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Leaders – Are They Born or Made?

By Jeri T Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International  5-17-2012

Takeaways: Leaders can be developed although being born with the key talents gives one a head start. In-born qualities may only emerge through training. If no training is provided, then those qualities may lay dormant. Those who believe leaders are mostly born tend not to invest in leadership training programs.

Leaders-Steve JobsAccording to Psychology Today, the research estimates say that leaders are mostly made. What do you think? In response to a poll on LinkedIn in June 2012,  54% said leaders are trained, while 46% said it’s an innate talent.

The fact that leadership skills can be developed is good news. However, the research suggests that there are some innate talents that are key to making a good leader.  These include:

  • extroversion – the ability to easily connect with others 
  • assertiveness – being unafraid to state your opinions
  • risk-taking – being bold and willing to stick your neck out
  • intelligence – being smart and analytical, but also
  • social intelligence – having an understanding of social situations and interactions

This doesn’t mean that introverts don’t make good leaders. They do. However, they need to create a self-development plan to gain the skills they need to lead teams well.

Leaders are Born – a Dangerous Concept

The idea that leaders are mostly born is a dangerous concept, according to Psychology Today. Executives who believe this pay less attention to implementing leadership development programs. They tend to think that those with the “right stuff”, the natural talents for leadership, will create organizational success. But that’s not necessarily true.

Another reason why this is a dangerous idea is that those in-born qualities may only emerge through learning. In a recent study Psychology Today conducted, they discovered that while extroverts have higher leadership potential than introverts, that wasn’t necessarily the case when it came to social intelligence and effective communication skills. Those are learned skills.

Consequently, it’s best to focus on leadership development first, and take the necessary steps to grow the leadership talent within your organization, rather than only look outside for talent.

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