Are Leaders Born or Made?



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Leadership > Best Practices > Are Leaders Born or Made?

Are Leaders Born or Made?
Manoj G, India, Member
Related Learning
Managers: Born or Made?
Hello everybody, what is your opinion: is leadership a god-given gift which comes naturally with birth, or can it be gathered and learned after some age?
In other words, is leadership development a matter of Nature or Nurture?

Leaders are NOT Born
Patrick Patrong
To say that Leaders are born, would also say that criminals are also born. Leadership like most attributes are learned behavior. True, some have these learning experiences earlier in life and as a result have more practice. Yet, other have been practicing leadership skills, without a formal definition of leadership.

Leaders CAN be made...
Mellacheruvu Adi Saasthry , Director, India, Premium Member
Leaders can certainly be made and one should possess the following things to become a leader:
- Charisma,
- Consideration
- Intellectual Stimulation
- Courage
- Dependability
- Flexibility
- Integrity
- Judgement
- Respect for others

Leaders: born or made? The Confidence to Stand Up
Jay Watson
A leader is born out of the circumstances surrounding the problem. You can train and groom anyone for anything. If they're unwilling to stand up and take the consequences of their actions however, they won't lead. Leaders are usually those who have the best skill set fit for the given issue that feel the most confident to lead (relatively speaking about those around them). It doesn't matter how they got the confidence to do so, it only matters that they can demonstrate to others that they do.

Leadership is mostly born, but can be refined
Sandeep Pathak
I strongly believe that leadership is sure a born gift. One may attempt to develop it, but a natural leader is the only effective leader. I would hesitate to recommend learning leadership as a course, one may only refine the skills.
During our class projects, sometimes the project leaders were picked up at random. In all such teams where the so called team leaders were not the "leaders", it ended up with a poor output. You can not make somebody to lead. To lead requires certain inbuilt characteristics. How come one may learn to sacrifice? How come one may learn to be visionary? It is not possible.
Have you ever noticed when children play the game of teacher and students, why only one or two prefer to become the teacher, not all? There lies the answer. To lead is a passion, and it is better if it is by heart and natural.

Anyone can Lead if they have the PASSION
Daryl Cowie
Absolutely anyone can learn to lead... if they really want to. I think 2 things can make a leader out of anyone, and you can easily find examples of unlikely heros and leaders all around:
- First you need to really care about the cause you are leading (everyone is passionate about something - but you need to find it).
- Second there are some skills you need to learn, and don't ever let anyone tell you you cannot learn them and learn them well.
Don't get stuck on one idea of what a great leader is. There are many leadership styles, including also charismatic motivating leaders, commanding directing leaders, empathetic collaberative leaders and analytical leaders who are followed because of their undeniable proof of results.
Randomly chosen leaders for school and work projects fail, because they lack passion about the project, not because they are missing the leadership gene.

Leadership: some are more talented than others...
Paul Robbins
Like physical skills cognitive skills can be developed to make individuals successful in life including leadership. However some individuals are born with more talent than others. There there will be variance in leadership ability which is a mixture of talent and developed skills. A good read is Malcolm Gladwell's "The Outliers" and "Blink" in this aspect. Regards

Leaders are made and born
Sherry Lambrecht
Good leaders normally have to have a leadership quality or instinct. The rest is old fashion hard knocks, learning from your mistakes, and what is done with that information.

Leadership is not a Born Gift
Fakhra Naeem, Professor, India, Member
Leadership is not a born gift it is more based on the traits, experience, learning and the perception. Leadership is an art or a skill to get the things done accurately and timely.
Leadership is a style of influencing others and convince them to follow you. It is basically more of an individual approach that means how a person perceives the things and use his/her skills.

M.Ganapathy, Manager, Sri Lanka, Member
Leaders are by birth (political), but good leaders are by good practice (to lead others towards good). Don't get confused.

True leaders have the best of both worlds
Gerard Gielkens
True leadership is a golden combination of natural skills by birth and a life-long training of these competencies.
Everyone has his own competencies by birth which are nursed and developed in the first period of childhood. That explains why people without these natural competences don't develop true leadership even if they follow all courses on leadership, and some people are great leaders without any training.
Therefore, in my opinion true leadership is a combination of natural competences regarding cognition and intuition combined with a continuous process of learning by experience and reflection.

