45 answers

Are Leaders born or made?

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I am a high school student and I consider myself a leader. I however, want to improve my leadership skills as I will be taking on bigger leadership positions in the next school year. I know that leaders are made through learning and teaching but also, could it be true that we may be born with some certain traits that could set us up for excellent leadership? Additionally , what are some skills that make excellent leaders and pioneers? #engineering #career #finance #professional #marketing #leadership #coaching #sales #personal-development

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Steve’s Answer

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Great question! I think it's fair to say that some people do have certain natural attributes that lend themselves to leadership e.g. self-awareness. However, in my view, seeking regular feedback on your leadership style and acting on that feedback is key. This allows you to overcome any blind spots and shows you are truly connected to the team that you are leading. The important thing to consider is the difference between leading and managing. Leading is setting out the vision and providing clarity on what the team needs to do and why. Managing is putting that vision into action through clear objectives that are tracked and measured.

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Alexander’s Answer

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Leadership is a natural instinct, certainly a sense one carries, others don't. Very important is feedback from others. Stating "I am a leader" does not prove this. Feedback can be direct or indirect. Do people talk openly, do they behave intimidated? Listen and watch! Leaders always stand in the first line. Lead by example and always stay on top of information needed about you market, profession. Know what is going on, share and inspire. Best of luck!

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Renata’s Answer

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Hello Tim,


I believe there are natural born leaders and also leaders that are made through life.In both ways there are always room for improvement. Leadership is about serving others. Is about finding courage to try and fail, to learn and grow. Being a leader has to do with what kind of atmosphere you will provide to your team, peers and bosses. I love the Simon Sinek's Ted Talk: Why good leaders make you fell safe?. Simon Sinek has great articles and talks about leadership.

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Ron’s Answer

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Leadership is expressed in many different forms and people react to leaders differently. A couple of key traits:


Be informed on the subject matter in which you are tying lead. You do NOT need to be an expert but you should be able to apply your knowledge in a practical manner;
Identify peoples strengths and allow people to use their strengths to build confidence;
and MOST importantly, you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion!

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Fiona’s Answer

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Hi Tim,


To be a real leader is to help your company and your people be successful. So it is important to make sure you have your feet on the ground and your truly understand what is happening around you. A book I would recommend to you or this link
http://www.quickmba.com/mgmt/7hab/


I have lived my life focusing on these 7 habits and it does truly work. Enjoy


Kindest regards


Fi

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Paul G’s Answer

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Some leaders have an intuitive sense of what it means to lead others, but leadership can be learned.


The principal trait of all great leaders is the willingness to serve others by demonstrating a sincere sense of caring for those who you lead.

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Mike’s Answer

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Very important question , I believe that leaders can be both Born and Made
However most in my experience are made through both life and business experience because communications and interpersonal skills are absolutely critical, especially when a crisis erupts or when leaders have too deal with organizational change , Business experience helps because confidence to take risks is critical .

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Ken’s Answer

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Hi Timothy!


You are asking a very important questions. Some traits are inherited and some are learned.


Here are some hints about becoming a better leader.


https://www.themuse.com/advice/7-ways-to-start-building-your-leadership-skills-today-no-matter-where-you-are-on-the-ladder
https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-unconventional-ways-to-become-a-better-leader


Best of luck!

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Karen’s Answer

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I do believe that leaders are born with the strength, and the fact that you say you want to go in that direction, means you must have that strength in you. It takes knowledge, wisdom, openess to be a good leader. You have to be a good listener so you know what are the needs of the group that you want to lead. You have to know the topic/ project to know what is for the good of the group and how to guide others through your wishes to get the task done for the group. A good leader is an example for others to follow and admire.

Is this helpful?

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Aj’s Answer

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Hello Timothy,

Great question!

Taking up leadership positions early in life is a great thing. It helps you understand and explore who you are.
I would say see your leadership aspirations and upcoming positions as opportunities to understand YOU more.
Note that in one area in life you can be a leader and in another area you can be a follower.

