Are Extraordinary Leaders Born or Made?

Are Extraordinary Leaders Born or Made?


Nature or nurture, a question that’s baffled psychologists for centuries. A question that has sparked interest in hiring managers is whether leaders are born or created. Here, we’ll debate both sides.

Leaders are Born, Not Created:

True leaders were born with a natural sense of curiosity and originality in thought. Their thoughts are what differentiates them from others. Their way of thinking defies status quo, inspire others, and progresses a community forward. Like any intrinsic motivation, natural born leaders want to create change because they are passionate about the role, the cause, and the people.

“The need to achieve, including ambition and an inclination to work hard toward goals, also was found to be genetically influenced, but more than half of this trait seemed determined by life experience. The same lower degree of hereditary influence was found for impulsiveness and its opposite, caution.” (University of Minnesota Study)

According to the findings from a long-term project at the University of Minnesota, traits are mainly inherited. This supports different studies and articles indicating that extraordinary leaders have similar traits and characteristics. A notable trait that’s found to be inherited is one’s self-motivation (“need to achieve”). In essence, this study supports the claim that extraordinary leaders are born, as one’s personal willingness to succeed is a strong leadership trait.

Leaders are Created, Not Born:

Let’s first focus on the qualities that make a good leader. According to Forbes, the top 10 qualities of a good leader include honesty, ability to delegate, communication, sense of humor, confidence, commitment, positive attitude, creativity, intuition, ability to inspire. With research by West Virginia University, the upbringing, nurturing, and resources an individual receives is the determinant of his or her attitude and personality.

Oftentimes, extraordinary leaders have an incredible story, whether they lifted themselves out of poverty or they connected with the right opportunities during their youth there was a journey to their success. Their experience before becoming successful enabled them to learn the importance of honesty, delegation, and intuition. Their hardships improved their ability to find humor in situations. And their understanding of their field allowed them to be creative. All of which provides them the tools to be inspiring. I’d like to make a note here that not all successful people are leaders. It takes more than just wealth or status to make someone a leader, but the upbringing and the experiences that went along with it can create an extraordinary leader.

So which is it?

In this writer’s opinion, it’s both.

Being a leader isn’t for everyone, as some individuals enjoy following. And those with the same potential to be extraordinary may not be equally recognized. I believe leaders are born with certain traits and the upbringing shapes them. You can be an extraordinary kid, but if you’re not able to achieve the same resources as others, you may not be able to create the change that you want. This may lead to lowered confidence and then the world will never witness your potential.


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