Are leaders born or made? Much like the nature versus nurture debate in science, the question of whether leaders are born or made is one that many continue to debate. Some believe individuals innately possess leadership qualities. Others argue that leadership is more like a muscle; one that is developed and refined through intentional acts of self-discovery.

Our leadership perspective

Some people are born with innate leadership characteristics. Those “born-with” leadership characteristics vary and can come with a mixed bag of traits, including being a visionary, having unwavering confidence and being risk-averse. But those traits alone are not guaranteed ingredients for great leadership. Those traits are more like a head start. The traits help, but the key to leadership is tied directly to an individual’s ability to analyze, act and adapt.

  1. Analyze individual behaviors, abilities, strengths and weakness.

  2. Act on opportunities or create opportunities to act on.

  3. Adapt to the environment and its evolving circumstances, as well as staying comfortable with continuous change.

When we view leadership through the lens of analysis, action and adaptation, our perspective on great leadership changes. We no longer see great leadership tied to specific personality characteristics. Rather, great leadership becomes more like a mentality and point of view that individuals either take to or run from. How can companies develop strategies that strengthen the leadership potential of employees?

  1. Integrate leadership development into your company culture from the start. Don’t assume talent will cultivate itself. Instead expose employees to programs and opportunities to build their leadership muscle.

  2. Create environments where employees are challenged. Those moments of challenge allow managers to see which employees thrive in difficult scenarios and those that welcome the changing circumstances.

  3. Discuss leadership openly with employees in a way that welcomes progress rather than perfection. Don’t assume that an individual’s first chance at leading will be perfect; it probably won’t be anything close to perfect. But if leadership is a muscle, then the best thing managers can do is give employees the opportunity to break that muscle and rebuild it again.

Are you ready to build great leaders?

Great. We are ready to help you get there.
Our team has helped guide companies internationally through customized leadership training that points individuals and teams in the right direction. We work on the belief that business success is directly proportional to great leadership across the entire enterprise.