A good number of people pontificate whether leaders are born or made. Endless hours are wasted debating this question. It is easy to say that a good number of leaders are born, but not made. This is especially so when influential individuals are examined. They seem to fit so snugly into their leadership roles that it is easy to say that they were born for that role. People like Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill seem to flow with their prescribed roles that the world simply thinks that they were born for those roles they performed. Leaders grab the attention of other people for the reason that they exhibit some qualities that are extraordinary (Zaleznik, 1977).
To paraphrase Shakespeare, some are born leaders, others acquire leadership and others have leadership thrust on them. In all intellectual honesty, leaders are born, and they are also made. The natural qualities that a leader is born with are not sufficient to make them remarkable leaders. They need some training. Some qualities of leadership cannot be acquired. They can only be innate (Zaleznik, 1977). One such quality that cannot be acquired is intelligence. A leader has to be born with intelligence. This intelligence is not enough. It has to be developed. This means that a leader has got to be made. That is the reason that leaders have to go to school. A corporate leader must have an understanding of the corporate world. This comes with knowledge, which is acquired, not innate. The selfsame leader requires strategic intuition. In other words, he requires wisdom. This quality is not acquired. It is innate (Zaleznik, 1977).
An additional observation that builds the case that leaders are born and made is an examination of the qualities of a leader. In examining the qualities of leadership, it becomes apparent that both acquired and innate characteristics make up a leader. For example, one of the qualities that are essential in leadership is courage. Courage is not something an individual can acquire. It has to be innate. Courage cannot work by itself. It needs other qualities like honesty. Honesty is a remarkably crucial quality in leadership. Honesty can only be acquired. A leader cannot be born with the quality (Yukl, 2006).
When individuals take a stand and declare that a leader is either born or made, they are off the mark. This is because a leader is born, and he is also made. The qualities that come with leadership are innate in a man, or a woman. The same equalities have to be developed. A leader has got to be made. This observation is supported when great leaders of the twentieth century and other past centuries are examined (Bennis, 1989). Leaders like Abraham Lincoln were born with great leadership potential. The failures and tribulations they encountered in life made them the leaders they eventually became.
It is impossible to make a leader out of someone who does not have leadership potential. It is also equally impossible to get a leader who has not been trained (Bennis, 1989). Putting this debate in perspective, a leader is born, and he is also made. The two are inseparable. Just like an athlete is born with potential and he has to train hard to realize that potential, so a leader is born, and he has to be made. Those who support one side are either hypocritical liars or naive (Bennis, 1989). Ability and training have to marry in order to produce a leader. This is true for any leadership field in life. A leader is born, he is also made.