Are good leaders born or made?
Revisiting the nature versus nurture leadership debate
There are many who believe that good leadership is a function of one’s natural characteristics and predispositions. This view is consistent with the claims that assert that the best leaders and managers have differently programmed brains and thus have genetic traits of good leaders. These claims strive to prove leadership as partly hereditary and dismiss the belief that the skills can be acquired via nurturing. But the opposite view, that a good leader is a product of their environment, which in many cases can be designed to develop leaders, is also quite common.
So is it nature or nurture that determines whether someone will be a good leader? The truth is likely to lie somewhere in the middle. For while individual personality traits help you become a good leader, things like leadership and management development program (MDP), industry knowledge, experience, and training provided by an established b school are essential for any kind of professional success.
Leadership is not only taking control and being able to guide people but being able to relate to people also so one’s genes and natural traits are strong determinants of their personality and can go a long way towards determining the extent to which that individual relates and/or genuinely cares for others.
That said, most people in organisational leadership will tell you that experience and mentoring are the two key factors in producing a good leader. Essentially, if even if one believes that they have the drive, motivation, and talent to become a good leader, you should surround yourself with the right people and resources, and get on the path to becoming a leader right from today.
Als,o nurture can be an influence for life experiences can strengthen a person so that they learn to be a strong individual who wants to stand up for their beliefs and opinions and guide others to do the same. People have to understand their selves before they try to understand others. A leader has to take control of his or her emotions. Once they can control themselves they can more effectively guide others and be a leader.
Finally, functional skills and previous performnace are no guarantees of future leadership capability. Companies will only get the leadership qualities that they select and train for. So the question should be less about whether someone is a leader or not, but rather what kind of leader could they potentially be and preparing that person for the role.
The cost of promoting without leadership skills and then desperately seeking to equip people with adequate leadership skills can be high in human and economic terms. Well-designed internal leadership academies can help when they match enhanced leadership awareness and capability to actual business needs.