Leadership sets the tone for team development, and this implies its necessity in an organization. Possessing appropriate leadership skills drive a team in meeting its objectives. The means of acquiring such skills may be through nature or developmental programs. The debate on whether leaders are made or born continues to trigger many thoughts, but none has come conclusively. This paper goes through the skills required for effective leadership, and how such skills can be acquired, in an attempt to solve the puzzle of the debate.
- Leaders are born and made.
The question as to whether leadership is genetically acquired or developed remains a debate for decades evoking many opinions. Some scholars are of the idea that leaders are born naturally intelligent, charismatic, visionary, strategic and able to rally and plan for teams around them. Some believe that leadership is an ongoing experience that requires training, development, mentoring and coaching. Some are of the opinion that leaders are both born and made whereby they possess natural intelligence, which is enhanced with education, training, and mentorship.
Developing a conclusive statement on this debate requires an understanding of leadership; a leader is an individual who establishes directions for a team of individuals, one who gains commitments from the team towards the established direction, and one who motivates the team to achieve the direction’s expected outcomes (Manktelow and Brodbeck, 2006). A leader needs not to exercise the three elements in a leader’s definition, in the eyes of other teams or fellow leaders. This is so because every team has its objectives and the means to attain the objectives differ amongst teams.
The implication is that to fit in different scenarios or teams an effective leader needs some intelligence, which cannot be attained by learning, but that which is a talent or acquired naturally. This is important in understanding the needs of every team and fitting into the needs of every team. In a majority of cases, naturally acquired skills and abilities play a crucial role in developing ones personality, interpersonal, and motivational skills, which motivates one to lead.
However, having leadership genes is not all; work experiences, education, mentorship, opportunities, and being a role model, are necessities that craft effective leadership. These are attained through learning, and from experiences. The implication is that leaders learn to lead through education programs, mentorship, experiences, and while playing different leadership roles (Kets, 2004).
Successful CEOs, like Bob McDonald of Procter & Gamble, Ginny Rometti of IBM, and John C. Maxwell started with a set of the team leading skills, and associated this with furthering their skills in different colleges. Such drives, ambitions, emotional stability, and extraverted personalities may develop genetically. However, possessing such traits does not mean that these leaders are effective; they learn from experiences and challenges, which demand developmental skills. To prepare for change of roles, they require prerequisite competencies so that they can communicate, shape strategies, solve problems, excel, and have the capability to inspire and motivate others (Manktelow and Brodbeck, 2006).
This, therefore, implies that leadership is acquired genetically, but requires to be nurtured if one is to be classified as an effective leader. Having leadership genes is not enough as such intelligence may not be diverse in meeting the needs of different groups. It requires nurturing, development and acquisition of skills so that one becomes flexible in coping with different personalities, and also motivates others (Kets, 2004).
Leadership is partly natural, partly nurtured and partly to self ability (Manktelow and Brodbeck, 2006). Most debaters’ in whether ‘leaders are born or made’ overlook the self creative ability and nurturing element in defining leadership. However, being a leader by nature does not make a leader. Additionally, the passion of leadership cannot be achieved through experiences, and other developmental programs; it requires a natural inspiration that comes from within an individual (Kets, 2004). Leadership, therefore, is both born and made.
Kets, V. M. F. R. (2004). Are leaders born or are they made?: The case of Alexander the Great. London: Karnac.
Manktelow, J., & Brodbeck, F. C. (2006). How to lead: Discover the leader within you. London: MindTools.