I will respond to your question with another question, if you do not mind.

My question to you is;

Why do you want to be a leader?
Is anything wrong with being a follower?



My humble opinion: Leadership is service. Are you ready to serve?
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Michael Louis’s Answer

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Hi Timothy,


I believe that most leaders are "made" by their experiences. Here are two things that I wish I had focused on more in my early career:


1) Make other people feel important - If you focus too much on yourself, you will never be a good leader. Read the classic books on emotional intelligence ( EQ ) like Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People". EQ can be even more important than IQ in this world!


2) Get comfortable with Public Speaking - A leader communicates ideas. Being able to address a crowd is essential. Get over your "stage fright" by joining public speaking groups like Toastmasters International. I personally have the Toastmaster's CC certification.


Hope this helps - Good Luck!


Mike Pastor

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Lucineh’s Answer

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Hi there!

Great question. Leaders are definitely made. People can develop skills to become successful leaders.
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Lucineh’s Answer

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Hello!

I believe leaders are made and not born. Of course some people are more approachable and lead naturally. However, anyone can develop skills over time to become a leader. Remember, it is all about how bad you want something and what you are willing to sacrifice.
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Josh’s Answer

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Leadership is very much a learned behaviour, though some people find learning that skill easier than others. Just like learning a language, a sport, or any other skill, leadership can be developed by reading the principles of good leaders, putting them into practice, and asking for feedback from others.

I gave the answer below to another question about suggested books. The answer is very applicable to your question too.

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek was absolutely transformational for me and my career. Simon sets the standard for leaders using his military experience to explain how great leaders act, speak, think, and, most important, lead.

Most important, Sinek identifies that leaders identified in an org chat. A manager is not a leader simply because they have the role of manager. Why does that matter? You can be a leader!! Leading doesn't mean telling people what to do or having a title, leadership is about making your team better because you are a part of it.

Sir Isaac Newton once said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." The role of a leader is to be the shoulders that help those around you to see further.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16144853-leaders-eat-last

Josh recommends the following next steps:

  • Find someone whose leadership style inspires you and ask them to share their views on leadership
  • Volunteer for opportunities where being a leader isn't about a title but the actions you take
  • When you do group work at home, school, or in the community, pay attention to those at the edges of the group. Include them. Leaders are inclusive.
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Denise’s Answer

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Hi Timothy! That is a good and classic question that we have been asked and often ask to. However, throughout the years, I think it is a mix of both. Sorry if this is a cliche answer but it is honestly true to some degree. I think people who want to be leaders are somewhat good at it intrinsically. However, for those who want to be leaders but are not born with this trait or for those who want to be even better leaders, there is definitely room to grow. Whether it is having a good mentor/leader themselves or asking the people who they lead how they can improve, they can adapt and become better leaders (and more importantly people) in the future. It is important to learn how to give and receive constructive feedback. Best of luck!
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Julie’s Answer

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One of the traits of best leaders is the knowledge that you can always learn more to improve and that you don't have all the answers. Your self awareness about expanding and growing your base skills is a strong indicator that you have great potential--don't lose sight of that even as you become more accomplished and confident. I agree with what many have said before about nature vs nurture and that both are possible, but both need work and nurturing. Much good inspirational content suggestions (love Simon Sinek!) in the prior responses, and I would add that you should look for opportunities to build and flex the leadership muscle through training orgs and action-based courses designed for young/growing leaders. I don't know what's available to you locally but many civic and business groups invest in this kind of training and can help address specific aspects of leadership (e.g. highly effective introvert leaders can struggle with communicating at scale or public speaking, extrovert leaders may need to learn more skills that overtly demonstrate they are listening or being inclusive, and so forth). I would encourage you to delve into the fantastic resources via internet, but also look for real-world ways to "practice" leadership and understand how your skills translate in a variety of situations. You sound like you're on a good track and good luck!

