leaders born or made

Are effective managers and leaders born or made? Discussing the Debate

As a leader, you’re responsible for setting the tone and direction of your team – and, ultimately, your organization. It’s your job to motivate and encourage them to achieve their goals while keeping them safe and healthy. But what are the essential qualities of a successful leader? In this blog post, we’ll explore this question in-depth and discuss the leadership traits that make a manager successful. Whether you’re new to leadership or a seasoned professional, read about the skills you need to be a successful leader!

What is Leadership?

In its most straightforward meaning, effective leadership stands for the ability of an individual to influence others in progress toward a shared goal. Leaders need to acutely understand their people and circumstances to guide others throughout the journey. It also helps them efficiently utilize the resources available at their disposal, including the people. Leadership does not end with showing the way. As John Maxwell famously noted “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

The leader does not merely guide by also exemplifies. Great leaders lead by example. They demonstrate the ethics that they wish to cherish in their team. Moreover, they adopt a hands-on approach and coach their team to overcome limitations and reach new heights by using motivation and innovation appropriately.

The job of a leader is manifold, and sometimes they have to turn into coaches while the other time they have to use their impeccable management skills. While discussing leadership, we also note that certain traits are common to all leaders. This understanding had a historical basis when it was assumed that leaders could only be born and not made out of people like us.

Are Managers and Leaders Born or Made?

The debate is ancient – so what’s the answer? Traditionally, it was believed that leaders are born. Examples of many leaders were taken to show that they demonstrated the signs of greatness right from childhood. Certain traits of individuals, such as confidence and heroism – set them apart from the rest of the people as potential leaders. However, leaders who rose from poverty and innumerable challenges have tested such notions. But over time, such opinions have died down. Thus, we do not consider evidence of leadership traits since childhood necessary for a leader!

Research has shown that leaders are largely made. Leadership is not about genetic factors but also accounts for learnings from the environment. The belief that leaders are made from hard work and experience has gained substantial support. The University of Illinois has also demonstrated that training can mold individuals into leaders and help in developing leadership traits.

Thus, the actual answer lies somewhere in the middle, and a person might inherit some leadership qualities and learn the rest from the world to grow into an effective leader. It means that organizations can develop leadership skills in their in-house talent and develop leaders at home!

Leadership skills

Let’s look at some examples – we see leaders developing everyday in front of us

  • Personal Growth: A shy and introverted individual gradually develops strong leadership skills through experiences and self-improvement. Over time, they learn to communicate effectively, motivate others, and make decisions confidently, evolving into an influential leader.
  • Learning from Failures: A manager faces multiple setbacks in their career but uses each failure as a learning opportunity. Through reflection, adapting strategies, and seeking mentorship, they build resilience and refine their leadership abilities, ultimately becoming a respected figure in their organization.
  • Skill Development: An employee with no prior leadership experience joins a leadership development program. Through training, workshops, and mentorship, they acquire essential leadership skills like delegation, conflict resolution, and team motivation. Over time, they transform into a capable and inspiring leader.
  • Adapting to Change: An employee is promoted to a leadership role during a period of organizational change. Despite feeling overwhelmed initially, they actively seek guidance, learn to manage uncertainty, and gradually gain the confidence and skills needed to lead their team through transitions successfully.
  • Inspired by Role Models: A person observes their mentors’ leadership qualities and is inspired to develop similar attributes. They focus on improving their communication, empathy, and strategic thinking, honing these skills over time and emerging as an effective leader themselves.
To become a successful leader, you can focus on developing the skills required for effective leadership. Let us understand in greater detail what these skills are.

What Is A Successful Leader?

So what qualities are essential for a leader to be successful? There is no clear answer to this question. But a few qualities are said to be shared in all effective leaders. Typically, these primarily include the ability to influence and motivate their teams to keep going forward in pursuit of the goal. The leader needs to be sure of their purpose and path to take the team ahead and help them cross hurdles.

In this process, a leader needs the help of many leadership skills. For instance, taking the team through challenges will require the leader to possess impeccable communication skills. It will help them avoid misunderstandings and solve problems arising from miscommunication. But suppose an issue does arise; what happens then? The leader’s conflict resolution skills come to save the day.

