Leaders Are Born Not Made

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There have been an age long debate, and humans since beginning of time, have tried to come up with an answer to this question – Are Leaders born or are they made?. This question has generated an age long debate, which in turn has resulted in various school of thoughts, some believe that leaders are born, while others think otherwise. My contribution to this lifelong debate will serve as a pointer to my position on this issue.

I strongly believe that leaders are born and not made. Who is a Leader? – “A leader is a person who guides others toward a common goal, showing the way by example, and creating an environment in which other team members feel actively involved in the entire process. A leader is not the boss of the team but, instead, the person that is committed to carrying out the mission of the Venture. (Ashoka’s Youth Venture 2009) Leaders are those that are posses this drive to push and move others when situations and circumstances are not favorable and unwilling, leaders are not special breed of people, neither are they super humans, born with great abilities but they are those that are ready to make people that are around them, tap into their subconscious to bring out the extra drive needed to complete a task or create a change.

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I strongly believe, that a leader is one that sees and recognizes solutions in problems and issue, and, he or she is ready and willing to motivate all the resources at his or her disposal to bring out a favorable outcome. “A leader is a person who has a vision, a drive and a commitment to achieve that vision, and the skills to make it happen” (Reh 2012) Peter Drucker, renowned management consultant and social ecologist points out that a leader that is highly effective is the one that is a team player and a people person. (EDBERG 2006) In the same speech he also states that they (Leaders) understand their job to be to make the team function.

They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we”(the team) gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done. There are core leadership qualities that are attributed to “great” and “effective” leaders; these qualities form the basis on which they build and exhibit exemplary behaviors that separates them from other people. There are qualities that are inborn. These innate abilities can be summarized into the following; Result Oriented, Ambition, Passion, Creativity and Innovation, Focus, Honesty and Integrity, Confidence, Motivation, Persistence; these qualities form the bedrock or oundation upon which other acquired skills are built For the purpose of clarity and understanding, these qualities will be grouped into two, namely – innate abilities and acquired skills. Like I earlier pointed out innate abilities are those that an individual is born with, they are key leadership qualities.

“And Leaders who possess the requisite traits (qualities) must take certain actions to be successful (e. g. formulating a vision, role modeling, setting goals). Possessing the appropriate traits only makes it more likely that such actions will be taken and be successful”. Locke 1991) There are proofs to support these claims that some great leaders are born to be leaders because of their natural abilities. Let us dive into each of these qualities. Result Oriented. This is a quality that most people are born with, some are born with the ability to set and achieve goals, the act of setting and achieving goals is an ability a good leader must have, because behind every task, there is an expected result, I believe the whole purpose of leadership is centered on this premise. Another quality great leaders possess is Ambition, Ambition.

Leaders are very ambitious about their work and careers and have a desire to get ahead. “To advance, leaders actively take steps to demonstrate their drive and determination. Ambition impels leaders to set hard, challenging goals for themselves and their organizations. Walt Disney, founder of Walt Disney Productions, had a “dogged determination to succeed” and CE. Woolman of Delta Air Lines had “inexhaustible ambition. “” (Locke 1991) In addition to Ambition and been Result Oriented as leadership qualities, another inborn skills that great leaders posses is Creativity.

I believe creativity is one of the top qualities that born leaders posses, its the ability to tap into the subconscious to bring out great ideas. “Creative leaders have the ability to re-think their business models and come up with ideas to drastically change their enterprise”. (Stephen 2011) Although Creativity is considered as one of the most prominent qualities that great leaders possess, another key innate ability is Confidence. Confidence is among the traits of great leaders, confidence cannot be taught; confidence for most great leaders is inborn.

Francisco Dao in his article wrote– “Without Confidence there is no leadership; leadership is about having the confidence to make decisions. If someone is afraid to make and commit to decisions, all of the communication and empowerment in the world won’t make a squat of difference”. (Dao 2008) Another quality that great leaders are born with is Passion. Leaders always exhibit this quality in any area they find themselves. Being passionate about an idea, a project, a business is just learnt in the confines of the four walls of a classroom, it’s a trait that is inborn. Passionate leaders spread passion to others through their love of life, doing new things, taking risks, being motivated, having a sense of urgency, and reinventing self”. (Whitaker 2012) In addition to all that has been mentioned, one other great quality that buttress the point, leaders are born and not made is Optimism. This is an attribute that great leaders are born with, “Highly effective leaders have a transforming effect on their constituents: they have the gift of being able to convince others that they have the ability to achieve levels of performance beyond those they thought possible.

They move others from being stuck with “how things are done around here” and help them see “how things could be done better”” (Martinuzzi 2006) One of the most compelling qualities of a born leader is Tenacity. Tenacity is defined by Cambridge Dictionary Online, is the determination to continue what you are doing (Press 2011). Most born leaders are born with the ability to hold on to their beliefs and policies in the face of uncertainty. There are leaders born with these exceptional qualities that over centuries have influenced the human race, either positively or negative.

