Being a great leader yields appeal and admiration. Many people desire to be great leaders, however, only a few can do so effortlessly. It then begs the question - are leaders born or made? This argument is unending. Regardless, this is an area of interest, and purely arguable, but, even with sufficient positions backing both, they each have their flawed theories. How about we examine both notions, and then draw up a conclusion to put the matter to bed.

Is Great Leadership Skills Inherent?

Some theories posit that certain qualities and traits such as charisma, confidence, decision making, communication, etc., are inherent. These innate traits, along with education, experiences, and environment, can transform a naturally-born person into an excellent and remarkable leader.

Think about it! We’re so different and unique, with extraordinary endowments. If everyone were born with the same abilities, we won’t have specialization, and we’d all be able to play sports professionally. For instance, we all sing, and we did a little painting back in school, but there are those exceptionally built for these trades, and they will naturally and seamlessly outshine without any effort. Whereas, others with the desire to match-up will give blood and sweat and will barely be exceptional. So, just like sports, music and art, leadership is an inborn characteristic.

However, just because a person was born with an innate ability to lead doesn’t mean that s/he would be a great leader. Still, a trait unpolished is not necessarily a wasted trait. With the right ingredients, a born leader will dazzle faster than a made leader. If you argue to the contrary, why do people spend resources and commit to lifelong learning of leadership, public speaking, confidence, management, people relations, influence, and more?

Is Great Leadership Skills Acquired?

Some other theories posit that great leadership can be taught and learned over time through training, understanding, and experience. Just like the military, people can learn, observe, and practise leadership just like any other set of skills. According to these theories, a great leader must commit to lifelong learning, and continually discover new leadership improvement apparatus and opportunities.

The flaws I find with this theory is that certain traits can be understood, but can never be infused. How can you instill honesty or vision? Similarly, maturity, charisma, confidence, integrity, influence, foresight, communication, and other soft skills cannot be imprinted, and completing a leadership programme doesn’t qualify one to be leader. You can learn how to pitch an idea intelligently and impressively, but, selling that idea is completely different.

There are indeed people who through learning, became great leaders, but, not as graceful as natural born leaders, and an awful lot of people learning leadership continue to struggle.

To become a remarkable leader, a combination of attributes like character, emotional intelligence, personality, communication, and skill, must be present. Here are a few pointers to help your leadership journey;

  1. Master emotional intelligence - exercise calmness and maturity in dealing with others
  2. Improve communication - actively listening, and clearly conveying instructions
  3. Don’t be a commander - lead by example, and be actively involved
  4. Cultivate relationships - encouraging, understanding, and considerate
  5. Be respectful - be sensitive, and celebrate diversity
  6. Be appreciative - connect personally, and make others feel important and valued

Some of these qualities may be perceived as weakness, but, these are some of the qualities that distinguish true leaders with genuine followers from poorly trained leaders.

After all said, to put the argument to bed, there cannot be logical conclusion, and since one cannot cancel out the other, the scale must be balanced. It should, however, be noted that leadership can be taught and learned, but, it could be more easily demonstrated by someone with the natural implant.

Although there’s a whole lot about leadership that simply cannot be acquired, it largely depends on choice. Leaders are willing to fearlessly take on responsibilities without being appointed, and face challenges head on. They are selfless, hate injustice, have a heart bigger than their ego, and couldn’t care less about money, fame, power, or recognition. So, if one can muster enough gut and willingness to get up, such person is a leader - born or not.

Agree or disagree? Air your thoughts in the comment section below.


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