Leaders Are Made

by | Jun. 21, 2010


Dear Dave,

Do you feel that some people are born leaders, or do you have to read and study to become one?


Dear Michael,

I don't believe anyone is born a leader. I've watched all three of my kids being born, and not once did the doctor say, "Congratulations, Dave! You have a little eight-pound, six-ounce leader!" No, I believe people make choices.

I'm 49 years old, and I've been studying leadership ever since I opened my company almost 20 years ago. I was really awful when I first started. I made so many bad, dumb mistakes! But I'm a world-class leader now. I've learned how to do this stuff, and its taken thousands and thousands of hours of reading and studying and lots of experiences - both good and bad - to get to this point. It's also meant having to realize that I don't know everything and taking time to examine my mistakes and learn from them.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a fabulous book called Outliers. In it, he studied people who are unusually successful. In the process, he discovered that while some people may have a natural predisposition toward some areas, the key was they took the gifts they had and then practiced and studied for thousands of hours to turn their gifts into world-class talents. In other words, these people made choices, and their "talents" were really acquired skills.

This stuff doesn't just occur. You're not a born leader any more than you're a born football player, actor or musician. You may start with a gift, but you have to make a choice to work your tail off if you want to develop that gift to its fullest potential!


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