The Best Leaders Never Stop Learning
As we always say, the best leaders never stop learning.
There are quite a few search results and articles on born leadership .... are leaders born or made, We're dedicating this leadership article to the supporting data that shows leaders are made and not born. Though there is some science that says marginally supports that leaders are born.
All of these articles on born leadership discuss leadership growth and its importance. A critical method for enhancing your leadership skills is mentorship as you fill in the gaps, enhance your skills, and continue to grow, a leadership coach or mentor can be incredibly helpful.
Psychology Today has a full article addressing the concept of are leader born or made. They say, "The fact that leadership is mostly made is good news for those of us involved in leadership development: Leaders can indeed be developed. Yet there is some "raw material," some inborn characteristics, that predispose people to be and become leaders."
The article goes on to discuss how personal leadership traits such as extraversion (associated with leadership positions and effectiveness) and intelligence and more focused than that would be social intelligence -- people also call this emotional intelligence. If you don't have these skills or leadership traits you can grow them.
Forbes, another well known magazine discusses how some leaders are born and some are made. Though unfortunately does not provide data behind assertion. One interesting comment is, "The single most powerful way to grow as a leader: Become truly self-aware."
We also believe that self awareness, high EQ, or emotional intelligence is a unique attribute that can help a leader be very successful in his or her growth. The article goes on to say about self awareness, "What are your actual strengths and weaknesses as a leader and as a person? What impact do you have on others?"
They advocate three key aspects for all great leaders: 1) Become a Fair Witness: in other words be true to yourself an others. Do not embellish. 2) Invite Feedback: Ask for the feedback and actively process it. Listen. And why did they say what they said? 3) Listen: of course. But this is active listening. That means, you are totally focused on what is being said. You're processing it.
The National Institute of Health (or NIH) is the USA's government run research arm on health. They address multiple studies regarding addressing the question are leaders are born or made. One thing that this article addresses, is that the definition of leadership can be somewhat different. But they did use generally accepted concepts of leadership.
This article examines a few different studies on twins. The thought was that if leaders were born, then both twins would be leaders. However, the deduction from the data was that some people may be more genetically predisposed to be leaders but those skills must be nurtured or grown.
The article references quite a few studies and articles that generally support this concept. This is one of the better articles on born leadership since it provides a great deal of data based on studies. One of the key studies is, "Born to Lead? A Twin Design and Genetic Association Study of Leadership Role Occupancy.
A while back I was fortunate enough to be invited to the GE Leadership University. Jack has emulated this in his own leadership institute. They wrote an article on Are People Born Leaders? It goes on to first address the five key aspects of great leadership,
The message that positive energy and the ability to energize others tends to be more of a born leader attribute (though we believe this can also be taught and learned). The other aspects can be learned according to the article.
HBR discusses this question in a unique way in the article, Asking Whether Leaders Are Born or Made Is the Wrong Question . The article first debates what the definition of leadership is.... is it performance as a leader or the title of a leader. They relate to certain leadership skills and how they may or may not contribute to leadership performance depending on the job.
For example, extroversion is helpful if you are in a job that requires social interaction such as sales. But may not in other roles. Intelligence is another skill but sometimes job stressors can reduce the impact of high-intelligence. The perception of intelligence is interestingly a greater impact on a leaders success than actual intelligence.
The article concludes that often times leaders are chosen for skills that may not always be the right predictors of success.
There are many articles on born leadership and each of them have a slightly different twist around how it is defined, and competencies of great leaders. In summary though, leadership success is based on a variety of attributes which tend to be role centric. And perceptions of a person's leadership skills may weigh more heavily than the skills themselves.
We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.
Randy Pausch: American educator, a professor of computer science, human–computer interaction, and design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg