Type “Are Great Leaders Born or Made?” into Google’s search engine and the results are staggering. With more than 16 million articles, books, blogs, and other online material on the subject, it’s evident this topic is a popular debate. Yet, what if the question was not an either/or . . . what if leaders are both?
Everyone has heard the saying, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” From grade school teachers to professional life coaches and business magazines, this theme is stated over and over; it’s the root of the American Dream, and the inspiration for many CEOs and entrepreneurs.
Leaders Are Born
Everyone is born with the ability to accomplish greatness; however, it’s vital to develop the skills to achieve full potential. Whether teaching a young person leadership, financial and management skills for the first time, or training an employee, it’s important to develop a culture encouraging continued growth.
Leaders Are Made
Encouraging future leaders is important . . . so is allowing leaders to make mistakes. Many leaders admit to having made mistakes, and many declare those mistakes helped make them better leaders. Michael Dell, Houston-native and founder of DELL, once said, “Recognize that there will be failures, and acknowledge that there will be obstacles. But you will learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others, for there is very little learning in success.”
Mistakes are tough, but essential in the leadership process. Learning the skills of a great leader is important, and experience, good or bad, influences strong leadership growth.
The Economics of Leadership
Most often, companies with the best leadership are those with the most financial success. As a CEO or business leader, the primary goal is economic success of any organization, and having an engaged workforce helps make that happen. Resilient leadership is vital to keeping teams productive and effective and the strength of skills a leader embodies are often the driving force behind the success of many teams. Key leadership skills include decisiveness, empathy, confidence, optimism, integrity, and focus, and often society sees these attributes as moral instincts and learned behavior. Supporting the question: are leaders made or born, or both?
Leaders are Both
Leadership is a decision. Being willing to guide and direct others begins with the decision to step up and lead. Yet, being an effective leader and embodying the necessary leadership qualities also takes a commitment to grow, develop, and mature. Often times, leaders are born with these skills, or they are established at a young age, through interactive, educational activities and modeled behavior. Yet, sometimes these skills were developed in adulthood as opportunities to showcase a passion or vision.
Having the passion to make a difference is the first step in leadership development. Leadership skills can be natural or learned, solidifying the theory that leaders are both.
Gayle Reaume is CEO and Founder of Moolah U, an educational program focused on developing financial literacy and leadership skills in young adults. A graduate of the Texas State ACTiVATE program for women CEOs, Gayle has 30 years of experience in small business, business coaching and public speaking. Gayle’s commitment to developing passionate and effective young leaders drives the success of the Moolah U program.
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