Leadership Myth #1: “Leaders are born, not made”
This is the age-old question on Leadership: is it nature or nurture?
There seem to be a whole lot of conflicting messages out there on the endless debate of whether or not a great leader is one who has inherited the leadership gene. When scientists finally discovered that the Earth was indeed not flat but orange-shaped, the mystery was solved and that was that. Yet, whilst we await the final verdict on the "truth" about leaders and the wiring of their brains, I wonder just how keen we really ought to be on being labeled one way or the other, and would it really be doing us a favour to be labeled "leader" or "follower"?
What if leadership was first and foremost about a behavioural trait called attitude? What if what makes great leaders is their positive attitude to learning and managing change, to leading others and making decisions, towards core working values and honouring these in the everyday workplace? In other words
if, for instance, we don't have a sense of ownership, no matter whether our brains are "leader-wired" or not, how can we be a great leader and inspire and move others into action? Again, if we don't have a sense of responsibility & duty, what kind of consistency and continuum would we bring to the work place and which are key to being a great leader? How about the importance of attitude towards communicating and connecting with your team as a leader?
A top manager recently said to me:
"50% of a Productive Team is made up of common sense", (and the rest is divided between the drive for results, a clear process and content knowledge). So considering a productive team is what a great leader relies on in order to lead effectively, maybe we ought to be spending more energy cultivating and applying our common sense in the workplace – and building this skill of sound judgment from the information we perceive as a result of having the "right" attitude.
Now wouldn't that be leading the way, rather than abiding by those who judge our ability to stand out and be a truly effective and inspirational leader? Maybe in the end, leaders are made, not born.