Are leaders born or made?

24 Mar 2021

After years of hard work and study, you made it. You graduated, found a good job with room to grow, a good salary and a motivated team. You may worry that it is too early for you to lead or you may take up the opportunity with no hesitation, eager to dive into this new and thrilling work experience. That hunger will be useful – not only for a leader, but also as a worker. As a leader, your job is to keep the team motivated and guide them in the right direction. But keep in mind that you are still part of that same team. To be a leader you must own several qualities, but the traits for a worker not forgotten or lost. Who is a leader? Take a look at how people have described leadership: 

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” -John Maxwell

“To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing less.” - Andre Malraux

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” - Bill Gates

These quotes have one main similarity: a leader is never alone, and the team is what makes up a leader. 

Leaders. Born or made?

This has been a question that has been repeatedly questioned over the years, but there is no straight answer to it. To attempt answering this question, we must revisit the question: what and who is a leader? Can anyone be a leader? We see leaders everywhere we go – on football pitches, dressing rooms, businesses and classrooms, but can anyone take up the role to lead successfully? Some psychologists suggest that leaders are likely to be made, rather than born. In order to be a leader, you must own a set of very complex skills and you need to have the personality. How is this achieved? Through experiences, self-development and training. 

Nigel Green, CEO and founder of deVere Group, in a conversation with his son James Green, said that a leader is someone is who is a role-model and an inspiration and does things the right way. “A leader is somebody who leads from the front, who is inspirational: one that can see the vision and take people to the future.” This goes back to the previous definitions of leaders – the essential connection between leaders and their team. James adds on that a good leader is one who can manage different types of people – the team is made up of multiple types of people with different personalities. “Some people need kick and some people need a cuddle,” James points out. He goes on to say that leader have got to have the ability to adapt – to know what is going on, anticipate and adapt accordingly. “People who are successful have a growth mindset,” Nigel says.   

Does this mean that anyone who is shy, or an introvert cannot be a leader? Not really. People with these inborn characteristics can use them as an advantage, but others can learn to become confident, exclaim opinions and manage people. The secret to leading is to never stop learning. “True leaders ensure they continue to develop their leadership skills throughout their careers, through learning and development materials and activities,” business coach Hugo Heij says. It is never too late! 

Leading from home?

Team leaders have faced a new challenge last year that is still ongoing to the present day. The pandemic has forced most employees to work from home, therefore, it is a bigger struggle to lead and keep an overview of what is going on. But how tough is this and is it manageable? This relates to what Nigel Green said about leaders being adaptable. Let’s face the facts: remote working lacks face-to-face supervision, can be more distracting and can isolate workers – leading to mental illness. Therefore, a leader here must be more approachable to his or her colleagues. Having the right apps to work will benefit the production but leaders should keep contact with their team. One could make sure to call everyone and check them or make it a habit to hold a virtual call and have a cup of tea together every Friday afternoon to catch up and talk. Do not stick to email. Pick up the phone and call. It will not only help to clarify but will also help maintain the relationship between you and your team. Such ideas will not only help you strengthen the bond with your team, but also help motivate them.