In a recent interview, I was asked, “are leaders born, made or gifted?”

My answer?

All of the above.

I do believe that great leaders are born with natural instincts and personality traits that equip them for leadership, but I also believe that leadership has to be developed.  A Fast Company article posted today said this:

The first thing Tom Kolditz wants you to know about leaders is that most of them didn’t emerge from diapers to direct teams naturally. “If you look at the research done, the qualities leaders were born with, [such as] intelligence and attractiveness, account for 30 percent of leadership,” says the retired brigadier general, who spent the last 12 years of his career running the leadership program he developed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“What that means is that 70 percent is learned–from your parents or the school of hard knocks or leader development programs. That’s a big part that is malleable and attainable through training,” he says.

I’m not sure where the 30% statistic comes from but I do tend to agree with Kolditz.  We are born with leadership instincts, but to really develop as a leader takes training, development and coaching.  In that way, you could argue that leaders are made.

So how does leadership as a spiritual gift fit into the equation?

I would submit that much like we are born with leadership instincts that can be further developed, those who are believers in Christ and receive the spiritual gift of leadership must develop that gift in order to see it fully come alive and flourish.

In fact, if leadership is one of your spiritual gifts I Timothy 4:14 suggests that we have a scriptural mandate to develop that gift: “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you.”

Born and made, gifted and developed.

While there is a certain element of leadership that is imparted to us, those of us who aspire to develop as leaders must cultivate our growth.  Great leadership doesn’t just magically happen.  We have to study, learn, pray and keep at it, learning from every circumstance and opportunity.

What do you think?  Are leaders born, made or gifted?

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