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Are Leaders Born or Made?

Abstract

This paper outlines the traits of born or made leaders that may state why and why not either of the two may be effective. Many organizations are usually concerned with the value of leadership because it determines performance levels in various ways. In the quest to identify good leaders, therefore, there are many definitions of leaders based on qualities they exhibit, their characters and skills possessed that have been put forth. As a standard practice, leadership usually requires some desirable characteristics mostly meant to mobilize people towards the stated objectives.

Successful leadership is mostly gauged through the level of achievement in organizations. For modern organizations, there are usually many interrelated components that need a careful balance for overall success. The ability to find the right balance usually demands that leaders be knowledgeable and able to make informed decisions. As opposed to natural intelligence, knowledge is acquired through learning and constant training. This is why it is easy to state that leaders are mostly made than born.

Introduction

Many organizations are usually concerned with the value of leadership because it determines performance levels in various ways. In the quest to identify good leaders, there are many definitions of leaders as a result, which are based on qualities they exhibit, their characters and skills possessed that have been put forth. As a standard practice, leadership usually requires some desirable characteristics mostly meant to mobilize people towards the stated objectives. Successful leadership is mostly gauged through the level of achievement in organizations.

Irrespective of an individual’s background, a good leader is usually required or expected to set smart objectives and mobilize all the required resources in attaining them. In most cases, development usually overrules natural abilities since each organization has specific leadership requirements.

However, there has been debate on whether leaders are born to be so or can be made through a learning or development process (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). To determine whether leadership is inborn or acquired through experience, it is important to understand the common traits of good leaders and how they relate to the characteristics of born leaders on the one hand and made leaders on the other.

Leadership Traits

There are many traits usually attached to good leaders. For instance, effective leaders are usually expected to be risk-takers, bold, and assertive. Leaders are always at the forefront by seeking to get things done within the required standards. Most of the good leaders have been, in fact, known to push their subjects beyond the expected limits just to attain the set targets.

Leaders are also associated with the ability to be intelligent. An intelligent leader is able to understand the situation of his or her subjects in addition to the circumstances in which the organization is operating. In addition, this type of leader is also able to survey all the prevailing circumstances within internal and external environments and come up with decisions that promote the success of the organization (Arvey, Zhang, Avolio, & Kreuger, 2007).

Leadership is usually evaluated through personality traits. The main categories are the introverts as well as the extroverts. While introverts are usually associated with the development of their subjects through the involvement of all, the extroverts are likely to communicate effectively to the subjects and show more social intelligence characteristics. Therefore, personality and gained experience usually go hand in hand in defining leadership styles and effectiveness. However, it is important to understand the specific traits of born leaders on the one hand and made ones on the other, to be able to arrive at a specific conclusion on whether either of the two makes effective leaders.

Inborn Abilities

For born leaders, there are many characteristics that have been associated with them that may be attractive to many. First, these categories of leaders show extroversion. As a result, they are able to mobilize or command people through their ability to communicate what is needed to be done within the organization. Secondly, born leaders also show a higher degree of conscientiousness.

As a result, they are mostly able to come up with good plans, are achievement-oriented, do not give up on their course easily, and are also reliable. Born leaders can also be said to be open to new challenges or experiences. In addition, they possess emotional stability and are generally intelligent (Hughes, Ginnett & Curphy, 2012).

All these qualities suggest that born leaders may be reliable when pushing for organizational success. However, it cannot be stated with a totality that organizations only need the mentioned traits or qualities for performance excellence. This brings in the issue of made or bread leaders, as outlined in the following section.

Developed Skills

In any organization, learning is usually an important factor in obtaining perfection. As a result, it is generally common to find that there has been a lot of emphases given to the social development of all employees. Made leaders are usually rich in developed skills that are continued to be perfected with time in line with the specific challenges and requirements of a given organization.

As a result, they usually possess different character traits or qualities when compared to those who may be born leaders. First, through learning, developed leaders commonly show a high degree of development in the area of written and oral skills for effective communication within the organization and externally. They are able to articulate the issues affecting all components of operations and management since they have learned all processes and procedures of doing so.

Secondly, trained or experienced leaders are likely to gain the confidence required for the inspiration and influence of others. This has been commonly referred to as being charismatic. Since they have learned the best ways of interacting with others, they are more likely to address the issues affecting each member of the organization.

This usually gives the members confidence in them, and hence they command great following. As it is known, good leaders are the ones able to work through and with people. Made leaders are also good in social capabilities and cultural intelligence (Kotter, 2001). Through training and experience, they are able to not only point out the issues affecting all stakeholders but are also able to recognize the differences in cultural backgrounds that affect the normal functioning of the organization.

Born or Made?

As a result, the bigger question is that of whether effectiveness lies within the traits of a made leader or a born one. To answer this question, it is important to understand that there are many dynamics that affect the nature of leadership and hence the traits of leaders needed. Each organization may require a specific type of leader and, therefore, there might not be any standard qualities that may be prescribed for leaders. Consequently, an effective leader is one that understands and appreciates the unique workings of the organization. In most cases, learning and experience frequently go beyond the natural skills possessed by people.

There are many arguments that intelligence usually comes as an inborn trait. However, it is also important to note that sometimes intelligence may be acquired through a continuous learning process and a mastery of the environment in which the individual operates.

For many organizations, whether profit, not for profit or simply governmental, developed, or learned traits usually are the most effective. As a result, it is usually notable that good leadership skills are developed through transitory processes. In this way, individuals are not only able to work with people but are able to understand the nature and influences of humans that require them to be handled in certain ways for them to work effectively for the organization. As a result, it is correct to state that leaders are mostly made than born.

Conclusion

Born leaders are usually the best individuals to work with because of their natural enthusiasm for goal setting and attainment. However, there are many instances where this type of leadership has failed because there was a lack of understanding of how organizations interact with both internal and external environments. For modern organizations, there are usually many interrelated components that need a careful balance for overall success (Joan, 2010).

The ability to find this right balance usually demands the leaders to be knowledgeable and able to make informed decisions. As opposed to natural intelligence, knowledge is acquired through learning and constant training. This is why it is easy to state that leaders are mostly made than born. Even when an individual shows good leadership potential, it is also through learning that perfection is achieved.

References

Arvey, R. D., Zhang, Z., Avolio, B. J., & Kreuger, R.F. (2007). Developmental and genetic determinants of leadership role occupancy among women. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 693-706.

Hughes, R., Ginnett, R., & Curphy, G. (2012). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience (7th Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Joan F. (2010). “Awakened leaders: born or made?” Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 31(4), 307 – 323.

Kotter, J. P. (2001). What leaders really do. Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 85-96.

Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z. (2012). The leadership challenge (5th Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.