavior genetic methodology. Despite this connection between leadership and personality traits. Univariate analyses suggested that 48% of the variance in transactional leadership may be explained by additive heritability. it is timely to consider the genetic determination of the multiple factors comprising the leadership construct. as measured by self-report psychometric inventories. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ). and the Adjective Checklist were completed by 247 adult twin pairs (183 monozygotic and 64 samesex dizygotic). and 59% of the variance in transformational leadership may be explained by non-additive (dominance) heritability. then there may be a heritable component to these individual differences. heritability Abstract With the recent resurgence in popularity of trait theories of leadership. transformational leadership. however.

all leaders. Let’s stop wasting time debating whether leaders are born or made. effort and desire. Leadership acumen can most certainly be taught. individuals who lacked domain expertise acquire it. team captains. and that they are willing to apply those skills for the benefit of those they lead. and focus on how to help them be better leaders regardless of how they arrived. and since you’ll be judged for your choice. what’s the answer? Both – some people are born with innate qualities that predispose them to being leaders. Leaders who rest on their laurels without making the effort to develop their skills will eventually be overtaken by those who view leadership as a professional skill to be developed and refined. Moreover. I would actually like to put this useless debate to bed once and for all. and it can also be ingrained in those willing to put forth the effort. They were your class presidents. So. and the people who held virtually all the available leadership positions you can imagine early in life. and other people while not naturally gifted with leadership ability can acquire it. as opposed to defending a particular position to suit our needs. and as a caution to those who are natural leaders. the arrogant develop an authentic sense of humility. we’ve all also known individuals who while perhaps not naturally gifted leaders. but what you do with it that matters. But that’s never stopped me before…so for my part. no single right way to lead. As they old saying goes. we’ve all known born leaders…They are those affable individuals that posses charisma and presence combined with the ability to make good decisions that people have flocked to since an early age. can improve their ability with desire. or accepted leadership responsibility. It only matters that they possess the requisite skills for the job. everything else can be developed. natural ability will only take you so far. the only things that keep someone from becoming a sound leader are a lack of character. Before we move on.” Every person has to decide for themselves whether they’ll be an underachiever or a person who excels. either fell into. club leaders. the greedy become giving. born or made. Remember that there is no perfect leader. You see. If those three qualities are present. the foolish become discerning and wise. I’ve personally witnessed the shy and introverted develop presence. They were the born leaders we all grew up with. most people are so entrenched in their beliefs that no amount of reason or logic will alter their opinions. They were those unflappable individuals that seemed to just have that “it” factor. and no one-size-fits-all formula for leadership. Moving on. my suggestion would be to choose wisely. experience and effort. people who were ego centric transition into servant leaders and the list could go on… Bottom line: It is not how a leader comes by their skill that is relevant. people who struggled with decision making learn solid decisioning skills. . and worked diligently to develop themselves into highly effective leaders. If we’re to be honest with ourselves. “it’s not what you’ve been given.Blogging Innovation Leaders – Born or Made? Leaders: born or made? While there is a very simple answer to this question.

A person with this trait has a strong belief in himself. These 2 characteristics are innate and are part of one‘s personality and therefore. Theconfidence comes from within and he truly believes that come what may. it is not enough. Another term that comes to mind is selfefficacy. and not made because of two characteristics which are only peculiar to leaders. Why do I say that? Before going further. In it he proposes that a leader is born. he is able to handle it. Warren Bennis (a leading leadership researcher) believes that one cannot be taught to become a leader but one can learn to become a leader over the years through life and work experiences. The first trait is optimism or having an optimistic outlook. regardless of what life throws at him. The second trait is what he calls ego or self-assurance. by marshalling whatever resources. I believe that we are not only highly adaptable and flexible. but have . There is another form of leadership which is not about the position. although you can see that being optimistic helps and reinforces one‘s sense of selfbelief. While it helps. With this disposition. What is important to note about self-efficacy is the belief that one can control one‘s destiny. through mentors. not whether one actually can or is successful in controlling what happens. etc. lets define it as someone with formal leadership authority in an organization. It‘s a great read – I highly recommend it. he believes that he would be able to overcome the problem. but we will not delve into that for now. Are leaders made or are they born? My belief on this – I believe that a leader is made.Are leaders made or are leaders born? 76 rate or flag this pageTweet this BY TRUEXPRESSION The age old question. one believes that challenges can be overcome and they can forge ahead. Great Leading and Sustained Individual Success‖. Self-assurance is not the same as being optimistic. Marcus Buckingham wrote a very interesting and widely informative book called ―The One thing you need to know… about Great Managing. not born. one cannot learn to develop such character traits. it does not mean that someone can be taught to become a leader by attending leadership courses. Are leaders born or are they made? The question is. creativity and connections available to him. always focusing on the possibilities. Even if he doesn‘t have the answers now. lets be clear on one distinction – when we say a leader is made. What is a leader by the way? For the purpose of this discussion. personal reflection. but a quality. are these 2 traits really innate and cannot be developed? Marcus Buckingham believes so but I beg to differ.

