Healthy Leaders


Are Leaders Born or Made? (from Leadership)

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

For years, people have debated whether leaders are born or made. We can identify four main schools of thought:

  1. The “born-leader” idea. This approach asserts that genes are the major forces behind leadership. You are either a “born-leader” or you are not. Since the “right genes” are relatively rare, effective leaders are too. Of course, we all know that some people are “born-leaders”: leadership comes very easily and naturally to them.
  2. The “early childhood” school. According to this view, the most important factor in whether someone becomes a leader is his early childhood development. Since the “right family” is also rare, great leaders are too.
  3. The “gifted-leader” school. This view contends that leadership is a supernatural gift that is only given by God to a few. 
  4. The “life experiences” idea. According to this belief, leadership is learned through experiences. Consequently, we can almost “create” leaders simply by giving them the right training or exposing them to the right life experiences. (This is a very popular view today.)

As you probably already realize, a balanced position would accept that all people have untapped leadership potential – to some degree. There are clear differences due to nature (i.e. genes) and nurture (i.e. early developmental experiences in life) as to how much untapped potential there may be in a particular individual. Furthermore, there is no doubt that the experiences of life (such as work experiences, hardships, opportunities, education, role models and mentors) all go together in the crafting of an individual leader. Moreover, the specific calling and gifting of God differ from person to person. 

However, no matter what level of leadership ability a person currently demonstrates, he or she can make quantum improvements.

Leadership is in all of us. With learning and practice we can all do better.

This is not to suggest that everyone is called to be an “organizational leader” such as pastor or business executive – someone with a formal, positional status of “leader.” We all have very different callings (1 Cor. 12). However, there are several pervasive kinds of leadership:

Thus, while we are not all called to be formal, “organizational leaders,” there are many contexts in our lives in which we all are, nevertheless, “leaders.”

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