Leadership Born or Learned

Often times we have think that great leaders were taught to be that way.  Maybe they had great mentors received some specialized training or were able to attend some of the finest private schooling and post secondary education in the world.  Is this plausible? Sure, but is it likely that all great leaders had this advantage?

I espouse the belief that great leaders are born with the necessary skills to great leaders and environmental variables help them hone those skills. I do not believe and cannot fathom that a great leader that did not have the foundational attributes of leadership was able to become a great leader.  Can you believe that Aristotle, Socrates, Plato were not born or predestined to be great leaders and honed those skills through external variables?  What about General Colin Powell, Jack Welch, and or even powerful leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or our President Barak Obama?  These leaders have been defined as some of the greatest leaders in the past or present. I would argue that they were born or predestined to be the leaders they became – not taught.

I recognize that there probably could be arguments pro and con for this discussion however, my point of contention is that no matter what you become, you have innate attributes that will be manifested in that journey.  A leopard cannot be a lion it can only be the best leopard (or lion) it can be.  I have the privilege and honor of serving this country in the United States Army and have come across many great managers and/or leaders (different conversation for another day) and in contrast I have come across many bad managers/leaders.  This has been in my role as a Drill Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, and in my latter years First Sergeant. I have been able to be mentored by some great leaders and I have been able to mentor some good leaders, but the one thing in common is the passion and internal wherewithal to build on the things they already knew they had the aptitude for.  Let’s be honest, if you are good in math in your early years, you will be good in math through whatever level of formal education you achieve – some just get it and others do not.  This is not to say one person is good and the other is bad, it is what it is.

I will always contend that leadership is an innate characteristic that is brought out through experiences and training, something that cannot be taught.  I will expound upon this notion in future articles and provide solid support for my view.

Stay tuned.