Julie recommends the following next steps:

  • Find early career/youth leadership building opportunities outside just school. Civic groups or local business/industry orgs can be a great place to start.
  • Consider asking someone you know to be a good leader and who might have similar personal traits as you to be a mentor. There may be mentor matching programs you can find as well.
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Dinesh’s Answer

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Leaders are those who can influence. And in today's fast changing world, leaders are those who have the vision/passion and can quicky adapt to change and have their teams adapt to change.

That being said, some have natural traits of a leader while others learn on their way.

As a high school student, you should look at where can you lead.. can you lead by organizing an event say.. for a social cause (get your school mates, teaching staff, local administration etc.. together for the task)

My recommendation is to join a training program on leadership skills and then put them to use in your activities at schools.
Sign up for a mentorship program where someone can be your mentor and can guide you

An excellent leader takes the time to communicate with his/her team; listen to what they say and communicate the vision and reason for change.
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Lana’s Answer

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Leaders are made by working hard and showing an example to other people
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Mary’s Answer

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I believe that leaders are both born and made. Some leaders are natural born leaders who perfect their leadership skills and core competencies through continued education and through life experiences. Some may have high IQ and EI in superb balance and tend to lead with what seems to be great ease. While others may have strengths or higher IQ than EI or vice versa. In all, even natural born leaders have to come to a place of self-awareness and put in the necessary work to develop as a leader.
Then there are the leaders that, in my opinion, are made. Some of these individuals may have high EI and may naturally posses some core competencies; but, require additional training and/or experiences to improve and/or increase their IQ in the areas of leadership.

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Maritza’s Answer

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Leaders can be both, its more important to understand what a leader is. We have many unsung leaders. People who take initiative, get things done and don't look for the glory of being acknowledge for their leadership. They are the silent unassuming leaders. You also have those leaders that like to be the seen and vocal but they need to work harder at being open and listening to others accepting other point of views and acknowledging failures.

Stay ground, have an excellent support system that will help you stay grounded.

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Martina’s Answer

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People can become leaders through teaching, learning and observation. Leadership is a set of skills that can be learned by training, perception, practice and experience over time. Leadership learning is lifetime activity. Life is work in progress.
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Tobias’s Answer

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I believe leaders are made. Some people seem more inclined to leadership than others, but leadership is a skill that you can grow and nurture through gaining more experience. Offer to take on more leadership opportunities, like leading a project at work. Ask for feedback as you go and hold a retrospective (what went well, what can you do better) with your team or manager around the project to get feedback and grow. Read books on leadership, books that align with your style and books that don't align with your style because they'll give you a different perspective. Seek mentorship in leadership from anyone you see as a good leader. In my opinion, building empathy for those you lead will make you a better leader. Are you a manager? Learn the process that your team goes through to get their work done. This will shine light on the struggles they have in their day-to-day lives and will give you a better perspective if a deadline is missed or it'll give you all the more reason to praise them if they deliver early.
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jesse’s Answer

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Both. Some have that natural instinct to be a leader and some have to earn the skills to become one. As long as you have a great attitude and mindset you can achieve anything you want to in life.

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Brinda’s Answer

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Great question. I feel it is a combination of the two. Some people do have leader characteristics already but this can also be learnt through leadership training and mentoring. If you have some one that you admire, you should tap into them and ask them to mentor you. Leaders provide guidance, like a coach and also give vision and provide inspiration to do better and greater. Managers are more to do with processes and day to day operations but Leaders give vision.

Brinda recommends the following next steps:

  • If you know someone that you can reach out that you admire, ask them if they could mentor you.
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Anthony’s Answer

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Leaders are 100% made!
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Sarah’s Answer

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People can certainly develop skills to be a good manager, but great leadership is not something that you can procure through training in my opinion. I have worked for many people and the great leaders who I aspire to do my best work are those that are charismatic, warm, selfless, have personal drive (motivation), are smart (not necessarily book smart always) and organised. When looking at this list, it's pretty obvious to me that it's the personal characteristics, the values of the person that inspire me.

You can definitely learn leadership skills and lead a team, but it's the intangible parts of you that will make you great.

