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Are leaders born or made?

This is an age-old question that's been the subject of countless books, articles, and debates. Heck, I even started a "leadership readiness group" at a company I worked at, hoping I could mold future leaders earlier in their career. And, I have seen umpteen number of "Leadership Development" efforts at companies that have not produced the leaders they hoped for (they have produced managers).

And, the question remains - are leaders born, or are they made?

My Answer is...

Leaders emerge. They are born out of circumstances, enlightenment, purpose, drive, ambition, etc. More importantly, born out of their own passion or drive, and not because they attended a one-week seminar on how to be a great leader, or read a self-improvement book. Nor, are they created because they were thrown into a scenario. And, they are definitely not born with special genes.

The easiest comparison I can think of is charity. One can't make someone to be charitable, that drive has to come from within, and for the greater good.

Self-awareness is key

To be a leader, you need to be self-aware of your leadership abilities. Not simply the confidence, but the belief in the common goal you are taking your team to. And that can happen only out of one's own volition, passion, self-awareness, and enlightenment.

And, for this to happen, you need leaders to have a purpose that came about on its own, and not artificially created.

The important thing to understand is leadership is a trait, and not a skill.

So, how do you build leaders?

This leads to an interesting question - how do companies then "build" leaders? While leadership should still come from within an individual, you can increase the probability of successful leaders emerging in your workplace by a few simple things.

  1. Start with culture. Often times, people's leadership abilities are wasted simply because they are not recognized, rewarded, or simply acknowledged. Create a culture where leadership is treated as a special trait given the short and long term benefits to the company.
  2. Create a purpose that you want people to lead in - purpose drives leaders to emerge, and if you create or demonstrate a larger purpose, you will encourage leaders to emerge.
  3. Create messages and actions consistent with culture - whether these are implicit or explicit, send messages that are consistent with how you identify, recognize and reward leadership. Your actions should also reflect this, whether in policies, rewards, promotions, and so on.
  4. Reward and not punishment - coming forward as a leader, especially an unproven one, is a risky proposition. For those who take this risk, send a message that failure is not punished. Else, you risk potential leaders not coming forward.
  5. Autonomy and not bureaucracy - contributing with leadership is similar to contributing with charity. Bureaucracy easily stifles both. Autonomy, on the other hand, enables leaders to be creative in their own way.


Manohar Kamath

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think it is really not an either/or situation - u have to be born with some traits and u have to learn others ,so it is ((born and made)), not born or made.

Then, u always have some situations where someone raised the right way, takes up the leadership position in a time of stress, because SOMEONE has to do it.
i know at my suggestion u partially agree with me not fully.

agree :) 

Very good article . good sharing

Awesome sharing  Abdul

Leaders are born and they make their way from the start.

Leaders can also be made but take care they should be ordered from china!!!

anyways leaders can be developed are groomed as well but definetly they are less effective than the natural leaders...


It is a debateable topic specially difference between managers and leaders:

teeko ban ja 

sab say aagay ja kar kharay ho jao stage par teeko ... phir bnatay hain apko leader



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