Define Leadership
Lem Usita
I guess it all depends on how you define leadership. I think it is possible for either. I would say that someone who is born a leader and is able to develop their leadership skills is in a good spot, but depending on how you define leadership - everyone can lead and is a leader.

Leaders Can Be Created in Suitable Situations
Hafeez Anwar Qureshi, Business Consultant, Pakistan, Member
I was a simple person in the society, and didn't know about leaders & leadership. My teachers gave me an opportunity and now I am leader and love to lead with my knowledge, experience, skills and qualities.
I can now create leaders within 4-6 months. Sometimes you can find leaders that were born, but mostly they were provided suitable situations to become a leader.

From Transformational Leadership to Transcendent Leadership
Pam Boney
My current belief is that there are qualities of leadership that can be innate, such as natural charisma and a strong internal locus of control. Unbridled this can lead to Transformational Leadership which can certainly achieve exponential results. The problem with it is that if character and self-transcendence are not developed, then the leader may lead large populations astray with a very negative consequence. (ie Maddoff).
So, for this reason, I define exemplary leadership as something that is developed through character and will and the outcomes of which are positive. This MUST be developed and can be done by anyone who steps up to the plate to lead. I am proposing a new leadership formula called Transcendent Leadership including balance in the Four Pillars of Leadership: Self, Others, Organization and Community which must be balanced for positive outcomes.

Leadership is Developed and Tested through Time
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
I think leadership qualities are tested through time. It takes experimentation with ideas and the willingness to follow through and follow up, then keep up with the maintenance with ongoing evolutionary changes. You develop confidence to try more delegation, discern priorities and understand you must do and what you can do without.
Leaders have to learn to persuade, delegate, and dictate when the situation arises. It's a plate spinning act that I have always enjoyed.
At an early age I learned that if I wanted something to happen, no one would step up, then it was my opportunity to make something happen. It may have started with a selfish desire, but it led to a lifetime of stepping up to the plate. I would have rather had some control than turn over total control to someone else who may not have my shared passion or vision of the end result.
You also have to not be afraid to try and fail. You learn skills that build and build to make you better every time you try.

Leaders, Born (20) and Made (80)
Bomison Hamidu
I believe there is no definite or pinpoint answer. It is true that Leadership is a learning process and that it is learnt and developed. It is also true that good leaders must also demonstrate a level of emotional balance in their dealings. Emotional traits are partly inherited and born with.
For instance, an emotional and angry leader cannot be said to be an effective leader because you might lose out the "friendship" and confidence of some of your team members and therefore would not be leading an efficient team. In my opinion therefore, the two must blend.
It is also worth noting that a born leader cannot necessarily be an effective or good leader. There are other leadership capabilities and knowledge that has to be learned as well. If I have to take a stand between the two (born or made) then it has to be 20/80. However, I strongly feel that both are required to be an effective and efficient leader.

Leaders are Shaped by Persistence
Leaders are NOT BORN, its the persistence and perseverance over time that modulates and shapes them.

Born Leaders are Different from Made Leaders
Ahmed Ali, Director, Saudi Arabia, Member
Born Leaders are different than Made Leaders in the sense that they leave remarkable history behind them.
Read about all great world leaders, good or bad, they were leaders from the onset of their life journey

Leadership based on Dominance
Wiegmans, Business Consultant, Netherlands, Member
My answer on this question is both biological as psychological. One of the most prominent characteristics of leaders is their dominance.
For better or for worse, every leader has the believe he/she has to change or control the context. Biological research tells us that this dominance is more then 90% inherited, you get it from mum and dad.
What you do with this genes is based on experience, learning, education, training. I simply don't believe in all these new age hocus pocus like transformational cq transcendent trends. A leader leads, based on his/her vision.

Leadership, Born or Created
Leyla Is, Management Consultant, Sweden, Member
Im a student and weve been overwhelmed with leadership theories, how to be the best leader and make change... But I think people should focus on how good leaders have been in the past, and learn from them. The most important thing is you cant create a good leader. There are some biological skills you must have from birth. Of course you can be a better leader with more knowledge... I agree with @Wiegmans theory.

