Are great leaders born or made?
While that is a bit of a controversial question, I think most of us can agree that it’s both.
Some people are inarguably endowed with certain skills or traits at birth that naturally evolve into good leadership, while others – probably most – acquire leadership capability through life circumstances, with or without the help of innate qualities.
It’s one thing to be born a good leader, but to become truly great one must have guidance and always be ready to learn. Even the greatest of our time such as Warren buffet had a mentor to guide him, whether it was in becoming a better investor or becoming better in other aspects of business.
Either way, most of us can agree that great leaders demonstrate in various ways the following characteristics.
A great leader is driven by strong curiosity, blessed with the mind of a child when it comes to looking at the world. He wants to know what makes the world tick, and then the focus is narrowed to a specific target area where learning more becomes a greater possibility, usually through self-education and/or experiences.
Great leaders explore ways in which they can meet objectives, in order to use their developed talents effectively and improve a company or an industry, whether in IT, business, education, or other areas.
Some people are content to accept life on simple terms. They don’t make major plans, and they don’t expect great things out of life.
Great leaders are different.
They demonstrate a sense of purpose and are determined to pursue their goals, no matter how lofty. Whatever it takes, they willingly pay the price to make their dreams come true. When they encounter obstacles, they find ways of getting over, around, or through them.
Even if they are temporarily sidelined by financial issues or health problems, they eventually return to the path they have chosen and keep on going, sometimes with redoubled efforts.
The future may not be possible to predict, but it’s not impossible to determine what will happen even if we are off by a few knots. A great leader has self-worth and a predetermined future. They are visionaries who can see what tomorrow has to offer, then they set out to make it become a reality.
Strong leaders establish a vision that correlates to personal qualities and resources whether available or not.
Vision goes together with curiosity, which asks “what if”, to consider “how”. Many visionary leaders have undertaken major goals knowing that something can be done, even when it seems impossible.
Goals such as building a better computer or a self-returning/self-landing rocket that can be re-used.
Visionary leaders are never satisfied with being at the top; they have to invent new things and better ways of using them.
In breaking new territory and exploring bold questions, barriers will typically be found. An extraordinary leader will not let concerns stand in the way of success.
While temporary pauses may occur, they are called temporary and are overcome-able. Even when confronted by failure, the dynamic leader refuses to quit, instead learning from the failed approach and establishing a new direction.
Going the distance can be the breaking point for many otherwise-successful leaders. Some great minds have proposed new ideas, pursued them for a time, and then gave up when the going got rough or resources became limited. A Leader must be persistent and find a way when there doesn’t seem to be any and see it through till the end.
Despite harsh criticism, unexpected setbacks, and flawed designs, amazing goals are reached due to the persistence of amazing leaders, but it takes courage to stand up to those who say something cannot be done – and attempt it anyway.
Courage is essential for withstanding any number of setbacks at both the personal and professional level.
Throughout history, well known entrepreneurs such as Henry Ford and Carnegie have been termed insane, unrealistic, or daydreamers. Yet it has been these greats who have left historical legacies that will continue to impact generations to come.
The professional realms are filled with names of those who blazed trails into uncharted territory to make startling and valuable new discoveries. Many encountered extreme criticism and even risked death to share inspiring messages or deeds.
Anyone can pursue a dream, and anyone can stick with it if they so desire, But a great leader is persistent, but even more than that a great leader is wise.
Wisdom is not being so optimistic that he loses sight of things, wisdom is knowing and admitting when something isn’t going to work.
To drop a goal or project doesn’t always mean that a leader wasn’t persistent enough or that he’s a quitter; it means he was wise enough to know when it was necessary to give up on something and take a different direction.
Although some professional people begin their quest for success as a personal mission for self-gratification, many if not most eventually develop an altruistic mindset that desires to help others.
This may take the form of lending a helping hand to those just starting their professional careers, or it could lead to becoming mentors that coach others along the way.
Altruistic endeavors may also include community patronage or charitable giving in funds as well as services and many, such as Tim Ferris become angel investors.
Leadership comprises many skills that can vary widely. However, those that readily come to mind in today’s world often embody qualities like those listed above.
Self-made leaders are role models for success that show others how to reach their goals.
Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. – Jack Welch
Now assess yourself! Do you carry any of these qualities and if not, what are you doing about it?