Leaders–born or made?
I get this a lot. And though it seems like “the question of the ages,” it’s really not.
Leaders are made, not born.
I believe this with all my being, and have evidence of perpetual non-leaders “turning a corner” in their professional lives and developing the leadership presence that many only dream of.
I believe they are made because I’ve seen them made.
Having said that… I’ve been playing golf for 30 some-odd years. I’m a solid “business-golfer,” never embarrassing myself completely (well, there was this one time…), and also never being eligible for a U.S. Open run. I play to a 12-15 handicap, and enjoy the game. Others pick up the sticks, get a few pointers, and then display an immediate proclivity to the game, joining the single-digit ranks in less than a year. I try and run ’em over with my golf cart… wait, did I write that out loud?
Anyway, these “12-month-wonders” weren’t born knowing how to golf. They didn’t grow in the womb with spikes and a leather glove, knowing then that a downhill lie requires a closed clubface. They were, however, born with the propensity to learn the game that I was not. They picked it up faster–it fit their physicality, their mental grasp, even their character or persona.
Here, then, are your born leaders. They knew nothing of active listening, feedback and decision-making during their mom’s first ultrasound; they simply pick up the principles and applications so much faster than we mortals that they appear–like the irritating golfers above–to have been “born” with those traits.
They weren’t. They just learned ’em faster than most of us.
I also think that the “born, not made” mantra is promoted mostly by (a) those who weren’t born with that propensity mentioned above and need some emotional salve to keep their ego whole, or (b) those who were born with that propensity, and can’t understand why others don’t “get it.”
A bigger question, to me, is what can we do to identify those innate leadership learners sooner, rather than later?
But that’s just me…