Are Leaders Born Or Made? Leadership Development 101: 5 Keys To Becoming A Remarkably Effective Leader

What Makes A Perfect Leader

This is a question that has been wandering my mind for many years, is there a way to create a leader? Or do we have trust in nature for this?

Whatever answer we can find, does this mean that bad leaders or authoritarians are nature’s fault or whoever made him a leader? Can we undo this? Is there such a thing as a leadership factory?

“Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.” – Simon Sinek

I did a little research about it and wanted to share the results with you, and also read your opinions on the subject.

What Is Leadership?

When I talk about leadership I am referring to the process whereby someone influences others to mobilize them towards a goal, no matter what the context is or the difficulty of the task.

In order to mobilize a group of people, whether that means a group of coworkers, students, family members, voters, a sport’s team, or even protestors, a good leader needs certain characteristics and to project a certain image.

A business leader, for example, may not necessarily look, talk or act like the type of leader a student’s group needs. In the other hand, a student leader may not behave like a company leader or a sport’s leader either.

Seems then that leadership has a lot to do with projecting yourself toward people with similar values, and since values are not exactly genetic, leadership may not entirely rely on biology.

Is There A Leadership Gene?

Scientists have been looking for this gene for many years, and so far, they haven’t stumbled upon one single gene that could actually determine someone’s leadership.

However, they have found some evidence of leadership been related to dopamine levels; dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for making our brain feel happy, it works like a reward system: we do something and our brain releases dopamine, making us feel good, therefore, we try to do that thing again and again.

They have noticed that leaders often dare to do things not everyone dares to do, this chase for excitement satisfies them, and they are more likely to do the things regular people want to do but are too scared of.

A 2013 research also found the rs4950 genotype, is an inherited DNA sequence that has been found in people who usually takes charge of things, despite this interesting discovery, scientists still can’t assure 100% that leadership is biological.

It only proves that there are certain chemical substances inside leaders’ bodies that makes them more daring and adventurous, but this does not mean they are capable of ruling, only that they may be followed by admirers.

Does This Mean We Can All Be Leaders?

Yes and no; essentially, even if we do not have the rs4950 genotype or don’t produce enough dopamine, leadership is a social skill that everyone can learn and practice, but depending on where we are born, our personality, and the public we want to mobilize, we may fail or succeed.

There is no leader without followers, you may dare to do something adventurous, but if nobody follows you, you are just a crazy man.

For example, have you noticed in a disco bar or a concert that one person starts to dance the way they like and a few minutes later, someone joins him? Without that second person, the leader wouldn’t be a leader.

This second person reassures others that what they are doing is fine and that they are welcomed.

Here we find a dangerous association, the fact that a leader has followers does not mean they are doing the right thing either, it only means he has found a niche of people that needed representation and motivation.

What Do I Need To Be a Leader?

Psychologists have been discussing this matter for ages now, and these are some of the features a leader should have in order to find and please his followers:

  • Energy: no lazy person can be a leader unless we are talking about a lazy people group. This does not mean you should act like a gym trainer 24/7, it means whenever you talk to your followers, do it with meaning, with purpose, that way is easier to transmit hope and enthusiasm.
  • Master your emotions: there will be times where you will need to master your emotions, this means if you get angry at someone’s work or words, when this happens, simply count to 10 in your head and breath. There’s no need to behave like an authoritarian in a regular followers group. The same principle goes to extreme happiness, you can smile, but the crying of happiness or yelling may not be quite welcomed in certain situations and for specific targets.
  • Have a purpose: nobody likes to follow people for no reason, if you have a cause, transmit it effectively, don’t go around the goal, be specific and push people towards it. Even if you don’t fully know how to get there, never let your followers feel they are stranded.
  • Learn to listen: a leader is nothing without his followers, you may not always like what they have to say, but it will give you a lot of information of how things are going on and how you should act. It also makes them feel appreciated, making it easier to connect with you.
  • Be present: ask about their life, about their job, how they are doing, if there’s something you can do to help. This is something that works in corporate contexts, there will be times where you are the big bad wolf, especially when the company needs an extra push, but showing your human side is not bad either. Be there for them and they will be there for you.

Leadership Transformation

Finally, I would briefly like to mention that even though these five tips are useful for leadership, there are many types of leadership and they may not all be fit for some types.

For example, autocratic leadership is not welcome everywhere, but in certain contexts, the leader is the one who must make the decisions and what their followers think is not exactly relevant.

While a transformation leadership, in the search for a new field or context, will need to listen to the followers, therefore, the transformation may not be welcomed at all.

Do you think you have what it’s needed to be a leader? Or would you prefer to remain a follower? Some people prefer to be leaders, but the truth is, followers are just as necessary for the world.

Image By: LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Interesting Books

  • The Art of War by Sunzi
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change By Stephen R. Covey
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t By Jim Collins
  • Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t By Simon Sinek

10 thoughts on “Are Leaders Born Or Made? Leadership Development 101: 5 Keys To Becoming A Remarkably Effective Leader”

  1. Great post. It has always fascinated me how people are able to lead others to do things that they might not ordinarily do. Most notable are people like Charles Manson, Jim Jones and worst of all Hitler. I can’t even get my husband to shut the fridge while he’s making a sandwich ??

    • Hi JoAnn, wonderful point! It’s a wonderful feeling to be around great leaders and learn from them, or to be a Leader and lead others 🙂

  2. I agree leaders can be taught to lead but natural born leaders are more likely to lead follows into the unknown- the road less traveled – the place where innovation is born versus leaders who learn to lead and are more like tour guide taking us down a path well traveled but with a new interpenetration. Both are valuable and both need followers. Great blog!

  3. Well written interesting post. Yes, followers are just as important as leaders. While it’s great to dance solo-it’s also lovely to be lead by a skillful dancer—to trust and surrender.

    I do think we are each born with certain unique attributes and it’s good to recognize and develop these traits. Good for everyone. 🙂

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