In the furor of chaos, time slips away quietly. A leader needs practical time management skills to keep hold of their schedules. They also need to learn how to set and achieve smart goals with their teams. Through this journey, the team is bound to face multiple challenges, often leaving them amazed. To outsmart these difficulties, leaders must facilitate collaboration and innovation in their teams. And while at it, they need to give constructive feedback to their team to correct their path as they keep moving ahead. That sounds like a lot!

Leadership is not merely about carrying out a few functions. In totality, leadership stands for a mindset. The leadership mindset is a growth mindset that emphasizes constant growth and development for the team ad the team members. Developing a growth mindset is among the crucial challenges that leaders face.

Successful leadership helps their team grow and develop over time as individuals and professionally by offering ample opportunities and inspiring them with their vision.

What are Leadership Traits or Qualities?

While there is no clear definition of indispensable leadership traits or skills. We understand that a few leadership qualities are essential to fulfilling the role of a leader. These qualities help individuals become one step over mere managers. People who build these qualities learn to influence and guide teams in their desired directions.

For starters, a leader needs to value integrity. Having integrity as one of their core values helps leaders set standards for behavior in their teams. Ideas based on truth and trustworthiness also assist in establishing credibility and creating mutual respect in which teams can operate.

Another quality that greatly helps leaders is humility. Great leaders are willing to accept mistakes and consequences. They do not try to shift the blame onto others. Instead, they focus on the greatest good and empower others to take ownership of their work.

Along with these, a few other leadership traits help managers adapt to the role effectively. You can read more about them here.

How can you become a leader?

There is no definite answer to this question. While some people might be born with leadership traits, most skills a leader needs can be learned. It means that you can develop leadership skills on your own.

You can start by developing a good work ethic. As you grow as an individual, you will learn to understand and respect the needs of others. It is essential in leading effective teams.

Make sure that your communication skills are up to par too. Leaders must communicate effectively with their teammates, superiors, and other stakeholders if they want their plan to be successful. Additionally, influential leaders know how to get things done without compromising ethics or principles, so teamwork is always valued.

There are many paths to leadership development. These include:

You can read more about all of these to pick the suitable one for you. However, most of these methods of developing leadership skills are accompanied by their own sets of limitations. For instance, if you pick up self-help methods, you might find yourself lost in the absence of guidance. On the other hand, leadership workshops and seminars may be insufficient as they offer general insights. Your challenges could be entirely different! Therefore, you need to pick the right option very smartly.

You can also take up the AI-enabled leadership coaching platform Risely. Risely offers real-time support for your challenges as you wish. It allows you to pick your challenges and progress at your own pace. Adding well-researched content designed as toolkits and self-assessments is a great benefit. The ability to access it from anywhere at any time at an affordable price makes it an ideal pick for up-and-coming leaders of the new generation – who overcome limitations to rise rapidly!

Find out more about AI co-pilot for leadership development here: Becoming The Best Manager: Why AI Co-Pilot Overtakes Manual Solutions?


Leadership is the buzzword of today’s age. Yet, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding it. In this blog, we understood that leaders could be made with adequate guidance. Nonetheless, the old debate of are leaders born or made is sure to continue raging. The emphasis has now moved from leadership traits to skills. Leadership skills are essential and can be developed in many ways. The best way to find the right method for you is to talk to others who have done it before, read about leadership development methods, and then decide on an approach that fits your personality and goals.

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Why managers are made and not born?

Managers are made and not born because they managerial skills which are the mark of effective managers can be learned. With sufficient practice and right resources such as toolkits and assessments, managers can learn leadership skills and become effective.

Is a good and effective manager inherited or acquired?

Effective management skills are a combination of both personal qualities and professional training. Managerial skills can be acquired through the various modes of training available such as managerial training programs, leadership coaching, etc.

What makes an effective manager and leader?

An effective manager and leader is one who can guide their team in the right direction. They have the right skills such as communication and conflict resolution to overcome internal team challenges as well as other traits such as active listening, problem solving, critical thinking, etc. to maneuver the team through challenges.

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