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On Leadership: Are Leaders Born or Made?

Leaders are Made not Born!

leadership_quoteWe all can recognize that certain individuals have a natural set of abilities that can help them succeed in a specific activity (height for basketball players, or a firm hand for sharpshooters), we also can recognize that most of the population with proper training can achieve substantial accomplishments in these disciplines. The fact that those individuals have some natural genetic traits that can help them excel at some specific tasks, it does not automatically makes them leaders even on the areas where they have a natural advantage.

leader_and_arrowIn today’s organizations we have started to recognize, that while there are minor genetic differences between ourselves (color of the eyes, hair, skin, height etc), leadership skills are more related to the specific needs of society than to the biological characteristics of the leader. In our own country, we just elected the first African-American president, because he was deemed the most capable out of the potential candidates at that moment, not because any specific physical attributes. We can consider that in reality, while there could be many people with leadership capabilities out-there, with very few exceptions, only those that actively pursue the leadership roles either knowingly or unknowingly will eventually get it.

leadership-writingThe debate if leaders are born or made has been ongoing for many years and it will probably continue as long as there are some characteristics that can be used to differentiate between people based on their personal traits. Even if during most of the 1800 to the mid 1900’s one of the predominant theories, the Trait Approach and the “Great Man Theory”, supported the idea that leaders are born not made, but by the late 20th century over 40 years of study have not been able to confirm this assertion. If leaders were born not made, then no amount of effort by schools, government or organizations will be able to successfully develop the leadership skills needed in today and tomorrow’s society.

Additional Readings

Clawson, James G. (2006). Level Three Leadership: Getting Below the Surface (3th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Nahavandi, A. (2006). The Art and Science of Leadership (Fourth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ, US: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Jorge Mastrapa, PhD
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Jorge Mastrapa, PhD

Managing Partner at ICQ Consulting
Dr. Mastrapa is an internationally recognized author, public speaker, and cultural expert; with over 20 years of experience in the areas of culture and diversity, global leadership, and organizational culture.
Jorge Mastrapa, PhD
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