Leaders Made or Leaders Born


One of the more intriguing arguments is whether or not Leaders Made or Leaders Born.   This topic has been debated for many years.  Today, I want to share with you some research that I found on the subject.   This information will help you decide which side of the argument you are on: Leaders Made Or Leaders Born.


An overused cliché is sport is “He is a natural born leader”.   This phrase was used to describe Michael Jordan and other professionals in sports.  John Kotter, Ph.D, Leadership researcher in a 20 year study of Harvard Business School graduates found two elements that stood out within the graduates.  The two elements were “Competitive Drive” and “Lifelong Learning”.    He found that people seemed to be born with Competitive Drive.  He also found that people with Lifelong Learning were made.

Data Supporting Born

Richard Arvey, a researcher, conducted a study of Twins in the state of Minnesota.  He studied 646 identical and non-identical twins.  The study concluded that 39% of leadership abilities were genetic.

Entrepreneur Magazine featured an article that identified the 5 Traits of a Leader.  The five traits of a leader are the following:

  • Vision
  • Passion
  • Great Decision Maker
  • Team Builder
  • Character

Data Supporting Made

I am of the opinion that leaders are made.  I really like this quote from Vince Lombardi — “Leaders are made, they are not born.  They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile”.   I recently read a very good book titled “The 108 Skills of Natural Born Leaders” that was authored by Warren Blank.   The book broke the 108 skills into three competencies.  

The three competencies are the following:

  • Foundational
  • Leadership Direction
  • Leadership Influence Skills. 
  • Within each competency is a group of skills that are relevant within the competency as follows:
    • Foundational Skills (Expand self awareness, build rapport, Clarify Expectations)
    • Leadership Direction Skills (identify need to lead, Map Course, Develop Others)
    • Leadership Influence Skills (Build Base of Commitment, Influence Others to Follow, Creating Motivating Environment)

3 Ideas to consider to Develop Leadership Skills

I found these three ideas for you to consider regarding developing leadership skills:

  • Develop a son or daughter and encourage participation in School Activities
    A study by done by the Minnesota State High School League surveyed 4,800 students.  The study found that 91% of students who participate in school activities tend to be school leaders and role models.  
    • Develop Yourself and Join Toastmasters
      Toastmasters International is an organization whose mission is “provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth”.  They have an education track for developing skills as a Leader.  The leadership track consists of completing a manual that contains 10 projects in the Competent Leadership manual.  There are two additional awards that can be achieved in Toastmasters.  The two additional awards are Advanced Leader Bronze and Advanced Leader Silver.
    • Develop Yourself – Lifelong Learning
      The following are just a sampling of ideas that can be used to develop your leadership skills: job rotation, college courses, self-study, leadership development programs, in-house training, online development, books.


I recommend that you consider adopting or moving towards lifelong learning.  Leaders are Made. This will ensure that you stay current and continue to develop yourself.  I will leave you with this Chinese Proverb:

“Telling Me, I Forget;  Showing Me, I Remember, Involving Me, I Understand”