A common question I get is if leaders are born or if they’re made. While I believe this question is well-intended, it leaves a lot to be desired and gives a false limitation in choices.
Here’s the truth: leaders are made. Anyone can become a leader. It takes a lot of work and grit, but it is possible. Here are three ways leaders are made:
1. Leaders are made through personal development
Here are two ways to develop yourself.
I recommend reading and lots of it. If you’re looking for something more inspirational that encourages you to lead, check out some books by John Maxwell. At the time of this writing, I just finished a two-book volume by him called Developing the Leader Within You / Developing the Leaders Around You (paid link). While he’s not the most practical writer, I believe this set of books will inspire you to be a better leader.
One other way to develop yourself is to understand who you are. For a better understanding of this, I love the enneagram. A great resource is The Road Back to You (paid link) by Ian Morgan Cron. This is a good place to start when trying to discover your personality and how you interact with others.
Become a better leader by remaining inspired and constantly pursue understanding yourself better.
2. Leaders are made through mentoring relationships
You must seek mentors if you want to grow in leadership. A mentor should be someone with whom you share common interests, who challenges you to grow, and is not afraid to hurt your feelings in a loving way. Mentors don’t need to be permanent, so if you find someone who is willing to invest in your for 3 months, that’s worth it!
3. Leaders are made through experience
Lastly, you must gain experience if you want to grow as a leader. I’m not talking about a job role here. Leaders aren’t necessarily leaders because of their job title. If you want to grow as a leader, find an area at work, at home, at church, or wherever else you may be and try to make it better. Don’t go rogue, though. Always be in line with the vision of your leader and keep open communication as you strive to make yourself and your organization better. Even if you fail, you will learn something from it.
Here’s the caveat: leaders are also born. Some people are just more naturally inclined to be a leader. Just as some people are more naturally systems-minded or musically-incline, so are some people more naturally capable leaders.
There’s an old saying, though: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” While some people are good leaders naturally, they will never become great leaders without making themselves a great leader.
What do you need to do in order to become a better leader? Is it one of the items from the list above? Is there something I missed? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!
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