The impact of their leadership style will not be discussed, but emphasis will be laid on those outstanding in-born traits that propel them into the position of leadership. One of such naturally endowed leaders is Nelson Mandela. “Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Chief Henry Mandela of the Tembu Tribe. Mandela himself was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand and qualified in law in 1942.

He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies after 1948. Nelson Mandela’s reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom”. (The Nobel Peace Prize 1993 Nelson Mandela, F. W. de Klerk 1994).

Mandela’s inborn leadership qualities are as follows: Tenacity, Ambition, Honesty and Integrity, Result Oriented. Another notable leader whose leadership qualities will help in reinforcing the fact that leaders are born and not made is Martin Luther King Jnr. “Martin was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, US. He was the leader of the American Civil Rights Movement. During the initial years of his career, he became active in the Civil Rights Movement. He famously led the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was instrumental in founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

He was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Prize for his work in fighting racial discrimination with non-violent measures, at the age of 35. He gave a religious angle to his struggle against poverty and opposition to the Vietnam War. ” (Oak 2011) Martin Luther King’s in-born leadership qualities are: Tenacity, Determination, Honesty and Integrity. In addition to Martin Luther King Jnr and Nelson Mandela, as great leaders, born with in-born qualities, that propelled them to the zenith of leadership, it won’t be appropriate at this point to highlight the qualities of a business leader in Donald Trump.

A gifted self-publicist, Donald Trump is a rich property tycoon who achieved notoriety for his flamboyant style in the 1980s. Despite being declared bankrupt in 1990, Trump has rebuilt his fortune and is currently thought to be worth around $1. 6 billion. The third generation of a business family, the young Trump assisted his father in ventures to build affordable housing. He had a good eye for business and after school Trump went to study finance at Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. When he left, his chief resolve was ‘to do’ real estate on a larger scale than his father”. AETN 2005) His in-born leadership qualities are: Result Oriented, Passion, and Tenacity. “It is clear that leadership is a very demanding activity and that leaders who have the requisite traits—drive, desire to lead, self-confidence, honesty (and integrity), cognitive ability, and industry knowledge—have a considerable advantage over those who lack these traits. Without drive, for example, it is unlikely that an individual would be able to gain the expertise required to lead an organization effectively, let alone implement and work toward long-term goals”. (Locke 1991) In

Conclusion, Leaders that have these wonderful inborn abilities, and traits, are easily propelled to the pedestal of leadership, because the basic qualities which serves as the foundational skills required of a leader, comes easily, compared to those that took time to learn and develop these traits. “Leaders do not have to be great men or women by being intellectual geniuses or omniscient prophets to succeed, but they do need to have the “right stuff” and this stuff is not equally present in all people” (Locke 1991). We need to “remember though that there isn’t a perfect leader and there isn’t a magic formula or one perfect model of a leader.

Leaders are as much defined by the opportunity as they are by their traits, i. e. issues faced by one organization might require more empathy and personal conviction while issues faced by another might require more creativity and inspirational ability”. (Earley 2010). Effective leadership is not constricted to inborn qualities alone, there are other indices that are used to measure the effectiveness of a leader, but these inborn traits are the pointers, if properly monitored and nurtured, will reveal the next great leader.


Whitaker, Mary Kay. Leadership Skills #2: Great Leaders Ignite Passion. January 10, 2012. http://www. aboutleaders. com/bid/116474/Leadership-Skills-2-GreatLeaders-Ignite-Passion (accessed September 21, 2012). AETN. DONALD TRUMP BIOGRAPHY. 2005. http://www. thebiographychannel. co. uk/biographies/donald-trump. html (accessed September 21, 212). Ashoka’s Youth Venture. Youth Venture. 2009. http://www. genv. net/enus/dream_it/team_building/what_leader (accessed 09 18, 2012). Earley, Michael Carson and Chris. Can Leadership Be Taught? Michael Carson and Chris Earley. October 2010. ttp://www. inmagazine. cgsm. org/indepth/twoviews? p=all (accessed September 21, 2012). EDBERG, HENRIK. 25 Great Quotes on Leadership. 2006. http://www. positivityblog. com/index. php/2007/07/06/25-great-quotes-onleadership/ (accessed 09 21, 2012). Dao, francisco. Without Confidence, there is no Leadership. March 1, 2008. http://www. inc. com/resources/leadership/articles/20080301/dao. html (accessed September 21, 2012). Locke, Shelley A. Kirkpatrick and Edwin A. “Leadership: do traits matter? ” Academy of Management Executive (Academy of Management

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