Are Leaders Born or Made?



Welcome again to 3-2-1 Take Action, where we share 3 thoughts on Leadership, 2 tips and 1 action point to help you take your leadership to the next level!


Here are the 3 thoughts for today, they come in form of questions:

  1. Are leaders born or are they made?

  2. Can everyone become a leader?

  3. Will everyone become a leader?


Are Leader Born or Are They Made?


It is very likely you would have heard a version of this question before. I love the way John Maxwell answered this question. He said, “I've never met anyone who wasn't born”.


I hope you got the joke! Everyone on the face of the earth has been born. So, for anyone to rise to their full leadership potential, they are not just born, they have to be ‘made’.


This reminds me of my own leadership journey. While I was in primary school (or elementary school), I noticed that when we were on the playground, trying to figure out the rules for new games, my friends would look to me to tell them what the rules should be. I would almost intuitively come up with something and it was quite shocking for me to see that literally anything I said became the rule.


Anybody observing then would have said, “Wow, this boy is a born leader”. However, moving forward to when I got into secondary school (high school), we were on the playground again and I got into my same ‘leader’ mode trying to define the rules for the game when someone just blurted out -- “Why do you think you can be the one telling us what to do?”


It was a rude shock for me as this was the first time that my ‘leadership authority’ was being challenged. That experience made me withdraw and become reserved for my remaining years in secondary school.


Thankfully, when I got into the University, I was thrown into the deep end of leading a student group (called CFI), from my second year, all the way to my fifth year. Over those four years of leading the group, I learned a lot about leadership. I was exposed to materials and training conferences on leadership and had the opportunity of applying those leadership skills within the student group I was leading.


This experienced coupled with the opportunity of working in global organizations (like KPMG and Deloitte) have enabled me to lead this coaching and consulting business.


With this story I shared, I’m sure the answer to this first question is becoming clearer: “Yes, some of us may have stronger leadership traits than others when we're born, but for any of us to experience our full leadership potentials, we all need to develop them”. Talking about how to develop leadership potentials is a different discussion by itself. (we’ll share more on this in future posts, so please stay connected!)

For anyone to rise to their full leadership potential, they are not just born, they have to be made.

Can Everyone Become a Leader?


Picking from the story I shared earlier, the answer is “Yes, everyone can become a leader because the life skills involved in leadership are available for anyone to learn. There is nothing complicated about leadership once you understand the techniques and the tips involved. Yes, some of us will become more effective leaders than others but everybody can become a better version of themselves when it comes to leadership.


Will Everyone Become a Leader?


This question is asking if everyone will have an opportunity to lead. I can imagine some people might respond ‘No’ because they think not everyone will head a team or have people report to them. But if you paused to reflect more on the word ‘leadership’ we can answer that question better.

As John Maxwell often says: “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”. With this simply profound definition we can reword the question as: “Will everyone have an opportunity to influence somebody else?” And the answer to this is ‘Yes’. This will happen not because everyone will have a position of authority, but because everyone will have the opportunity to influence somebody else, either negatively or positively.

As we wrap up, here are my two quick tips for you:


Tip 1:

Your effectiveness as a leader is directly linked to how well you’re developing your leadership potential. Leadership does not develop in a day, it develops daily (John Maxwell).

Tip 2: Opportunities to lead (influence other people) are always around you, the more you sharpen your mind to leadership the more you can identify and take advantage of those opportunities

Action Step

Find out how effective your current leadership abilities are. If you took a leadership assessment recently, how have you acted on the development areas? Reach out to us if you would like us to help with these action points.

Remember it’s the knowledge that you act upon that makes the difference so TAKE ACTION!


Share this post with someone you think it can help. Watch a related video on this to reinforce the things shared.

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