The question of whether leaders are made or born is about as old as leadership itself. I am firmly on the “made” side.
While some people do seem to be born with certain traits of leadership; extraversion, self-confidence, and courage are but a few that come to mind, there are many people who have those traits and yet never lead. So traits alone do not make a leader.
There are also readily identifiable qualities and characteristics of leadership but merely possessing those characteristics does not make a person a leader. For instance, I believe that to lead people you must care about them, truly truly care. So caring is a prime leadership characteristic for me. But I know many many caring people who do not seek leadership opportunities.
It is ultimately the actions of an individual that makes them a leader. It’s what they do with the qualities and characteristics that they possess they will determine their ability to lead.
So, if a leader is made then who makes them. Well, certainly not me! Certainly not any of the other gazillion trainers, speakers, coaches and mentors who claim to develop leaders.
I firmly believe that leaders are made and I even more firmly believe that leaders are self-made. I might be able to help someone develop themselves as a leader but they do the hard work, not me.
Let me explain. I can share with people what leadership qualities and characteristics are important for a leader. I can say caring is important but I can’t “teach” someone to care. I can point out caring people and use them as an example of the behavior to model but a “would be” leader must decide for themselves to actually care.
Courage is also a key characteristic of effective leadership and it is another characteristic of a leader that can be learned but it can’t be taught. It must be experienced, it must be witnessed, it must be modeled, and then it can be adopted by the would be leader. No one can “teach” another person to be courageous.
It is said, and agreed upon by most, that great leaders build more leaders, not more followers. But great leaders don’t teach leadership, they merely model it for their followers every single day. In other words, great leaders show their followers what they need to learn.
If you are a would be leader yourself then here is a tip: don’t expect someone to teach you how to lead. Follow a great leader, and pay attention to how they lead. Listen intensely, watch closely, adopt their characteristics and then adapt them to who you are.
Other people can help you become a leader but they can only help. Whether or not you truly lead will depend largely on the decisions you make for yourself.
So…will you decide to Lead Today?