As a side point on the topic of optimism. are simply fixed traits. The research of Dr. but what‘s more important and makes the difference in our long-term success & accomplishments is our mindset. Sure. genetics play a part and you can‘t change that. Dr Dweck proved that they‘re wrong. Carol Dweck lends strong support to this. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. evidence from decades of research by Dr Martin Seligman shows that people can learn to be optimistic. In a fixed mindset. For example. This is another book (it‘s called Mindset) that I highly recommend because it truly has the power to change the way you look at yourself and others! So. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. People with a growth mindset (versus a person with a fixed mindset) believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. . Virtually all great people have had these qualities.the potential to do anything if we set our minds to it. if I‘m aware that I am not optimistic enough and tend to think of the downside more often than the upside. people believe their basic qualities. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. In summary. The topic is examined in great depth in his bestseller "Learned Optimism‖ – another excellent book I would recommend as well. like their intelligence or talent. what this means is that qualities like optimism and self –efficacy can be developed if one adopts a growth mindset. I would reiterate that while there are natual born leaders. I can learn to become more optimistic because I know doing so helps strengthen that leadership trait in me. leaders can indeed be ―made‖ or developed if one adopts a growth oriented mindset.

. setting direction can range from establishing strategic direction for the corporation to setting daily production goals for a team or individuals. While no predictive model exists. Volumes of research have been written. The topic of leadership remains elusive. Secondly. However. Developing some clarity about the "born-or-made?" debate is essential to a discussion of leadership training. genetics and early family experiences play the significant role in developing the personality and character needs that motivate the individual to lead. Maltby. we know something about "what leads to leadership. Jay Conger follows John Kotter's lead by defining leadership with three dimensions: Leaders are individuals who establish direction for a working group of individuals. a leader need not exercise all three elements to be a leader in the eyes of others. They also contribute to the development of the intellectual and interpersonal skills necessary to lead. some of the contributing factors or origins of leadership have become clearer with 50 years or more of study. Ph.D. The current consensus is that it is both. who gain commitment from these group members to this direction. For example.M ASTER OF A RTS IN O RGANIZATIONAL L EADERSHI P LEADERS: Born or Made? The State of Leadership Theory and Training Today Daniel E. But there is little to no conclusive evidence either way. and who then motivate these members to achieve the direction's outcomes." One difficulty in discussing the topic is definition. This definition is broad enough to allow for a wide variety of leader behavior. Are leaders born or made? This question continues to dominate the study of leadership today. Burt Nanus and Warren Bennis report some three hundred and fifty definitions of "leadership" that leadership researchers have generated over the last thirty years. Leaders can be found all over organizations fulfilling one or all of these roles. In a majority of cases.

It appears that many gifted .are contingent on the motivational desire of the candidates. education. (6) attendance at meetings outside a person's core responsibility. hardship. while success bred confidence and an understanding of one's distinct skills. Current research suggests that experiences on the job play an important catalytic role in unlocking leader behavior. He specifically identified the following as important developmental opportunities: (1) challenging assignments early in a career. shaped by later life experiences and opportunity. role models and mentors all go together to craft a leader. Opportunity cannot be overlooked. Conger and others in the "leadership is learned" (to some degree) school see opportunity in two lights. (7) special development jobs (executive assistant jobs. and leadership. The lack of needed leaders is a reflection of neglected development. This mix set the stage for leadership ability to take hold. making mistakes and improving with time.whatever their structure or intensity . toughness. (2) visible leadership role models who were either very good or very bad. a sense of independence. (3) assignments that broadened knowledge and experience. rather than a dearth of abilities. and (9) formal training programs. Diversity in experiences developed breadth and different bosses modeled values and taught key lessons. There seems to be no substitute for learning through doing. to take risks and to learn from their successes and failures. From these studies certain types of work experiences emerge as the primary developmental forces behind leadership. Thus. There is the opportunity of unforseeable circumstances mentioned above and there is the opportunity that can be designed and managed by those responsible for leader development. But he cautions that the best designed programs of leadership development .But the majority of researchers today believe that the origins of leadership go beyond genes and family to other sources. He concluded that early in their careers his leaders had opportunities to lead. leadership must still be understood as a complex equation of birth and early childhood factors. For example. (5) mentoring or coaching from senior executives. opportunity. Work experiences. persistence. challenging and multifunctional work assignments taught self-confidence. skill in managing relationships. Kotter surveyed two hundred executives at highly successful companies and interviewed twelve individuals in depth. (8) special projects. An important assumption in this theory is that the raw material essential in people in order to lead is not scarce. knowledge of the business. Frequently circumstances beyond all of the players' control led to opportunity for leadership to emerge. (4) task force assignments. Hardship taught personal limits and strengths.

