Leaders Are Made Not Born

For years we’ve heard the expression, “leaders are born, not made.”  Yes, some people have gifts or natural tendencies we attribute to leadership. But leaders are more often made (or developed) not born. Some of the thought leaders in the study of leadership development agree.

Most leadership development is self-directed learning that starts with our seeing the person we want to be (the ideal you), and comparing that image to who we are (the real you). Then we create an intentional plan to build on our strengths while minimizing the gaps.

The next step is to experiment or practice the new behaviors or feelings and skills, and develop them further as needed to attain our goals. This is like exercising new muscles. During our development, we can leverage our most trusting relationships to talk, evaluate and gain supportive feedback. This feedback can help us move toward the ideal behaviors we want to adopt.

According to Dan Goleman (Emotional Intelligence expert), behavior change requires creating new neural pathways to reeducate our emotional brain. While it takes a little longer, our limbic brain being a little slower, we can develop and change throughout adulthood and the change is more likely to stick.  What a hopeful concept.


Adapted from Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee, 2004)


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