Leaders Are Not Born, They’re Made. Leadership Develops

Potter

There has been a debate for years about what makes a great leader. This debate is at times summarised into two schools of thought. The one school proposes that leaders are a select few people who are born with a unique set of skill and possess a rare leadership abilities, they are naturally gifted and talented. The other school of thought proposes that leaders are made, that is they learn, grow and develop into great leaders through the books they read, the people they associate with and from their experiences.

My take on this discussion is that I believe that leaders are made, and I am not the only one with this perspective.

“…leaders are made, not born, and made more by themselves than by any external means. Second . . . that no leader sets out to be a leader per se, but rather to express himself freely and fully.” – Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader

The truth is the most people have the potential to become effective leaders. The real  issue is that leadership takes time to develop.

  • People need time to figure out what they’re passionate about
  • People need time to understand their personal vision and purpose
  • People need time to learn how to express who they
  • People need time to learn how to use their unique strengths and skills
  • People need time to learn how to express their purpose in their own unique way.

As the saying goes…. the fighter does not win in the ring…  he is only recognized there! You see leadership is not something you’re born with, it cannot be taught, it cannot be copied…  it’s learnt!

“Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned.” – Harold Geneen

Leaders learn through life experience, by making room in our lives for lots of trial and error…

“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” – Vince Lombardi

Leaders are made when they understanding their purpose, their strengths and have a deep passion to make a difference by living out who they are in the real world.

“Leadership is an observable, learnable set of practices. Leadership is not something mystical and ethereal that cannot be understood by ordinary people. Given the opportunity for feedback and practice, those with the desire and persistence to lead can substantially improve their abilities to do so.” – James Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge

Perhaps this real issue is that:

  • … only a few of us are willing to pay the price necessary to become a leader?
  • … only a few people take the time to understand their unique vision and purpose?
  • … only a few people take the time to understand who they are?
  • … only a few people take the time to learn how to express themselves?

 

Photo Credit: Harold Laudeus

 

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  • Marcia

    Love the quote above that leadership cannot really be taught only learned. It really is a choice to keep developing as a leader. Would love to hear more insights about that development.

    • http://www.georgeambler.com/ George Ambler

      Hi Marcia,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes. Leadership development is on my list of must do posts for 2013.

      Stay tuned!

  • Waqar Ali

    To conclude this debate we should also study the lives of great leaders. By the way this article helped me in my university debate. I am also of the opinion that leaders are made, their experiences, whom they grew up with, makes a leader. Thank you Mr. George.