Are leaders born or made?

Have you struggled with the question of whether leaders are born or made? If you are in a leadership position, did you get there because you had the right last name, because you pushed hard for it, or because you were selected? Or maybe it is a combination of all of these.

What I notice about “natural leaders” is that they communicate clearly. They can put facts together quickly and develop a point of view. Having been noticed or applauded for their clarity of expression gave them confidence early to continue to speak up with their opinions. Their born talents were reinforced and encouraged. However, in the absence of opportunity to lead they may be entertaining or cool in their circle but ultimately not actually leaders.

Leaders may be made due to situations that force them to be the decision makers or direction determinator. An earthquake hits, and an individual takes action for their own safety and that makes sense to others who do the same. The pattern gets repeated and suddenly that person is seen as a leader.

Leadership does not happen in a vacuum. There have been women who were born leaders who were shut down to any opportunity to lead. Then, if there were no male leaders available, necessity put them in the top position. I’ve been reading about the queens of ancient Egypt who stepped in when a male heir was lacking or too young to lead.

If you want the opportunity to lead, you can cultivate the skill sets that get typically recognized as “leadership skills” like great communication, ability to describe a vision or possibility and getting wins that are recognized as valuable to your peers.

As to whether they are born or made, without the opportunity to prove themselves, potential leaders can wither on the vine. This week, challenge yourself to lead or give someone else the opportunity to grow in leadership. Have fun with it.

Image of Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt. She reigned from 1473-1458 B.C.