Can Leadership Be Generated or is it a Born Gift
Frederick Price, Philippines, Member
The textbooks say leadership comes from heredity and environment. I do not agree. It is an inborn trait. If a leader is not so born, then the environment aspect will not really matter. Can I back this up? Well, my grandfather was an army colonel who told people what to do. I am a doctor and soon to be CEO. I tell people what to do as well, but responsibly. And all of us have seen non-leaders, people who need to be told what to do. It takes both types to run a company successfully.

The Question - are Leaders Born or Made?
Daniel Mitchell
I think there are personality and even physical traits (eg. Height) that seem to bestow leader-like qualities on some. Some people have all the "stuff" of leadership, but through their actions they lose whatever goodwill others had for them. And some become great ones almost in spite of themselves (Darwin Smith, former CEO of Kimberly-Clark).
To me, leadership is an important aspect of what it means to be a well-rounded manager. Have you ever seen a good manager who cannot lead? How about someone who leads without managing? Think of people who're great at visioning but don't have a clue about how to manage major corporate turning points like mergers or change. Mintzberg says, "instead of distinguishing managers from leaders, we should be seeing managers as leaders, and leadership as management practiced well." I, for one, agree.

Top Leadership is Inborn
achintya sarkar
If we talk about leadership quality, some part of it can be inculcated some are inborn. But one cannot become a Level-5 Leader without inborn traits.

Frederick Price, Philippines, Member
I completely agree with you. You either have it, or you don't. And if you don't have it, no amount of study or work will give it to you.

Leadership Quality Partly Inborn: Situations make you a Leader
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
Some people like to lead, others like to follow. Sometimes leaders emerge from followers based on the mere fact of not being able to survive the outcomes of the present direction. It's a matter of sometimes being in the situation "if I don't do it--no one will". Leaders take risks because of many reasons. No one else will expend the energy or become vulnerable to taking charge of a flailing objective. It is a scary land mine filled situation at times, and you have to be aware of the consequences. But if you feel that you have a great deal at stake--you will step up and become a leader even if it's de facto. Situations make you a leader even if you may not ascribe to being one. Leadership by example can be a positive or negative. Inaction is also leadership of a form. Everyone watches everyone else for direction. In any situation in life, someone will emerge as a leader.

Frederick Price, Philippines, Member
I would say that some are born to lead, but most to follow. If a leader arises up out of the rabble, then that person was already a leader to begin with. A follower will simply sit there with crowd which is not doing anything.
Yes, leadership can be scary. Imagine trying to save a man's life when you have never done it before. But it had to be done. No options; no time for a SWOT. So I did it. And, I was successful.

Fear of Showing Leadership
Leyla Is, Management Consultant, Sweden, Member
Finally we all agree about the biological skills which are very important for a real and good leader, but there is a good point that even if you have education, inborn skills and you are a leader today but you are afraid of leading your people then you have failure as several leaders in Sweden are afraid of showing that they are the leaders not the staff.
The leadership in Sweden is mostly weak and discreet, Ive compared it with other Nordic countries and in Asia. Inthose countries leadership is more visible, even if they havent the inborn skills.

Effect Culture on Leadership
Frederick Price, Philippines, Member
I think your people do have the skills. But the culture gets in the way. Leadership is normally distributed, so some in your country should have it. But perhaps they choose not to use it. In my opinion, most Europeans are more reserved than most Americans. We tend to be bold and brash. That's the way I do things much of the time.

Leadership is Learned
Casimir Vital, Manager, United States, Member
Leadership is learned. Anyone can do it but the issue is whether the person will act upon the training and knowledge when the time comes. There is no genetic marker for leadership it is situation and reaction. And further more the skill and quality of leadership is determined by the flawed opinions of others and the sometimes overly harsh judgement of the individual them self.

Can Leadership Be Born or Generated After Some Age?
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
Leaders are everywhere within all of us.
If the fear of leading overrides the willingness to take on the responsibilities then we are followers. If leadership serves you well, then you lead, if it doesn't we are more willing to let someone else take the helm.
No one wants to be a loser, therefore leadership is not always apparent in certain seemingly "no-win" situations.
Take Patton, for example. He was given a task where he had to put men in a terrible situation during WWII, and he knew they would probably lose. He took on the responsibility and went among the troops and encouraged them, and inspired them to lead a winning battle against all odds. He was controversial and a butt-head as a person, but as an inspirational leader to his men he was one of the greats. Its a lesson for us all. There is a goal that is greater than ourselves in most everything we do. How to inspire is one of the great talents and takes knowledge of human nature and how to gain respect and inspire great things in others.

