Leaders – Inherent Ability or Learned? By Tom Robinson National Director, National Contract Management Assn This question use to be ask as ―Are leaders Born or Made? ― This enabled me to give my wisecrack remark – All leaders are born at some point. But seriously, this question is probably the most often asked leadership question throughout history. My short answer is yes and yes, let me explain. If you look at the historical study of leader-ship, believe it or not , up until the 1980s ―research‖ showed that all leaders had inherent traits/qualities to include: height, charismatic, outgoing, affluent, educated, and for the most part white males. Fortunately, in-depth real re- search has shown that most of the trait theory was completely unfounded, mostly, but I’ll return to that. We have since learned that for the most part, all are capable to lead and leadership can definitely be learned – which I drew comfort in because I possess very few of the above traits. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes with varied back-grounds. Leadership use to be strongly related to people in positions of power, for example CEOs or General officers, but through research it has been found that leadership is about doing or action not about position. John C Maxwell states that leadership is ―Influence nothing more nothing less‖ . Mark Sanborn in his book ―You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader describes leaders informal and formal that are throughout good organizations. He stresses the outstanding organizations develop a culture of nurturing leaders at all levels and allowing them to flourish. So earlier I said yes, yes. There is still a lot of literature that support s and I do believe some people have innate skills which aid in leadership development. For example, some folks are natural communicators, they have no fear to talk openly to large or small audiences. This is a necessary skill to becoming a good leader. But more importantly than skills, I still believe that affluent people actually still have more leadership opportunities. It should come as no surprise that many of our nation’s leaders past and present come from affluent families. Does being affluent make you a better leader, no but it does give the rich more opportunities along the way. Fortunately, as time passes more and more opportunities have been given to females and people of all ethnicity. This is an extremely good thing because as leadership opportunities widen more diversity is brought in and better leadership decisions made. Leadership opportunities are there for the taken, through learning and experience we can all LEAD. Until next month – remember…leadership is a process and lifelong journey where you learn as you go.