the rewards too small and they settle for something else.S. and self-esteem. training must be designed to (1) develop and refine certain of the teachable skills. interests. But to be successful. the timing not right. (3) personal growth experiences. .leaders choose not to lead when given the opportunity. The leadership training programs now available throughout the U. Each of the leading companies providing leadership development seems to emphasize one of the following four factors over the others (though all tend to include some aspects of the other three as well): (1) leadership skills development. and (4) help managers see and move beyond their interpersonal blocks. (3) tap individuals' personal needs. in Organizational Leadership is designed to incorporate all four of these leadership development emphases while it focuses on those elements of leadership that can most effectively be taught in a highly dynamic university setting. (and the world) can be broken down into a similar four emphases. (2) conceptual thinking.A. (2) improve the conceptual abilities of managers. The price is too great. Biola University's M. Elements of leadership can be taught. or (4) feedback.

our families. not made. And so when we hear people saying this or that about leadership. It’s the voice within us that calls out and says. And that’s unfortunate. Leadership is developed by learning and refining a set of skills – skills that anyone. can learn and develop. And it’s what gives direction to individuals and organizations.‖ ―Leaders are born. our communities.” ver heard these? Or perhaps even said them yourself ? You’re not alone. “Why me? Why do I need to be a leader?” Because deep down inside. After all … What’s more important than helping others do a good job at work and getting enjoyment from it? . and our country. Without leadership. It seems like everyone has something to say about leadership – even if what they’re saying is based on misunderstanding and misconception. So what is leadership? Leadership is the behavior we exert when we take responsibility for our actions and their consequences. Sometimes we accept ideas as facts and let them rule our hearts and our behaviors without taking the time to really think about them. the truth is that leaders are made. You may be asking.” “All bosses are leaders. not made. including you and me. I’m not in charge. we are lost. we all want to make a positive difference in our lives in ways that make our world a better place. not born. It’s what separates the doers from the observers.” “I don’t need to be a leader. we may be tempted to just accept it as the truth.―All bosses are leaders. because leadership is something we all need more of in our lives … in our workplaces. “Take charge!” It’s the challenge we face when we assume responsibility for guiding others. E Despite the old adage.” “Leadership? That means having to pick up the slack that results from everyone else’s mistakes.‖ “Leadership is management’s job. Leadership is often the difference between success and failure.” “Leaders are born.

and in the process. yourself. and you’ll probably get a hundred different answers. These behaviors will enable you to turn good intentions into action. 180 Ways To Walk The Leadership Talk will give you practical ideas and strategies to lead yourself and others for the benefit of the group.D. and your children? What makes a good leader? Ask a hundred different people. the team. almost all of the attributes commonly cited for an effective leader have one central theme: Another truism is that leadership is not just management’s job.What’s more important than teaching others about the business so they (and you) will be more successful? What’s more important than following through on your commitments to the people with whom you work? What’s more important than setting a good example for others to follow including your coworkers. you’ll find a number of action-oriented behaviors that you can implement yourself. or position.E. bring out the special leader that’s inside of you.R.E. your friends. You will discover six important things that all leaders do: Listen and Learn from others Energize the organization Act for the benefit of everyone Develop themselves and others Empower others to lead Recognize achievement. My hope is that 180 Ways To Walk The Leadership Talk will be your guide to creating. income.A. and your business. But one thing’s for sure. headings. education. n n n n working with others. it’s everyone’s responsibility regardless of birth. and living the leadership example in your work life and in your personal life. or share with people around you. Under each of the L. implementing. .