Why do Some Want to Lead???
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
I think there has to be an underlying sense of impatience demonstrated by leaders. Impatience at seeing nothing substantive happening.
As a child, no one is making decisions about what game to play, someone takes charge and picks a game that everyone buys into or the group disbands and goes home. The same illustration can be made about leadership on a daily basis.
A group is given a challenge-it's thrown on the table for anyone to pick up, no one does for a few minutes, then all of a sudden, someone says-"I'll do it". What makes them take on that decision? Maybe they're tired of complacency, maybe they just want their boss to get off their backs, maybe if they do it they'll make more money, maybe they'll do it but with major concessions about lightening their load on other projects. Maybe they'll co-lead and divide the leadership responsibilities to lighten the load. Maybe they just want the credit for leading another project to put a feather in their cap. It's all about what a person wants.
A leader is born when the act of leading has a great impact on your future endeavors, being a follower would get you nowhere. Have faith in yourself, faith in others, follow through on tasks, work along side on things and get reports on progress, then evaluate the process, you have become a leader.
You don't have to lead all the time. A leader is not always the boss. That's what's so great about it. You get "street cred". You lead by example.
People have to see it. If they don't see your ability, then you'll have to let them know just what you did. Toot your horn a little.

Managers versus Leaders
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
Effective managers will spot the leaders in their midst. That lightens their load. If they engage the leaders, communicate the vision and mission regarding short and long term goals, then the leaders can communicate that through the ranks.
It takes guts, sacrifice and effective (cross-cultural) communication to lead. That comes with time and experience which leads to confidence in your abilities and showing others that you know what you are doing.
Sometimes there are some people who don't want to listen to managers, but will engage with a leader among them.
Of course that can be negative or positive, if the leader has his/her own personal agenda and is a self-serving leader.
If we are talking positive leadership, then you can reach lofty goals without too much time and consternation.

Leadership is a Skill
Germaine Roanne Baquilod, Manager, Philippines, Member
Leadership is a skill. You may be thrown into a situation which empowers you to lead. But your ability to influence and carry out plans into successful action by others is learned and mastered over time and experiences.
Be that as it may, integrity, commitment, ethics and service are qualities that increase the potential to be a great leader.

Leadership Situations
M Y Zainudeen, Management Consultant, Sri Lanka, Member
There are a large number of characteristics (as someone has mentioned earlier) which bases one's leadership talents and qualities, however all these characteristics may not be applicable in each and every situation of leading a team.
Everybody in a team could be a leader provided that (s)he is with the vision of the team, ie (s)he understands, believes and practice the action which leads to the said vision. No one needs to be a born leader as long as (s)he is adaptable and trainable with a broad perspective about what is happening outside and inside. In short leaders could be made as long as one has the appetite.
Everybody cannot be a leader in every team, a leader in one particular group could be follower in another, depending on the situation and the challenges to faces. A broad understanding about visions, missions and the strategies of team is a must for anyone to be a leader...

Leadership by Birth?
TAPIWA JUMOH, Student (University), Zimbabwe, Member
Leaders are not born even if we all exist because of the process: 'birth.'
Leadership requires to engage with, motivate, persuade people to buy into a vision, objective or goal. The individual who can influence the way other people influence themselves, is a leader.

You can be born but without:
(a) Desire to lead
(b) Commitment
(c) Integrity
(d) Sincerity/authenticity
(e) Consistency
(f) Substance
(g) Ability to understand your role

Birth is natural and the notion to associate leadership with it is arguable. It is the resourceful family unit which groomed their child especially through formal education to appear accepted by the community as a role model. Opportunities for such persons used to be abundant since they were the only qualified for such tasks without much competition. Remember in the past our management was (too) scientific through early management writers like Henry Fayol.
All the listed moral behaviours above are not acquired automatically by birth. One needs varying coachings, teachings and understanding of societal values or ethics to be a good leader.

