Are Leaders Born or Made?

Are Leaders Born or Made?


I have good news! Scientists have decoded every single part of human DNA and they did not find any so-called leadership gene, nor is there an entrepreneurship gene. So how is it that some people are natural leaders?

I’ve learned through trial and error that there are definitely people who come across as natural leaders while others do not.

When You Have Some Talent, But Not Much

Skills are spread across the population in a bell curve with a small number of people already equipped with skills without any training or effort invested, like your old school-mates who were very artistic, musical or sporty. They were talented and this gave them a head start. However, the majority of people are in the middle, in the 70% – 80% bell, having some level of talent, but not too much.

Related: 6 Funny Leadership Tips That You Should Actually Follow

On the other hand there were the school-mates who were chosen last for the football team, (like me), who were not able to draw a straight line or sing a single note.

There were the ones nobody listened to when they spoke up, and therefore nobody followed them. Those are the people on the other end of the ‘leadership’ bell curve.

The Natural Born Leaders

But let’s look at these “natural born leaders”. As with every talent, be it in sports or playing the piano, it will only bring you so far. If you don’t work on your craft than your talent alone will never be sufficient to make you excellent!

Do you believe the marathon world record holder, gifted with an insane amount of running talent, would set a world record with that talent alone? He trains like a world champion and due to his world class talent, he can win! Without focus, dedication and constant improvement there is no world class performance.

Listen up, this is the chance for the mere mortals like you and I. Through understanding what leadership really means and by applying that understanding we can eventually become outstanding managers. You can become leaders that are more respected and increasingly followed than our ‘natural born’ leaders, especially if they rest on their talent and don’t invest in it.

It’s All About The Work

No matter where you start you can become a great leader and entrepreneur, if you work on it. Why work at leadership? It’s about inspiring people, finding the best people, communicating, delegating, and being focused and persistent. Many inspiring people are not only inspiring because of their own skills. They are inspiring because they are inspired by others.

In order to become a great leader you must first invest in yourself. Then you must challenge and question yourself in order to learn, practice and ultimately improve. Not every natural born leader hears his calling. If you make leadership your calling, you can succeed.

Here are a few steps to follow to make yourself a great leader:

Learn to really understand yourself

You have to dare to look into the mirror and see yourself with all of your positive and negative aspects.

Take complete responsibility for your private and business life

If you do this, you will never say ‘because they did’ again. You shape your destiny. I can’t promise you that you can achieve everything you can imagine, but you can achieve so much more than you think you can if you start to take responsibility.

Continuously and relentlessly add more and more skills to your box of leadership skills

You are never done learning because the world evolves constantly.

Surround yourself with great people

People who inspire you and who you in turn inspire. Start with one person and continuously add to the group.

Periodically go back to step one

and re-examine yourself.

Don’t compare yourself with others

It only makes you feel bad.

Related: Please Don’t Start a Mentoring Programme in your Company (Unless You Do it Right)

Axel Rittershaus
Axel Rittershaus is an internationally renowned C-Level / Executive Coach & Author who started as an entrepreneur in the IT industry in 1993. He knows that success is the result of hard work and determination even more than innate talent. A master of maintaining focus and follow-through, Axel supports C-Level leaders globally in achieving goals. Axel is dedicated and passionate to see clients succeed beyond their expectations. Axel is also the president of the International Coach Federation South Africa and a multiple Two Oceans and Comrades finisher. You can follow him on twitter.