Are True Leaders Born or Made?

Subject: Leadership Styles
Pages: 2
Words: 326
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: Master

Society needs leaders to unite it and work together towards a common goal. However, it is still debated whether true leaders are born or made.

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Leadership is an elusive notion, as different disciplines can offer a variety of definitions for it. For example, in management, a leader is a person who has a relevant influence on the organization (Hunt & Fedynich, 2018). A broader definition classifies leadership as the process of influence and the outcomes between a leader and followers and how this process can be explained by the leader’s traits (Day and Antonakis, 2018). Leaders in any field are expected to have different characteristics that set them apart from others. For example, intelligence, confidence, determination, integrity, and sociability are commonly accepted leader qualities (Schedlitzki & Edwards, 2018). Charisma is also considered an essential trait of a strong and effective leader (Grabo, Spisak, and van Vugt, 2017; Sacavém et al., 2017). Nevertheless, the question stands whether these qualities are innate or can be developed.

It can be contended that leaders are born and not made. However, some discover their leadership qualities later in life and work more towards developing them. For example, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump are examples of natural-born leaders, as their charisma inspired many followers to vote them into office (Ghazal Aswad, 2018; Wasike, 2017). However, Natural Born Leadership theory states that anyone can become a leader (Haraida & Blass, 2019). However, the theory limits the traits of a leader to courage, self-awareness, and conviction. It also states that extraordinary circumstances are needed for these characteristics to be discovered and developed. Thus, according to the theory, such leaders as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King only developed charisma and became recognized as leaders due to the circumstances they encountered during their lifetimes (Holt, 2018; Magu, 2020). Overall, everyone has the capacity to become a leader, but only the circumstances that people face can help the leadership traits be found and realized.

Reference List

Day, D. and Antonakis, J. (2018) ‘Leadership: Past, present, and future’, in Day, D. and Antonakis, J. The nature of leadership. Sage Publications, Inc, pp. 3–26.

Ghazal Aswad, N. (2018) ‘Exploring Charismatic Leadership: A Comparative Analysis of the Rhetoric of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election’, Presidential Studies Quarterly, 49(1), pp. 56–74.

Grabo, A., Spisak, B. and van Vugt, M. (2017) ‘Charisma as signal: An evolutionary perspective on charismatic leadership’, The Leadership Quarterly, 28(4), pp. 473–485.

Haraida, B. and Blass, P. (2019) ‘Recognising ‘True’ Leadership: The Theory of Natural Born Leadership’, International Journal of Business and Social Science, 10(4), pp. 1–8.

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Holt, P. (2018) ‘An exercise in leadership: Being the change that you wish to see’, in Hak, B. and Holmes, B. Powerful Relationships in Leadership. Winona State University, pp. 57–63.

Hunt, T. and Fedynich, L. (2018) ‘Leadership: Past, present, and future: An evolution of an idea’, Journal of Arts & Humanities, 8(2), pp. 20–26.

Magu, S. (2020) ‘The tempests of time, rights, race and justice: Mandela and MLK Jr. as transformational leaders or beneficiaries of extraordinary circumstances?’, Preprints, pp. 1–14.

Sacavém, A. et al. (2017) ‘Charismatic Leadership: A Study on Delivery Styles, Mood, and Performance’, Journal of Leadership Studies, 11(3), pp. 21–38.

Schedlitzki, D. and Edwards, G. (2018) Studying leadership: Traditional and critical approaches. 2nd edn. Sage.

Wasike, B. (2017) ‘Charismatic rhetoric, integrative complexity and the U.S. Presidency: An analysis of the State of the Union Address (SOTU) from George Washington to Barack Obama’, The Leadership Quarterly, 28(6), pp. 812–826.