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Leader are born or made

There has been a debate for years about what makes a leader. This debate has resulted in two schools of thought. One school proposes that leaders are made from a select few unique of individuals, born with a rare set of leadership abilities – leaders are born. The other school of thought proposes that leaders are made, that we learn, grow and develop into leaders – leaders are made.

Warren Bennis spent a significant amount of time studying leaders and leadership. He also spent time on the faculties of Harvard and Boston University, an author of over 30 books and an adviser to four United States presidents. After as significant amount of research on leadership, he came to the following conclusion:

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”

Warren G. Bennis

He goes on to say that. . .

“Biographies of great leaders sometimes read as if they entered the world with an extraordinary genetic endowment, as if their future leadership role was preordained. Do not believe it. The truth is that major capacities and competencies of leadership can be learned if the basic desire to learn them exists.” – Warren Bennis

It turns out that the vast majority of leaders are made through focused effort, hard work and daily action.

Leaders are Made, Not Born

Whilst there are some genetic qualities that can help speed up leadership development, there is no evidence that leadership is in your DNA or the result of personality.

Let’s explore some research on this topic.

·         Gender plays a very little role in explaining the difference in leadership potential. Some studies show that women are slightly more effective leaders, but this seems to be the result of higher standards being applied when appointing women to leadership positions.

·         Leaders come in many shapes and sizes. There are very few characteristics that predict leadership potential. Research has found that people who are adjusted, social, ambitious, and curious are more likely to become leaders. Whilst IQ contributed less than 5% to the likelihood that someone would emerge as a leader.

·         Leadership behaviours like any other human practice is a combination of genetic andenvironmental factors. And whilst some people may be born with leadership qualities, research suggests anywhere between 30% – 60%, most leadership behaviors are developed over time. At its core leadership consists of a set of skills and behaviours that can be learnt.

Are Leaders Born or Made?

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