What makes a leader?

You often hear the phrase ‘leaders are born, not made.’ Yet you also see behaviours in so many organizations where those who are leaders just aren’t the right people and haven’t a clue what leadership is all about.

They seem to think that a “Being a Natural Leader for Dummies” book is all they need to be one. I have no idea whether the popular Dummies guide series includes such a book, by the way. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there was one, though.

So I found it refreshing to read an article in the September issue of Fast Company on leadership, written by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Halberstam.

This is the key message:

If leadership can’t be taught or transferred, how do you foster it? Where do you find leaders, and how do you create them? The truth is that in most fields, it’s a natural process. Leaders are men and women who have chosen the right profession. They’re good at it, and because they’re good at it, they like it, and because they like it, they’re even better at it. They’re so good at it that they’d rather work than play. They’re naturals, and excelling comes naturally as well. They’ve understood their field from the start, and they’ve studied it without even knowing they’ve studied it. They could look around from the day they joined an organization and understand the talents of those who went before them, understand the people around them, and know when and just how hard to push them.

Fast Company | The Greatness That Cannot Be Taught