Leadership Development: Are Leaders Born or Made? Part 2 – The “Leaders Are Born” Argument
Leadership Development & Leadership Skills Development
In studying leadership development and leadership skills development, despite that fact that so many ponder the question of whether leaders are born are made, there is still a pretty great divide between both camps.
Of course, some people studying leadership skills development just lean slightly one way or the other or have a foot a little on both sides of the line.
This group probably has the greatest number. Specifically, the greatest consensus appears to be that some people are born leaders – with leadership traits and leadership characteristics – and seem to know how to be a leader naturally—without even trying. While others, on the other hand, are born with some leadership traits and develop others. And even another group puts time and energy into learning how to be a leader and eventually develops the leader persona.
Yet, even for those who seem to learn leadership skills and develop into being a leader, the “born” argument states they were indeed also born with leadership traits, it just took those traits longer – or more effort – to surface and be shaped.
This side contends that without being born with those leadership traits, the odds of developing into a leader are slim, therefore enforcing that – to some degree – leaders are born first, before they can be made.
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 be advantageous for leaders. Leaders also need to be smart to analyze situations and figure out courses of action. So, intelligence is associated with leadership, but perhaps not general IQ, but social intelligence – understanding of social situations and processes – is the component of intelligence that is important for leadership. Finally, some sort of empathy, or ability to know followers, is also advantageous for leaders (although much of this is learned). As noted leadership scholar, Bernard Bass, noted, “The leader must be able to know what followers want, when they want it, and what prevents them from getting what they want.”
So does this mean you can never develop into a leader – leadership development or leadership skills training or not – if you are born without these personality traits?
The leaders are made camp says, “NO!” This side believes genetics are only slightly important—if that. They believe leaders can be made. We will look at their side next…
Susan Sly is a best selling author, speaker and entrepreneur. She has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime Television and the CBN. Susan is the mother of five children and resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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