Leadership; Can people learn it or it is an innate trait?

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That is a question as old as humanity. Ancient Greeks believed the leadership is an innate trait. For a reason, the word charisma originated from old Greece meaning “A gift from God.”

TED Talks Why good leaders make you feel safe by Simon Sinek

If the Greeks were right and leadership was innate, we should have a lot of natural leaders in our society.  There are not that many leaders at this moment. Figuring the answer to this question is hard. While working with cadets in the army, there are some that take a leading position naturally and others that need more push to do so or fail in trying to assume command and are sent home. Reading the history of kingdoms teach us that some kings could not achieve being leaders of their people in spite being raised in the Courts.

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3 Psychological Traits Effective Leaders Know How To Manage

Leadership can be hidden in some people until the moment of a crisis when they take the position and lead the people. If not the WW2 Winston Churchill could have been forgotten in history or even worst remembered for is failing in the second world war at the battle of Gallipoli. Churchill as the leader of the UK won the war on the most negative leadership in recent history, Hitler but after the war ended victoriously for England, he lost his job at Downing 10.

Left picture; