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Leadership – Nature versus Nurture

April 19, 2022

Are leaders born or made?

The age old argument of Nature Vs Nurture is a popular one when it comes to leadership. Are good leaders developed and nurtured or are certain individuals born to lead?

This is a topic that has come up many times at the Impellus office, and I think its fair to say we are split down the middle in our views.

Some of us are of the view that leadership is something that we are born with – it’s in our genes. Whilst others are adamant that we can learn the skills needed to be a great leader.

We often hear the phrase “natural born leader”…

…which would make you think that leadership is an innate skill some people have and others don’t.

I’m sure if you think back to the best leaders that you have had in your careers, chances are there was an effortlessness about their behaviour and attitude that felt, well, natural.

These natural-born leaders as we might call them, rose to the occasion because that’s just who they are.

Whether managing a growing business or leading a major corporation, leaders emerge by developing their natural talents.

However, leadership being an intrinsic intelligence rather than something that can be taught or learned is a notion that is outdated and limited in evidence.

This false impression of natural-born leaders originates from past conceptual frameworks stating that people are born with an innate wiring.

Trait Theory and the Great Man Theory were two of those frameworks that were built on the premise that leaders are born and not made.

The theories stated that people are born with the right abilities and traits, which cannot be learned, such as:

  • Intellect
  • Social skills
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Correct physiological attributes
  • Family background

In addition, the Great Man Theory followed the notion that leadership was only reserved for males.

Today, many of these characteristics are classified as soft skills and can be easily learnt through training and development.

The skill of leadership is no science, but more an art, which is perfected over over time through continuous learning.

Leadership is a lifetime pursuit, and along with personal and professional development, there is always room for improvement – to learn new skills, new ways to strengthen your management, and new techniques which can help you practice your leadership skills.

So how about instead of asking the question, “are leaders born or made?” Why don’t we ask…

How are leaders born? By being made?

To strengthen and develop your leadership skills and potentially learn something new, why not join one of our courses where we help improve those vital skills such as; communication, motivation, change management, delegation, team building and so much more.

 

Written by Alison Ibrahim – Senior Leadership and Management Trainer

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