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Leaders are Made not Born

The age-old question of history asks "Are leaders made or born?"  I don't know the answer and could argue for both sides. On the eve of my 51st birthday, I am reflecting about my own life and leadership around this question.  One of my favorite movies is Braveheart because it shows the heart of a leader regardless if he was made or born a leader. Q Leaders are Made Braveheart.001

If I were pressed to choose if leaders were either made or born I would go with leaders are made.  This reflection may help you consider benefits of this view.   Here are some of the ways I have been made into a leader at least in the first half of my life.

  • Having a younger brother taught me how to take care of those in my care when kids tried to pick on him.
  • Playing basketball taught me how to work on a team.
  • Playing soccer taught me how to learn a new skill quickly when the first string player got hurt.
  • Being a Boy Scout taught me so many life and outdoors skills along with how to treat poison ivy.
  • Singing in the choir at church made me a leader who could perform in front of an audience and overcome fear.
  • Not having money in middle school motivated me to start a lawn care business on Scott Valley Road.
  • Pledging Sigma Chi fraternity at Samford University taught me how to relate to different personality types.
  • Reading biographies of great leaders is a way I have learned from someone else's experience.
  • Observing leaders and avoiding their mistakes and capitalizing on their strengths.
  • Working a job out of college which I hated to clarify what my life calling would be.
  • Being a father of six boys is some of the greatest leadership development I ever had!

Thinking about leaders being made rather than born does something inside us which brings benefits.

  • We take ownership of our development as leaders.
  • We aggressively seek out wisdom, knowledge and skills to grow as leaders.
  • We figure out our unique leadership style even though we don't fit the stereotypical leader profile.
  • We associate with other leaders to learn from them.
  • We step up and take risks instead of shrinking back in fear.
  • We try and fail but keep on going.
  • We resist fatalism and cynicism and seek to make a positive contribution.
  • We are more concerned about others and helping them be successful.

I'm thankful that when I was 12 years old nobody told me the myth that "Leaders are born".  If I had believed that, I would not be where I am today.  Even if it is true that leaders are born, there is something powerful when we believe "leaders are made".

What are some of the benefits you have experienced from having the "Leaders are made" mindset?