We often hear the saying that some people are ‘born to lead’ but is that really true? The adage of nature versus nurture is as old as time, and unfortunately it seems the debate is as true as ever when it comes to leadership skills.
Like some people seem to have innate musical abilities, or possess athletic prowess from the get-go, so it can seem that some people are ready made leaders. We all know the type. Those who just seem to seamlessly rule the room, adopting and succeeding in their positions as they go.
However, it’s unlikely they’ve been dominating the social spheres since nursery. Rather time and experience (even those unassuming moments in your memory that you might want to gloss over) have come together to build a seemingly natural leadership persona. If you looked closer you’d often see a simple mix of self-confidence, communication skills, motivation, and initiative – drawn from learned experience. Dr. Michael Maccoby, business advisor, believes that every leader needs thee inherent qualities – purpose, passion courage. Beyond this, he believes that leadership can be taught.
Popular culture may like to present us with idea of people being practically preordained to be leaders and succeed. Figures like Alan Sugar and Oprah Winfrey, who seemingly appear to have had from a young age the drive and skills to lead. But then, if leadership skills are inherent shouldn’t we see a whole plethora of leaders in their families? That’s not the case here though.
This generalised social concept has programmed some people from early on, to internalise the message that they don’t have the skills engrained in them, to believe that’s not who they are. In reality it’s not an actual lack of inherited skill that is in their way – it’s themselves. They have become a self-made prophecy.
Leadership skills can be learned form many places and in a plethora of different ways. Laura Maloney, writing for Forbes, believes that leadership qualities can be gleaned form immersing ourselves in nature.
Ultimately, the real thing to take note of, and the thing every true leader should be able to tell you, is a moment where they failed. A moment their skills fell short.
That’s because the true marker of a leader, and supporter of the argument that leadership skills are learnt, is the ability to learn from mistakes and improve on leadership skills. Otherwise, how would a leader, for example someone like Richard Branson, still be where they are today? People’s perceptions of good leadership skills change, and accordingly, the people behind them must be willing to evolve too, or else they run the risk of stagnating and disengaging the very people they seek to influence and support.
In any provocative subject matters like this, there are exceptions of course. But with proper training and self-reflection, many more people can develop leadership skills. Being self-aware enough to take the steps to learn leadership skills and the willingness to put in the effort is what really matters most.
If you’d like to take the next step in your own leadership journey, Catalyst can help. We provide targeted coaching services for business leaders to get to the top of their game and achieve outstanding personal and business growth. Get in touch to find out more.