Are Leaders Born Or Made?

You will recall that in college biology, we learn the P= G + E + (GxE). This formula means the performance of an organism (P) is a function of its genetic make-up (G), its environment (E), and interaction between its genotype and environment. If we apply this to leadership, the inborn traits of an individual and the environment he/she develops, determines one’s leadership ability.

In-born characteristics include things like native intelligence and physical make-up. For example, a person born with high intelligence, a well-modulated voice, and a pleasing face has the potential to be a great leader. However, the attainment of such potential will depend on the environment where one grows and develops. Environmental factors are things like quality of education, opportunities to lead at a young age, and the presence of mentors.

The best-case scenario is when someone with great potential to be a leader grows up in a nurturing environment that allows for the full development of his/her potential. But at the same time, the above framework suggests that even those with less than ideal genetic predisposition can improve their leadership skills through training and exposure to the right environment.

If this understanding is correct, there are several implications. First, it is God who ultimately determines the degree of leadership proficiency of a person. It is He who gives our genetic composition. He also determines where we will be born and grow up. Second, we have the responsibility to develop whatever innate gifts God has given us. Every person may not become a super charismatic leader, but he/she can improve his/her leadership skills.

Let us praise God for the leadership ability He has bestowed upon us while seeking to improve it under the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

So are leaders born or made? My sense is that it’s a bit of both.

[You may read for free my leadership book at:

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