Recently during my lecture to MBA students, I was asked if Leaders are born or they are made. This question has been asked several times and there are various studies you will find on the internet taking one side or the other. There is a research available on Google which states that leadership is about one-third born and two-thirds made.
I have a different theory – Leaders are neither born nor can they be made, Leaders BECOME…
Let’s understand this better. On further investigation on internet or leadership books, you will find various qualities that a leader must have, like they need to be good in communication, focus on developing others, encourage strategic thinking, create inspiring vision etc. etc. But what they don’t mention is that there is only one BIG criteria for defining a leader – One who has follower/s.
Isn’t it simple… You can be a supervisor, trainer, manager, vice president or a CEO and you can be very good at your job, but you can only be called a leader if you have followers. This also means that leadership is not role dependent, you can be a leader even if you have a single follower depending on your role/designation. Of course that’s a separate discussion that the efficacy of your leadership is dependent on the number of followers that you may have, or in my words, number of lives you have touched / impacted.
Now how do you get someone to follow you? You can’t hire a follower, you can’t pressurise someone nor can you convince / train someone to follow you. Followership is something people do out of their own will.
Ask yourself, who do you follow… Do you follow a leader… Why do you follow her/him?
You will also realise that the leader you follow, you also TRUST them. Enlightening, isn’t it…
Here, I would like to introduce you to a term called “Servant Leadership”. You will find multiple books written on this subject and the common message in all the books is that you work as a servant of your team members. You are their care-taker, their guardian and their buck stops at you. I am saying ‘Servant’ and not ‘slave’, there is a difference. You see ‘servant’ is someone who takes care of your ‘needs’ while ‘slave’ is someone you want all your ‘wants’ to be taken care of.
That’s the reason why I say that Leaders BECOME… Leadership is an outcome, a result of you handling your team members with lots of care and concern regularly, consistently and religiously.
Let me list down some characteristics of a LEADER –
- Leaders are human and they treat everyone around them as a human-being