Leadership Can Be Taught and Learned
Tom Wilson, HR Consultant, United States, Premium Member
However, it is absolute doctrine of the US Army that leadership can be taught and learned. ROTC drill is called "Leadership Laboratory".
The US Army Ranger School is based on the power of role play to install superior leadership traits for proliferation throughout the military community by the process of leadership by example. The Ranger School is the most successful leadership program in the world. It was designed to install a catalogue of military virtues intergenerationally and to implement the transformation undertaken by the adoption of the squad as the basic unit of the military organization in 1947. The Ranger tab was a sociological marker tracing the rising influence of the leadership model in the Army.
Colin Powell, who went through the school in 1956 or so, was the first Chairman of the JCS to be Ranger qualified.
The priorities of the military leader are: Mission; Men; Self.
The priorities of the current generation of Fortune 500 CEO's is Me; Myself; & I

Leaders and Learning
David Wilson, Manager, Canada, Premium Member
@Tom Wilson, I agree that leaders can be taught and can learn. When I went to through the ROTP (in Canada) program, 15 to 25% of the leaders that started the program graduated (depending on where they were recruited from). Less than 5% of those leaders that graduated became great leaders.
However, having attended and graduated from a military program, I can tell you that true leaders must be prepared to learn, change, follow, and lead. They must also learn what makes a successful leader and it is more than just following orders. Only 1 of the original 100 applicants make it into and through the program.

Can Untalented Leaders Still be Taught Leadership?
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
I wonder if leaders can be taught ab initio. In every leadership programme there is an element of selection, in which those without the prerequisite attributes are removed from the programme. To me this implies that the basic elements of leadership can be honed and improved through learning but, without these prerequisite attributes, learning falls on "stony ground"?

Leaders and Learning
Tom Wilson, HR Consultant, United States, Premium Member
@David Wilson: Thank you for your response. My Ranger class started with 300 odd candidates, 120 finished and 85 got tabs, so the percentages are about the same as ROTP. How many became great leaders is a bit more problematic and all the factors you cite are relevant. Was Colin Powell a great leader or an effective gamesman able to navigate up the chain of command. For my money, he was a great leader, as did my dad. '
The point of the Ranger School is to create an industrial program that would produce leaders with a uniform method of action research combined with the military virtues the Canadian troops took ashore at Dieppe and who learned to operate within the operational milieu of 5th Wave High Performance model where the squad is the basic unit of the organization, and to produce these leaders generation after generation. The Canadian military has similar programs
I stipulate to everything that comes after. For me, the point of departure is of the essence.

On the Ideology of Leadership
Tom Wilson, HR Consultant, United States, Premium Member
@Mellacheruvu Adi Saasthry : This list is what I consider the ideology of Leadership, which is to say, that these qualities needs be present before a leader can emerge, as opposed to metrics that can be applied after the fact to guide the leader into additional areas of competence as a leader. The inherent assumption in lists such as this is the same as in the Self-Esteem Movement, which is based on a useful diagnostic of the Passion/Feeling-Values of the ego. The problem with the Self-Esteem model is that it is employed as a tool to generate qualities of character by appealing to the ego when the list cited requires the subordination of the ego to allow the qualities to emerge and expand in the service of a larger collective enterprise. Mission, Men, and Self versus Me, Myself, and I.

Few are Born, Others are Made
abdulghaniyu salako, Student (MBA), Nigeria, Member
Few individuals are born leaders, but they perform exceptionally well. For example, Jesus and Mohammed.
Most others are made, depending on circumstances. For example, Mandela, Ghandi, Garvay, Martin Luther King, Alexandra the Great, etc.
However, to be a born or made leader is not all, but what counts is how you can impact people positively. So that when tomorrow comes, people will always remember you.

Leaders: Born or Made?
haguma brian, Student (University), Uganda, Member
I strongly suggest that leaders are made. Because if they were born, what would be the point of the rest of us studying leadership or management?
Editor: exactly, and what would be the use for this knowledge network about management :-) ?

Leaders can be Made
VENKATESH, Manager, India, Member
People are born with some traits of Emotion and Intelligence. Leadership requires these traits in different proportions.
Along with these 2, one also requires for leadership: Attitude, Communication ability, Long term thinking.
An organisation can surely spot the traits of a person and train him/her in certain aspects so to be able to lead a team/organisation, depending on their requirements or the context.
But all said and done a leader is a person who comes forward to take a challenge. Some people may have everything in them but they are shy of challenges. I am not sure whether one can be trained on this.
Some people fortunately have the requisite traits in the right proportion early on, and these are the people we call born leaders.

