I have pondered this question before, and again I am visiting it during the Mosaic International Leadership summit. This time I am lucky to get a chance to discuss and hear different opinions about it.
The question is whether leaders are born or made? In my view, there are many characteristics that are needed in a leader. Many of these are the soft skills such as communication skills (public speaking, listening, and so on), problem solving and decision-making skills, emotional intelligence, etc. that are needed to be applied by the individual in their context to the required degrees.
Since these can be learned by individuals and inculcated, does it not mean that you can create leaders? There might be other attributes necessary such as ‘charisma’ or ‘charm’, but I think something that I label to be charismatic or charming in an individual might not be labelled as such by him or her. To them charisma might mean something else.
For example, there are autistic children whose artwork is a wonder! It is the society that unfortunately stereotypes successful people (and leaders) to be someone outgoing and outspoken. Yes, there are certain skills necessary in a leader but they can be taught by creating the proper environment and arranging the necessary resources.
Another factor that can play a role to let us ‘spot’ a leader is the circumstance – the need of the time, when a certain group of people are ‘required to be led’. At other times this leader might seem to be passive.
The media can play a huge role in pointing out and acting as the eye of the general masses about who is a leader and what is needed to be present in one.
I want to emphasize the soft skills and their necessities here. Try applying your critical thinking and learning skills to evaluate what is right and what is wrong.
As a leader, seen or unseen to the masses, it is not only what life gives you but also what you give back to it through your judgements, decisions, and self-empowerment. This, over time, can make you a leader.