Are leaders born or created?

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An old question, nevertheless, still begs the answer.

Given a little research one will find dichotomy with each side holding firm ground.  On one side, one could argue that leaders have the intrinsic quality which cannot be bred on the other side leaders are made but not born.

Same question put differently could be – does experiences make a leader or are they self-made?

Leave comments to communicate your point of view.

9 thoughts on “Are leaders born or created?

  1. I believe that there are leadrship qualities amongst all; it is just a matter of the amount of energy a person spends in bringing out the best within himself.Leaders, more often than not, do not say anything new, they are just able to motivate themselves, and consequently, others to follow a path. Therefore, Leaders, in my honest opinion, are created.

    i quote one of the greatest leaders of modern times, MK Gandhi to rest my point

    “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it ” -Mahatma Gandhi

  2. In my view, i think there are very few but super essential qualities that are internsically needed. Without these its impossible to become an effective leader. Humility, fundamental sense of consideration for others, sense of security to seek and accept feedback. there could be a discussion if these can be groomed in the very very early stages of your life.. like one is less than 7 / 9 years old. i can understand that and maybe accept that argument.. may be 🙂

    but that said, lot of leaders can build commonly measured or noticed qualities.. which we tend to even trivailise sometimes…

    One of the most critical, again IMO, is the need for an aspiring leader to have a effective council of friends and support system who can give candid feedback, show the mirror and provide some suggestions. The last part of providing suggestions is critical as the person may not able to take feedback and do anything with that, mostly because one will always try to do the best… if that best can be improved, improvisation needs help!

  3. Interesting…

    This thread took me back in time…and I’m not that old 🙂

    SSB is considered (or was considered till 15 years back), one of the toughest interviews in the world…this interview board is the door keeper to the elite National Defence Academy (a very high ranking defence academy)…we were just 15-16 year old jokers appearing for SSB…and we did make it through 🙂

    The point is…SSB looks at kids with leadership potential…cummon, a 15 year old kid from a small town, with a Kendriya Vidyalaya education, living in a protected world..not much scope for “creating leadership” is there?

    The point being…and this was explained to me with great patience by a panel of 10 psychoanalysts from the SSB board…before they let me through :-)…that people are born with certain qualities…leadership being one of them..however, its what they decide to do with those qualities that really shapes their future…

    Rewinding just about 10 years back…IIT Kharagpur…bunch of folks with an IQ north of 170-180..photographic memory, knack for electronics…knack for picking up any musical instrument…knack for solving some of the most complex problems…wastin away those precious years…dopin away to glory…Were they born with a gift?…Oh definitely Yes!…

    IMO (love Kiran using this), Leadership is just another gift (and there are so many) that a human is born with, what she decides to do with it, or how an organization/institution decides to nurture and foster it is a totally different ball game 🙂

    And this brings me to some key important questions indeed…

    1. When does an organization realize that it has hired a potential leader?…
    2. When does the organization decide that it’s time to nurture the raw (but almost there) leadership talent and convert it into actual leadership?…I guess raw diamonds are easier to deal with 🙂
    3. And when does the realization sink in that it might have let the still uncut but getting there raw stone fall in the wrong hands?

    1. Some very thought provoking questions indeed. Organisations always believe they are hiring a leader – potential or otherwise. Someone who will be a long term player. Most of the further grooming and nurturing depends on the quality of inputs of your manager and of that of your peers and colleagues. You should be able to relate to the other post on effective communication – should the dialogue be purely quantitative or have a very strong qualitative orientation as well. That will determine how one shapes up.

  4. There are at least 3 personality traits that have a bearing on whether an individual occupies a leadership position – social potency, achievement orientation and social closeness. There are some clearly born leaders whom people look upto from an early age, who seem to be willing to be seen and heard, who take risks and stand up for what they believe. Just that even the born ones have to sharpen and hone their skills. They have to be continuously moulded and formed to be effective.

    It has also been observed that people who consider themselves introverts and are generally ready followers often become successful leaders when faced with a passionate issue.

    So net net, both nature (genes and therefore by birth) and nurture (environmental influences like education, training, job experiences and other forms of environmental exposure) have an important role to play in who becomes a leader.

  5. In my opinion, there are no born leaders or created ones. When you have a razor sharp focus on something because you feel strongly about it, and you have the courage to do something about it rather than just talk, you will become a leader. The next day you may not feel strongly about the another set of issues, and someone else will become a leader because they do. I think that’s why people say that leaders always demonstrate a high level of passion and courage of conviction.

    If you feel you’re not a leader in what you do, you probably don’t feel strongly enough about it to make a difference. You probably shouldn’t be doing that thing in the first place. Usually, we refer to leaders at work, and in our environment, corporate leaders. If you don’t have the passion and courage of conviction to make things happen in the corporate world, change your world. Easier said than done, but if not done, it is best left unsaid.

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