Natural versus Genetically Modified
Satya Nistala, India, Member
Made leaders are like genetically modified products. All color but no taste. Natural leaders are like organic fruits.
They are not only hygienic, smell good but are tasty too.
What is natural must be good.
That being said:
A natural leader can be helped by nurturing (guidance). The problem is to identify a teacher that can spot a natural leader and groom him, without conditioning him, because the leader needs to be free to layout the path for the future.
All of us can agree that the world really needs some good leaders and they are in short supply. Non profits is where you may find a good leader, because there is no profit motive, but a sense and spirit of service.

Think Beyond 'Are Leaders Born or Made'
Vipul Nahar, India, Member
Despite of our failure in deriving consensus on this topic every time we discuss, it is still the most wanted leg piece of every discussion related to leadership. At times, I don't understand what we actually want to extract out of this "oldest member" among the topics related to leadership.
So my question is: how does it really matter whether leaders are born or made? Do you really think, anyone in today's age gives a damn about this? Answer is a big NO. Because today delivery has become more important, no matter if it comes from a born leader or a trained leader.

Coming back to topic, No one is born as XYZ. Rather, they are born with a certain skill set which if flourished, give rise to say a dancer, singer, doctor etc.
Identifying leadership as a talent is far different from identifying others as it's situation based. The more situations you face, the better clarity you get whether you are the perfect recipe for leadership and this realization is made either by you or people around you.

Beyond 'Born or Made'
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Vipul Nahar: As Mark Boucher and other South African cricketers have repeatedly stated - "Proficiency is 10% talent and 90% hard work". This applies to leadership as well.

Replying to These Questions is Better Than 'Candy Crush'
Rebecca Roe, United States, Premium Member
@Vipul Nahar: It may not matter anymore than what came first? The chicken or the egg? We all continue to wonder!

Beyond Born or Made Leaders
Vipul Nahar, India, Member
@Andrew Blaine: Agreed and this is what I meant I guess. We need a mix of both innate skills and practicing.

Great Leaders are like Diamonds
Feraidoon Bakhtiari, CxO / Board, Iran, Member
Leaders have diamond quality. They flourish in circumstances of heat and pressure. Heat zeal and passion of making changes in behaviour and mindset along with pressure of environment, resources, rules and regulations to make our soul and body substance as clear and precious as diamond in nature.
Leaders and managers need to exercise these valuable elements of creating unique and exceptional path finders. You might be born with necessary factors of being a leader or manager and you may even take some courses in management or study it at the highest level of education but you need to exercise the art of making the impossible POSSIBLE.
Look at the great leaders of the world you may know. The all believed in making changes not only in their followers' mindset, but also in their behaviour and judgment about what to want, how to want it, where to go, and how to go to the newly set destination by them.
Leaders and managers are made by their own will and enthusiasm to change the world of organizations.

Leaders Formal and Informal Training
Thabo Johnson, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
Learned friends, my view is based on traditional leadership where the baton is passed on from one to another.
Leadership qualities are a pre-natal and post-natal disposition of an individual. This discourse is pronounced in traditional tribal leadership positions where leadership is passed from one generation to another through selection and appointment prior to conception. Such trajectory agrees partially with a leader being born, however the birth could also be scheduled for leadership. This entails being born into leadership.
The innate qualities of leaders still need to be honed and developed in an environment that is conducive to the leadership.

Hereditary Leadership
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Thabo Johnson: There are simply too many examples that say your opinion does not mesh with reality. Heredity may offer advantages to some that others will not get, but that does not mean that good leaders rise, exclusively, from "leadership stock". In the UK, the Queen is the de jure leader of the country, but she simply approves decisions made by her elected Government who are the de facto leaders. In South Africa, traditional leaders, in general, have not proved to benefit their people, they rather benefit themselve, just like their "elected" political counterparts.

Hereditary Leadership
Thabo Johnson, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
Reality in a South African context cannot overlook that the regional stock of great leaders can be traced back to the times of King Shaka, the forefathers of the Mandela Clan, the Ackermans, the Oppenheimers, the Ghandis who have made remarkable contributions to what leadership is through informal lessons acquired and being born into an environment that embraces the leadership style developed by their forefathers.
Is it academically prudent that we do not decipher lessons from these leadership characters who pass on the leadership baton neo natal and post natal.

