Born or Made?

Leaders? What do you think? Are leaders born or made? Psychology Today points to the fact that they are “mostly made” to a tune of two-thirds to one-third. (Riggio, 2009) Riggio goes on to say, “To expect that a person would be born with all of the tools needed to lead just doesn’t make sense based on what we know about the complexity of social groups and processes.” (2009)

I grew up on a farm. I remember getting up early, planting crops, harvest time and fresh vegetables. I didn’t mind getting dirty. I recall running freely in the fields and going to sleep with the sounds of the crickets in summertime. Never once did I think I would be found in leadership roles as an adult. I learned how to work hard and do things right to yield favorable results. But college taught me how to work smart. I was taught that I didn’t have to work that hard anymore for favorable results.

I agree with Herrenkohl when he says “…there are skills that you can teach (technical knowledge, product knowledge, understanding of a particular client) and skills you can’t (motivation, leadership, commitment, the ability to sell and the desire to achieve).” (2010, p.99) However, I believe the skills you can’t teach can be cultivated, but it hinges on how a person internalizes or whole heartedly receives the change. People can be motivated by money, success and achievement, or helping others. If you place a person in a leadership role and give the tools and resources to succeed, they can become transformed by the positives of the assignment or the role. Recognition and praise by peers and feeling valued can move a non-motivated person to another place of being engaged. A favorable environment can bring life-changing results.

The average person is not lazy, ignorant or hopeless. They just need to be around the right person or people to believe in them. Everyone has a gift. Everyone has that something they do well. For some, they capitalize on it and for others they bury it. So the two-thirds of being made a leader gives access to everyone! It is not something that only a certain number of people have. They have a 66% chance to succeed as a leader.

“When it comes to hiring, more employers are going beyond standard questions such as asking candidates to list their biggest strengths and weaknesses.” (Picchi, 2015) Even more, “Employers are looking to test a candidate’s critical thinking skills, as well as how they problem-solve on the spot and how they handle an unexpected challenge.” (Picchi, 2015) According to Glassdoor, questions ranged from, “What’s your favorite Disney Princess?” to “Describe the color yellow to somebody who’s blind.” (Picchi, 2015) The questions were position specific.

When hiring, I look at more for character traits and not so much skill details. They had to have the skills in order to be chosen for an interview. As long a one is willing to learn, new skills can be taught. I look at personality traits that are complimentary and a good fit with other employees. I look for the person and not the position. The resume will tell me if the person can perform the job, but the interview gives me insight on who the person is. I recall reading an article a couple of years ago about what kind of questions millionaire CEO’s asked. One question was if you were and animal, what would you be? The CEO asked that question to get insight on the personality of the interviewee. What type of animal would you be?

Herrenkohl, Eric. (2010)How to Hire A-Players. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Picchi, Aimee. (2015, March 18). MoneyWatch. Top 10 weird job interview questions. Retrieved October 2, 2016 from

Riggio, Ronald E. (2009, March 18). Leaders: Born or Made?. Retrieved October 2, 2016 from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *