Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Great Leaders - Born or Bred?

The topic of leadership has long been of interest to me. I’ve read countless books and articles on the subject, and, I continue to do so.
At present, I am in the midst of “Total Leadership”, by Stewart D. Friedman, and I have come up against the question of whether or not great leaders are born, with inherent skills and attributes that destine them to lead, or, whether leadership can be learned over time.
An entire industry has been created to further the skills of leadership, which, at least on the surface, would suggest that leadership can be learned, or at least that is what the authors of these many great books and articles would have us believe.
What do you think? When you reflect on the great leaders that you have personally witnessed in your life, do you feel that they learned how to be great leaders over time, or, were they destined to lead?
What do I think? I believe great leaders were born to lead. They may have improved their skills and intuition over time, benefited from experiences, crises, etc., but they have a natural ability that others can only hope to acquire, to some degree, over time, and, from watching and emulating the great leaders who have provided us with great examples.
Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy. These were all great men, great leaders, born to lead, called to lead. I believe that they were driven by an overwhelming vision to do great things. They didn’t see it as that, but whatever they saw it as, however it manifested itself to them, they could not resist its power. They knew that they had to take up the cause.
These great men, and many other men and women, are driven by their own individual vision, their desire to help others, to show the way, to lead by example, to demonstrate that it can be done.
We owe a lot to many of the great leaders that have taken up the cause, chosen to lead when others would not have chosen the task or challenge that they faced. That which has served to inspire many of us to do what we can, even if it pales in comparison to those that have set such an exemplary example, if we can do but a fraction of the work that needs to be done, then it is our responsibility to do so.
What calls to you? 
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