A long-running debate focuses on whether leadership is inborn or learned. My personal belief is that it is both. There are people who possess a natural charisma, presence, and connection to others that compels people to follow them and be inspired by them. There are also many, many people who have worked to develop leadership skills through training, self-evaluation, feedback from others, mentoring, and trial and error, to name a few. We can find leaders – natural and cultivated – at all levels throughout organizations.

A recent post on the SmartBrief for Leadership blog shared The six signs of a natural leader. The writer cited six factors to look for when you want to spot the born leaders in your organization – willingness to ask questions, forward thinking, tendency to help others, being sought after for advice, being noticed , and who they are in their personal life.

If you’re someone who looks at that list and says, “That’s not me, so I must not be a leader,” do not fret. While the SmartBrief blog calls these all signs of a natural leader, they are also qualities that, for the most part, can be developed, cultivated, and learned. In fact, there are three additional aspects that are often spotted in born leaders and that also can be developed that I would add to the list:

  • Humility – A natural leader is able to recognize and own up to their weaknesses, and is not afraid to admit mistakes. Arrogance and superiority are not in their DNA. They are willing to look at failures as opportunities to learn, grow, and be even better.
  • Adaptability – Someone who can “read the room,” sense what is going on, and shift their approach shows signs of being a natural leader. They are able to adjust their style, tone, and language in a way that meets people where they are and influences them in a positive way.
  • Curiosity – Another indication that someone is a natural leader is their willingness to learn and explore what is unknown or different. They can move easily across cultures, skillfully interact with people who are different from them, and see new experiences as a positive adventure.

As the post points out, once you recognize a born leader in your midst, it is up to you to nurture him or her, feed those natural leadership instincts, and give them the opportunity and exposure they need to learn and develop the leadership skills they need to succeed. Like a diamond in the rough, once you find it, unearth it, and polish it, you have a gem.

How have you recognized a born leader in your organization?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

To learn more about skills born leaders possess, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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