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15 Entrepreneurs Debate if You Can Learn to be a Leader

Being in leadership is not always easy. You have to walk the talk and face everyday challenges that come with leadership. Some people prefer to enroll in a program or have someone to walk with them through the process to becoming an effective leader. It’s argued that this may not necessarily make you a great leader and you have to possess this skills as opposed to learning them. We asked entrepreneurs and business owners on whether or not one can learn to be a leader and here the insightful responses;

#1- I believe fully that leadership is a skill that can be learned.

Photo Credit: Melinda Chung

I was a shy child.  I often played by myself during school recess, and I had a hard time getting to know new people. When I co-founded a startup in college and papered the campus with flyers, I didn’t even tell anyone that the startup was mine.  I was afraid of criticism and failure. Twenty years later, I now lead teams of up to 30 people, inspire trust and belief in upper management and deliver stronger business results than ever before.  And I’ve just launched a new venture and am promoting it like a marketing machine. hat happened?  Two key changes: 1)   I took on a growth mindset and learned to frame feedback in positive ways as well as to coach myself on this. 2)   I watched leaders and emulated key behaviors that were effective.  I also identified behaviors from poor leaders that I did not want to emulate.  I pulled from various leaders and practiced until I had a style that worked for me. In both of these areas, I actively pushed myself to improve and practice in order to become a stronger leader.  I know anyone can do it – you just have to want to be better, and you just have to practice.

Thanks to Melinda Chung, Product Marketing Bootcamp!


#2- It’s nearly impossible to separate nature and nurture

Photo Credit: Brock Blake

I get asked this question a lot, as four of the six kids in my family are founders, CEOs or presidents of companies. Were we born ready to start companies or did our influential parents set us on a path to entrepreneurship? Modern psychological research points to the fact that it’s nearly impossible to separate nature and nurture. Our genes influence the way we experience our environments, and our environments and experiences influence our natural tendencies. There’s obviously something unique about people who succeed as founders of companies, but I would say there’s no single characteristic (either learned or inherited) that guarantees entrepreneurial success. It takes all types of strengths and individuals to drive innovation, change and revolution. I truly believe that entrepreneurial success is about a steadfast resolve and refusal to quit. Entrepreneurship is enduring long hours and late nights and uncertainty over making ends meet. It’s risk-taking, mistake-making and change-embracing.

Thanks to Brock Blake, Lendio!


#3- The skills are taught but hustle and hunger are from within

Photo Credit: Krish Ramineni

70% of leadership I believe is taught .30% of it to a certain extent is innate. Many of us focus on the 70% because rightly so it’s the controllable stuff. You can teach a leader to be more articulate, explain the vision well, and maybe even be an empathetic manager. These are skills not everyone is just born with. Some are better than others, but it requires constant refining and practice. I’ve messed up plenty of times before learning to take it in stride. The best skills aren’t taught in a classroom but when you are interacting with people. Nothing is more captivating then bringing together people to achieve a common goal. The part where some innate skills make this easier is for those who are more attuned with people. It’s one thing to give a presentation. It’s another thing to be able to inspire someone from the way you say something. I’m not saying extroverts are the only ones that can do this. In fact, I think some of the best CEOs and leaders are introverts because they consciously think about how others feel. Some folks are more charismatic than others. Some are more confident than others. There’s nothing that hardwork can’t help cover, but fundamentally these innate skills can give someone a leg up when trying to be a more effective leader. I always say that skills can be taught but hustle and hunger have to come from within. That I believe is what helped me lead teams more effectively and hire other folks who can take on more leadership responsibility.

Thanks to Krish Ramineni, Fireflies AI!


#4- Most leaders are self-made

Photo Credit: Blair Nicole

Although some leadership skills may be innate, the vast majority of leaders are self-made. Not only does Behavioral Theory support the notion that training and practice can facilitate leadership skills development, but myriad real life examples also support this idea. Leaders such as Bill Gates and Tony Robbins are prime examples of people who were intentional about developing and honing their leadership skills, despite early life circumstances that may have been to their disadvantage. True leadership ability is not just a matter of practice and skill, but also integrity. In my professional experience, it’s been the times when I’ve chosen to take the high road that have really differentiated me as a leader in my field.

Thanks to Blair Nicole, MediaMogulsPR!


#5- Everyone is born with the potential

Photo Credit: John Linden

Some people are born great leaders or at least learn how to lead early on in their lives. But, I believe that everyone has the potential to be a leader. If you can teach yourself to communicate well, do what you say you’re going to, and take responsibility when things go wrong, you can be a leader. Even natural leaders have to keep honing their leadership skills. They have to practice, like athletes, to ensure that they don’t lose their abilities over time.

Thanks to John Linden, MirrorCoop!


#6- Leadership starts right after you’re born

Photo Credit: Chris Carter

In my opinion, it starts with when they were born. How they grow up and what type of person they are also plays a role. But, I also believe that leaders are definitely made. You are made to be the person who runs the ship. You are the leader. No one else is going to show you how to do it. You must lead by example and lead the team forward. You also must be willing to learn how to lead.

Thanks to Chris Carter, Approyo!