Read on. – Albert Schweitzer . Lead on! LE ADE R Example is leadership.

the more they must deal with high-caliber people who know how to get what they want. you must continuously make choices that will affect other people‘s money and lives. sometimes. For executives trying to assess their leadership potential. which begets bad answers. to determine that of others.Forbes India . it is to gauge their own leadership potential. Question 1: How far do you want to go? To reach higher office and to fulfill the obligations of higher office. who are difficult. Also. the further executives advance in leadership. Actually. namely the degree of responsibility sought. And you will be doing this in a context where other people will want your position or will be competing with you for the next higher role. . and even easier to fantasize about how we would do it better. notably intelligence and physical energy. As many decades of leadership writing shows.Are Leaders Born or Made? Are leadership qualities innate or acquired? The above is a question that has obsessed many leadership scholars over the years and is often posed by executives in development programs. Yet ―born or made?‖ is a bad a question for such assessments because it gets executives focused on the wrong topics – such as which dispositions are fixed and which behaviors are amenable to change. we propose instead three critical questions. Indeed. Understandably. especially for aspiring leaders. complex and conflictual. Here‘s our response – it‘s a bad question. The playing field. it is the leader‘s job to shape these choices. given adequate amounts of key personal characteristics. the question illuminates little. strong-willed and who have a sharp appetite for power. as it fails to deal with a basic point. So why do executives even concern themselves with this question? Often. this is a question that cannot yield a satisfactory response. the line taken by management educators tends to be that most leadership qualities can be developed. It is easy to criticize the competence of those with greater responsibilities than ourselves. But the fact is that you do not know what you are born with until you try very hard to express it. the boundaries and the rules become less certain. What level of leadership responsibility does the person aspire to? The highest levels of leadership responsibilities present tasks that are massive.

As a leader you must take people where they have never been before – in thought and action – often against their initial preferences. We meet too many ―high potentials‖ who aspire to high leadership. Get a feel for the gap between how you spend your time and the time. technical capabilities and cultural sensibilities. stretch even further and take the most senior leader in your line of sight – perhaps the CEO – and educate yourself about what that person must deal with. Question 3: How will you keep it up? Over several decades. But until you let go of the hooks that tie you to your own past. there will be implications for aspects of your personal life – raising questions not so much of ―work-life balance‖ in the short-term but rather of finding a ―workable mix‖ over the long-term.Many people who aspire to senior leadership simply underestimate the degree and kinds of effort required to take on those responsibilities. Question 2: What are you willing to invest? Aspiring leaders can delude themselves about their strengths and the extent of their limitations. you won‘t be able to go new places either. and to generate new behaviors. But if you are serious about wanting to lead. there will be pleasures that you must give up. exercise and retain power. or do not enjoy doing? What do you enjoy now. the appetite for power is a necessary condition for reaching positions of high responsibility. While it has bad connotations for some people. you need methods to keep yourself going when you are not being recognized and rewarded for your performances – and to deal with criticism. the brutal reality is that whatever else a leader must do. What would it take to be CEO of your company? What would you have to do that you now cannot do. energy and capabilities required to do those jobs. Then. This breeds a sense of entitlement that is incompatible with the necessity to fight for leadership power. Certainly. but above all. Also. setbacks and people disliking you or what you are asking them to do. . it is about power. or better. a leader must gain. but are used to rewards for being bright and creative. While this point is upsetting to some people. The work of leadership certainly requires business smarts. And there are constraining beliefs to overcome that limit your capacity to see things as they actually are. resistance. but would have to give up? We see too many executives who set themselves up to fail by lack of valid assessment of the role they are pursuing in comparison to their true capabilities. you face tough choices about how much effort you must put in and in which areas – in order to grow the capabilities that enable the exercise of extreme responsibility. A useful exercise: Look at your immediate boss‘ job and honestly ask if you could do it as well. The realization that you have significant limitations can be hard to digest.

Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) and the Program for Executive Development (PED). your emotional flexibility and your intellectual reach and freshness. then you must find effective methods for maintaining your physical vitality. indeed extreme circumstances. The important questions are: what are your current assets and what are you willing to do – or to sacrifice – to attain leadership at the highest level you can? Preston Bottger is Professor of Leadership and General Management at IMD. you should take fright at how much work there is devising methods for managing novel situations. senior executives must create time-out to review where they are investing their time and energy. As they do the hard work of leadership.The assessment of the costs of leadership is not a one-off event. Management educators might be right that leadership is learnable. The most significant leadership question is not ―born or made?‖. So periodically. 20 or even 30 years of leadership work. If you envisage another 10. to ensure that they remain capable of generating new behaviors to deal with new challenges. But instead of taking comfort in the idea that you can develop. He teaches on the following programs: Leading the Global Enterprise (LGE). . many people become more closed and set in the ways that have brought them success so far.

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