Leadership: Innate or Learned?

Tags

Is leadership something we are born with and possess innately or is it a capacity we learn and develop later on in life?

To address this age-old question, we need to agree on what we mean by leadership. I think of a leader as anybody who has to or wants to influence the thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, and choices of another individual without resorting to their own power and status. If we think of leadership in this way, then we’re all leading every day of our lives.

We might be leading our partners in a relationship; we might be leading our children as parents; we might be leading our teams or our customers; we might be salespeople leading our prospects. Any time we try to influence other people, we are drawing on our leadership skills. And the better we are at leadership, the better we’re able to use those skills.

Anybody who has raised children knows that soon after they’re born, children are quite capable of influencing the way we feel and the way we think—our thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, and choices. While leadership is something we innately have, we also need to develop it throughout the course of our lives.

Just as we go to the gym to develop muscles that are already there, in the case of leadership development, we are developing a capacity that is already there. We want to get stronger, better, and become more effective. In leadership development, we work on the innermost parts of our being, because effective leadership is not about developing a box of tricks and a set of skills—it is about finding the greatness within us and learning how to project that greatness and use it to influence, inspire, and uplift other people.

As we develop our leadership skills and go deeper into understanding ourselves—knowing and understanding the greatness that within us—we strengthen the leadership capacity with which we are born. And in doing so, we are able to uplift the lives of others and enable their success.

April 15, 2019 | By David Lapin

In this piece, we expand on the second of six beliefs that organizations should change, according to Gallup’s forthcoming book, It’s the Manager. Belief #2: Millennials and Generation Z are no longer…

February 10, 2019 | By David Lapin

Leadership Development Programs can dilute the impact of high-performing leaders and companies, and achieve little or even negative returns on investment. Businesses need to compete; they need to opti…

August 30, 2019 | By Erin Clymer-Lessard

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell shares the story of the Getty museum’s kouros statue, a sixth century BC sculpture purchased in the early 1980s for $10 million (which would be just shy of $26 mil…

February 9, 2019 | By Dr. Michael Forlenza, PHD, MPH

Promoting successful subject matter experts into positions of leadership is a common and commonsense practice. However, once in place, these experts are often confronted with a dizzying series of scen…