Just think about all the great leaders in the public eye, that gives you the most inspiration. Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King...etc.
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Jessica’s Answer

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Everyone is a natural born leader, however we all have different strengths and weaknesses. You have to consistently work at it and associate yourself with strong leaders so you can learn from them. I would also highly recommend reading leadership books as well (such as John Maxwell) because you have to personally grow yourself everyday!

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Clément’s Answer

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You are not born a leader, nobody can teach you how to be a leader; however you can learn it. There is 3 traits that are common to leaders:

  • Know what have to be done — Vision
  • Take care of your people
  • Be able to plant the side on what have to be done to your people

clement,


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Robert’s Answer

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Remember to define leadership!   Leadership is the ability to provide direction, purpose and motivation in accomplishing of ones goals.   Part of that is to understand people and what motivates them, then make sure you are ready to answer the question of "why"   Americans love to ask why am I doing that!  Once you get those items done then find out how to get that individual to understand how to accomplish that work or task.   The key is listening, and motivating for any and all leadership positions.   

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Michael’s Answer

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Great question. From my perspective leaders are born - great leaders are made. Either you've got it or you don't. It takes a certain type of individual to create a vision, communicate that vision, and gain follower-ship and support. That said, you should always be in a consent state of learning throughout your life and career. It's hard to imagine that any individual was simply born a great leader without learning from others along the way. Even simply observing poor leadership skills is an opportunity to learn. My final bit of advice would be to never get too full of yourself. Leaders need to be confident but remain authentic and approachable to create trust and follower-ship. Good luck on your career.

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Michael’s Answer

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While a person my be born with certain attributes that can make a natural leader.
Being outgoing, having natural charisma etc. There are also a lot of qualities that you can train yourself to acquire.
If your ambition is to lead then ask yourself what qualities do I naturally posses that would help me in this regard and what qualities do I need to learn?
The people throughout history that have been leaders all have very diverse personality types. Some became leaders due to circumstance. Some became leaders due to their overwhelming drive for success and others due to the oppression they faced.
While they may have had some central universal qualities not all of these were qualities they were born with.
You have to play the cards you've been dealt and utilize the resources at your disposal whether natural or attained through training.
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Sean’s Answer

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Thank you for the great question! I feel that leaders are both born and made. Everyone is a leader. When I was at a leadership summit back in 2013, I was given a great definition of a leader: "a person who has influence". Everyone has influence in some way, shape or form. That said though, great leaders are also made. Experiences help you make a great leader. Drive and passion also help one to become a great leader. Many great qualities that make a great leader, but you were also born a leader as you have the capability of influencing others. Hope that this helps.

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Patrick’s Answer

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The best leaders I have worked with all encouraged everyone in their team to be a leader themselves. Given this I believe leading is about attitude and can be developed. Although there are some personality traits that you might be born with anyone can be a great leader.

As for some skills to help make a great leader I would count communication (especially the ability to change communication style depending on the type of person you are dealing with), empathy, and the ability to see the bigger picture in terms of what is trying to be achieved as being key. I also think it is also really important to understand you can't do it all yourself and that trusting the team around you to do what is needed (don't micro-manage - I have never seen a great leader who does that!).
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CARLA’s Answer

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Hi Timothy,

Yes, I do believe there are natural born leaders, but even these leaders improve their leadership skills over time with
continuous learning. Being a leader requires a certain amount of courage and fearlessness, it seems to me you've
acquired some of these soft skills already.

Read inspirational motivating books by industry leaders, athletes, entertainers et., You'll certainly learn more to
incorporate on your pathway to leadership.
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Jonathan’s Answer

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Excellent question,

I believe a leader is made, and it starts from within. You need to be able to manage yourself and carry yourself in such open manner that you find it second nature to help other better themselves and make others believe they can become better by following you and your beliefs in being a CHAMPION.

It starts off with being the first one in to set up shop and the last one out from cleaning the room and having it ready for the next day.

Allow look to find out HOW - How did he do that, How is she on the top level of her game, How is he always the first in.

