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Are leaders born or made? Whether leaders are born or made has been a word for debate and argument over the years. As long as this question has lasted, no definite answer has been provided. There have been examples of historical figures that came naturally to leadership and also, there have been examples of leaders who built their leadership skills with experience and tenacity. Many schools of thought believe that just like people are naturally talented in arts, music, and other talent-related gifts, people can be born with this leadership skill. So, to answer the question is simple – leaders can be born and made.

Are leaders born or made? To understand the concept of leadership, both the in-birth aspect (born leaders – genetic components) and the building aspect (made leaders – experience and environmental influences) must be considered. This question can go on for many years to come, with people still debating over it. We must examine the leadership concept from both sides of the argument (are leaders born or made?).

Many people believe that if you gather about 20 young children of the same age to play together in a place, it is a high possibility that a leader will emerge among them in no time. It might not necessarily be for leading them, but the leader naturally emerges in making decisions, choosing allies, and so on other leadership decisions.

When thinking about excellent leaders, whether present or historical, it is possible to ask how they became notable leaders. That is where the question comes in again if they were born with the leadership qualities that they possess or if they were made. Thomas Carlyle, in his book, “The Great Man Theory,” said those leadership traits are intrinsic, which means that great leaders are born and show up when faced with challenges.

However, leadership has been taught as well. Many organizations invest time and money to help workers develop good leadership skills. We see these things every day. Some people possess certain leadership characteristics that are just natural to them. Examples include charisma, bringing the best out of others, flowing with people irrespective of attachments, motivating people, inspiring people, and lots more. In cases like this, one can easily recognize that such people are naturally inclined and gifted with leadership skills.


At some point in our lives, we have acknowledged and appreciated some born leaders instead of defending one perspective to suit our needs. They are not far from being found. They possess great charisma and noticeable presence (not by appearance but words of wisdom) combined with great decision-making skills, which make them stand out. We have all had excellent class captains, group leaders, and team leaders who display excellent leadership skills at a very young age. These are born leaders. Leaders are born and not made; we need to examine genetics’s role in attaining leadership skills.

Over the past few years, studies and research have been carried out to show if leadership traits are genetic or hereditary. One of these famous studies is the twin studies. This study involves twins of the same genetical composition and is examined. The twin study assessment helps to show that leadership traits can be right from birth. Identical twins or monozygotic twins are the best for this kind of study because they share 100% of their genetic material, unlike fraternal twins or dizygotic twins, who only share 50%of their genetic material. This test or study is carried out under two conditions: genetic or behavioral differences and environmental influences on their leadership skills.

Results from this study show that led to a certain level or degree is genetic. This study has further expatiated with each of the twins put in a very distinct and different environment. The study still shows that the differences were not much. Historically, we can see examples of twins who have demonstrated good leadership skills. Notable examples include NASA astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly; Julian and Joaquin Castro, who display their leadership qualities at different services.

Undisputable pieces of evidence have further shown that leaders are born and not made. This leads us to the trait theory. The trait theory is built on the opinion that leaders are born and not made, making leadership qualities in-born and not something that can be learned or taught. Under this, scholars have outlined some major characteristics that determine a good leader. These characteristics include physiological attributes, demographical factors, and intelligence level.

Physiological attributes comprise seeable factors such as appearance, height, dress sense, and lots more.

Demographical factors comprise the educational level and background, age, family records, and background.

Intelligence level – this comprises the person’s ability in question, which includes decision making, charisma, content loaded, knowledge, etc.


There are many definitions of leadership, but there is generally acceptable and cut across all the initial definitions. We all know leadership to be a process through which a person influences and motivates others to accomplish a team goal. We will be looking at some born leaders, both present and historical. In our quest to find out if leaders are born or made, we have some examples of born leaders below:

1. Mahatma Gandhi


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi, was born on the 2nd of October 1869. He was a renowned Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist. He became an important part of India’s independence story by employing nonviolent resistance and protest by leading them to freedom in 1947. He was notably known for his quotes, motivational speeches, resilience, and leading by example.

2. Abraham Lincoln


Abraham Lincoln was the 16th American president was formally worked as a statesman and a lawyer. Lincoln led the country through the most challenging moment in the nation’s history and prevented them from breaking into smaller parts. He used his leadership skill to keep the people together and ended slavery by signing the emancipation proclamation.

3. George Washington


George Washington, also known as the United States of America’s founding father, was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and the first president of the United States. He led the American revolution that won the war of independence and presided at a constitutional convention in 1787 which brought about a federal government and the U.S. constitution.

4. Nelson Mandela


Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African political leader who led the anti-apartheid revolutionary. He served as president from 1994 to 1999. He served a long prison sentence due to his fight against racism and apathy. This encouraged Mandela the more with his goal of uniting the country. He was the first black head of states in the country.

These are to mention a few. Many other born leaders (active and historical) have made waves in their area of influence.

Notable Mentions: Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Winston Churchill, ZurielOduwale (Born in July 2002, and has been receiving international recognition since the age of 8. She has been interviewed about 30 different presidents and heads of state).

With the few examples above, we can prove to an extent if true leaders are born or made.



Are leaders born or made? Having said all above, born leadership skill is not enough, it has to be worked upon. Not born with any of the likable or most common leadership skills doesn’t mean that you cannot make a good leader. For instance, introverts who find it hard to mix with people are contrary to the aforementioned leadership skill of charisma and presence, they can make a good leader if they can learn and put into action things they have learned.

How then do you develop leadership traits?

  • Assess yourself: Self-evaluation, self-reflection and self-assessment are the most important step in the initial stage of finding yourself. This is you telling yourself the truth and finding out more hidden things about yourself. An effective leader must be able to find out what are his or her strengths and weaknesses. This will help the person to understand what are the things he or she is good with and things that are difficult for him.
  • As we have said, leaders can be born, it doesn’t automatically make them a perfect person, they only have more visible strength, but they have a weakness. When assessing yourself gives you an insight into what you need to improve upon and how to go about it.
  • Show empathy: To be an effective leader, you must be able to feel what the followers are feeling. You must put yourself in their shoes and experience the act of followership. What makes an effective leader is an awareness and understanding of what is going on at every point.
  • Build yourself: As it has been rightly said above, in-built leadership skill is not enough. A leader that depends only on his natural ability will not go far. We now have leadership courses in the universities today, they are there to help improve.
  • Join the Black Sheep Community: The Black Sheep community helps to make future thought leaders. We are on a mission to help people become great leaders with experts in various fields as your coach.
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