#7- A combination of nature and nurture

Photo Credit: Will Craig

I don’t really think that some people are born to be leaders and some aren’t– I think the question has an answer that’s much more complex.. I believe that most people have the capacity to become leaders, if they put their minds to it. To me, everyone has the potential to be a leader if they’re willing to work hard because every person has unique talents and weaknesses. Becoming a leader is about knowing how to harness your talents to your long-term objectives whilst mitigating your weaknesses.

Thanks to Will Craig, LeaseFetcher!


#8-I suppose leadership is not an inborn talent

Photo Credit: Alexander Sergeev

If you work hard, you’ll get enough chances to develop this skill or quality. As a business owner, I always follow the quote by Michael Altshuler The bad news is time flies, the good news is you’re the pilot. Successful leadership requires the coordination of analytical, organizational and administrative skills. All of these skills can be evolved if you really want to be the pilot! However, effective management means more. The qualities that make a good leader vary greatly depending on the industry, companies, and strategies. There are some canonical qualities of a good leader and everyone who wants to be a real manager or a leader, should follow them. This set of qualities and skills is not short, I’d just list the following: Playing as a team member Responsibility Assertiveness and the sense of purpose Orientation towards results Ability to delegate Effective communication Transparency Taking risks Ability to find time for fun.

Thanks to Alexander Sergeev, Hygger.io!


#9- Made through experience, successes and failures

Photo Credit: Shane Pliska

I lead the company that my father founded 45 years ago. I’ve been asked was this planned? Where you groomed as a child to lead Planterra? The answer is no. Even though I always had a side job at the family business growing-up, I didn’t know I wanted to run the company until I was an adult. Even when I expressed that ambition, me or nor my family truly knew if I had the right stuff. It was never assumed that I would be some natural born leader that would transform the business. My leadership skills were made through experience, successes and failures. I learned that the company’s success is achieved by the leaders within the company and the team, not me as an individual. But it would be untrue to credit the successes to only experience or learned theory, getting through tough times requires resilience. I don’t know where resilience comes but for me it’s from within. No matter how tough the challenges, I never stop visualizing, dreaming or thinking about the future of my company. It is my ever-adapting vision of the future that gives me purpose and motivates me to never give-up.

Thanks to Shane Pliska, Planterra!


#10-Leaders are 100% made!

Photo Credit: Daniel Nyiri

However it is important that the way you grow up will determine what type of leader you are going to become. Some people will become the most amazing leaders with less work then others. Look at Steve Jobs. He was a horrible leader at first. Then he worked at it for a very long time and he became one of the most amazing leaders of our times.

Thanks to Daniel Nyiri, 4U Fitness!


#11-Leaders are made — And it’s your job to make them

Photo Credit: Laurie Richards

Although the occasional leader is born into the right circumstance and called to lead, most leaders are made. Some begin their leadership training in families where they are expected to lead siblings and cousins through challenging times. They may continue their training leading classmates in student government, athletic teams, debate clubs, and more. Many leaders are created on the job. As a manager or fellow leader, it’s your job to make them. Identify leadership characteristics you want to work with, then help them further develop those skills. Teach them strategic decision-making skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and other leadership skills. Then stand aside and let them practice them. Treat them as you would a thoroughbred horse. Give them their head. Don’t break their spirit.

Thanks to Laurie Richards


#12-A little of both

Photo Credit: Christopher Watson

I recall reading somewhere that Bill Clinton credits much of his ability to ‘work a room’ to the fact that he grew up learning how to avoid conflict with his alcoholic step father. Was he born to do this or was this a learned behavior? I think his nature influenced his nurture and that this is true of all leaders.

Thanks to Christopher Watson, EverSpark Interactive!


#13- I’m in the camp of leaders being made

I’m fortunate enough to have worked with some wonderful people who had great potential, but had yet to realize it. A combination of coaching, cajoling and mentorship had the effect of helping people move into leadership positions and excel at what they do. Like any skill, leadership can be learned if the desire is there. When someone with great potential is provided with a solid path and entrusted with an opportunity to learn and practice leadership skills, amazing things can happen!

Thanks to Richard Pummell, DevelopIntelligence!


#14-Genetics certainly plays a role in leadership

Photo Credit: Erica Hartwig

A leader must be both articulate, and able to adroitly converse with both clients, and members of their company. Intelligence is also needed to be able to navigate all the obstacles, and nuances of business. Education, and empirical experience is also paramount. I feel the best combination is a bright outgoing person, that is both educated, and has experience in the business. I believe this person will succeed in business.

Thanks to Erica Hartwig, Organic Moments Photography!


#15- Everyone has the capacity but some are better

Photo Credit: Gennady Litvin

Are leaders born or made? This question has been asked numerous of times with strong cases on either side but I honestly believe this – almost anyone has the capacity to be a leader but some are naturally suited than others to be one. Take sports, for instance, Kobe Bryant one of the best to play the game of basketball is considered to be a leader in the game. His  teammates trusted and acknowledged him. While you could say that he was a leader built from immense hard work and dedication, which is true, I also believe that there is something in him that demanded the attention of everyone he was around. A natural charisma that emulated from him and motivated the people around him. So to give you my answer, I believe that leaders are made but I also believe that some people are just better wired for the position. Steve job, love him or hate him he was definitely a natural leader.

Thanks to Gennady Litvin, Moshes Law!


Are leaders born or made? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community

 

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This is a post from a CEO Blog Nation writer. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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