Find your desire, your motivation , your passion and like gravity the universe will give you a push.

"A champion keeps playing until they get it right" - Billie Jean King

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Michael’s Answer

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While a person my be born with certain attributes that can make a natural leader.
Being outgoing, having natural charisma etc. There are also a lot of qualities that you can train yourself to acquire.
If your ambition is to lead then ask yourself what qualities do I naturally posses that would help me in this regard and what qualities do I need to learn?
The people throughout history that have been leaders all have very diverse personality types. Some became leaders due to circumstance. Some became leaders due to their overwhelming drive for success and others due to the oppression they faced.
While they may have had some central universal qualities not all of these were qualities they were born with.
You have to play the cards you've been dealt and utilize the resources at your disposal whether natural or attained through training.
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Margaret’s Answer

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Leadership qualities are something that some are born with, and others aspire to achieve. One can always improve on their leadership skills, whether this be through activities/ courses, or speaking to leaders in your every day life. Providing people with direction and encouragement is a quality that one should strive for. Leadership is a skill that can take you many directions in life.

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Steve’s Answer

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I don't think anyone is born as a leader but they may have some traits of leadership and just need to explore them. I do think some people are born with a natural desire to lead others and do well at it. Becoming a great leader requires putting yourself out there and taking risks. Leading is a big job that is a big responsibility when you realize others depend on your decisions and direction. I think everyone should give it a shot if you are interested!
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Raj’s Answer

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Leaders are never born. They are made. It takes time, strife and patience. The best leaders don't even learn from their own mistakes, they analyze the mistakes of others, and then launch themselves to lead others, and assist. Leading is a 360 activity. It is an art the same as riding a bike or using social media. It has to be exercised constantly in order to stay current.
It is advisable to read up on leadership - although with the technology today, the best would be to watch YouTube videos on famous leaders, and try to read between the lines on what they have achieved.

Good luck!
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Steve’s Answer

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Hi Timothy,

I think the answer is BOTH. Some people are certainly born with natural abilities to communicate with others and persuade people to follow their path. But it is also true that you can acquire these skills through learning and practical experience. So, take advantage of learning opportunities, volunteer to take on new roles and responsibilities, and work on improving your presentation and communication skills.
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Chaithanya’s Answer

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In my opinion, it is both. While some are born leaders in that they have the passion and desire to lead from the front. Some others learn from others and the desire to lead sparks on one fine day in their mind after seeing other leaders.

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Samantha’s Answer

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Hi Tim,

Leaders are Made, Not Born. Your ability to negotiate, communicate, influence, and persuade others to do things is absolutely indispensable to everything you accomplish in life.

Sam :)
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Doug’s Answer

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I think that it is a combination of the two. There are people with natural abilities that make great leaders. These people however have been molded by people around them and or their experiences. I have had the privilege of being around many great leaders who I have been able to learn from and who have mentored me. Would I say that I was born a leader or made a leader? I would say that I had the ability to lead but have learned from others and have been able to hone my leadership skills. My best advice is to find a mentor, more than one if you can and learn as much as you can.

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Pamela’s Answer

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From my perspective you learn to be a leader. When I started my career there was no way I as going to lead people. But as I grew with the company and took on new challenges I new I wanted more. I enjoyed helping others be successful i their roles and supporting them through their successes. As a result I knew I wanted to be a manager. Little did I know that I made my self to be a leader. This along with good role models, training, peer support and being open to feedback you can learn to be a leader.
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Ruben’s Answer

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I believe a leader is made. As you grow and meet people, you begin to admire certain traits of those individuals that you see as role models. That is when the aspiration to be like them is born. So you work hard to be a role model yourself. You become humble, approachable, kind, friendly and a good listener. People will take notice of you especially if you follow through on what you say you are going to do. Credibility is an important trait to have. Most important be yourself and never stop learning. Always have an open mind, welcome positive criticism and learn from your mistakes. Remember, you must be able to follow before you can lead...
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