Chris J Powell

Are True Leaders Born or Made?

This is a debate that has engrossed senior executives for years.  We have all heard someone be called a “Born Leader” at least once but is it even possible for someone to be a born leader?  This topic comes to mind as my 12 year old daughter heads off to Oshawa for Leadership Training at Camp Samac with the London Police Service for Safety Patroller Training sponsored by the CAA for the next 3 days.

My daughter has always been someone that others turned to for support and guidance.  I would love to think that it is because she has an inborn skill that has her do the right thing but I know better.  Her mother and I have raised her with discipline and tried to instill a good work ethic in her.  This comes out at every opportunity.

The real question that I pose is, why do we still think that Leaders have a natural instinct for that role?  Logically it does not make sense and yet we think that a Leader will just mysteriously appear where there was none before without ever offering any positive reinforcement or Leadership training.

In researching this topic this morning I found some very interesting references to Dr. Ronald E. Riggio who says that the debate about Born vs. Made is itself inherently dangerous:

The answer is that executives who believe that leaders are born, give less attention to leader development, both their own personal development as well the development of those they lead. They are focused on selecting leaders with the ‘right stuff,’ and expecting that those leaders’ natural abilities will mean organizational success. But nothing could be further from the truth.

If study after study places about 1/3 of the Leadership qualities as natural born leadership…then why are we not placing more effort on the 2/3 that comes from training?  The reality is we can not raise a generation of Leaders but the amazing thing about Leadership…is that having the skills and using them are two completely different things.

It is the same as any other skill, you can teach and train people to do just about anything.  Reading is not something that we just naturally know how to do, the same with scientific theory or mathematics but that is all part of the curriculum in school regardless of if the person will grow up to be a Doctor, Firefighter or Ditch Digger!

For anyone out there who has not had formal Leadership Training but would like to be able to be a more competent Leader there is hope, there are resources out there to help you, here is a list of some resources:

Some of the resources are Free, some you pay for.  I recommend getting what you can from a free resource and then graduate to a paid version.  Growth and Development is something that can not be put off, the future starts just 1 minute from now and every move you make right now to prepare for it…means that tomorrow will always be a better day!


Chris J Powell

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