Leaders-Born or Made or Hereditory Etc
Gopalakrishna Bhat, Project Manager, India, Member
I think, this discussion can go on forever without converging to any logical conclusion.
Instead of spending time talking theories, can we start sharing leadership case studies (both successes and failures) which would benefit larger community of leaders.

The Context of the Leadership Matters
Feraidoon Bakhtiari, CxO / Board, Iran, Member
I do not know where this kind of discussion take us? Some believe leaders are born and some show evidences that leaders are made. And as a conclusion everybody agrees that both sides are right.
What is the root of our behaviour? Let's suppose that our behaviour is a function of environment and character, which refers to some basic questions such as where, how, by who and for what we have been raised and trained.
In some occasions ordinary people by force of organization or society become highly influential managers / leaders. And we can also point to many qualified and talented people that inspite of their smartness they could not not reach where they expected to be.
Discussing about management and leadership needs to identify the location as well as environment in which they are expected to be evaluated. Are we talking about these two major role players in a small organization, in an industry, in a society, in a nation and or in the world?

How to Assess Suitability of a 'Born' Leader?
Thomas Solomon, Student (University), Nigeria, Member
@Sandeep Pathak: I agree with you, but what are the things or features one gets to look out for that will tell when a person is a leader by birth?

Leaders are Born, Not Made
Satya Nistala, India, Member
@Haguma brian: The only use of networking and learning about leadership and management is to get a job or to acquire a higher position. It is not about making leaders who would serve the interest of humanity. Too much analysis of any topic is the bane of the modern thinking. It is like dissecting a flower to see where the beauty comes from. We are not going to find it.
Leaders are always born when time warrants them. It is in the order of things. If man made leaders were as effective, the world would have been in a much better shape. We can surely see such is not the case.

You Lead Like You are Lead
Deric Crosby, Manager, United States, Member
In my opinion, with most behavioral characteristics or skills it is learned. Most leaders are born out of their experiences and observations they have as they move through life.
In many cases they become a "mini me" of the leaders they have followed in the past.
Some may have more charisma or extroverted characteristics that make them more visible than other leaders; however, these are the least important to behaviors / characteristics to have in order to have the respect and trust of their followers.

Are Leaders Born or Made?
Kurai Chitima, Business Consultant, South Africa, Member
I was told the story of a man who visited a far country where people were still living quite primitive. He saw an old man and asked him the question: "Are leaders in this place born or made?" The old man smiled and replied: "Here, only babies are born".
Could the old man have spoken for our world too?

Leaders are Born; not Made
Riek Yak Guandong, Student (University), South Sudan, Member
Born leaders are effective, charismatic and formulators.
Leaders by learning are often only implementers.

Leaders Born not Made
Michael D. Moore, Entrepreneur, United States, Member
I have read the many valuable responses here and this is a subject dear to my heart.
Respectfully, this is not an easy either/or answer. After 40+ years in executive management, I submit that strong leaders are both "Born & Made".
Responders to this thread have listed a number of traits and characteristics that a leader must possess. Many of those can be learned and developed to a high level. An example would be "communication skills". That said, many are more innate in the leader, such as empathy, integrity and trustworthiness. Because a leader must have followers, the personality traits & characteristics that create "follower-ship" are too often more natural in the leaders personality than learned.
Certainly, the affects in early childhood of parenting, schooling, environment, social reinforcement, etc can mold many leadership characteristics.
Personality characteristics you are born with and early childhood development are the most important contributors to leadership.

Cornucopia of Leadership
Gregory Johnson, Coach, United States, Premium Member
There are a number of outstanding responses to the query of leaders either born or made in this thread.
If one were to define Leadership versus Leader, one would understand why such an interesting array of responses to what some would view a rather simple question. There is nothing simple about the topic "Leadership" because it is like a chameleon. There are so many elements influencing the role of leadership that there is no authentic nor succinct definition of leadership.
Michael Moore may have come the closest to summarizing the challenge with the words: environmental or situational. I believe Leadership to be a choice requiring a significant amount of preparation. Yes, there are those born into leadership roles such as a Prince or Princess. However, the majority in our everyday lives have been chosen or have chosen to lead and require PREPARATION through learning and experience to be most effective.
Yes, only babies are born, but today have manufactured leaders taking us where? Let's define leadership.


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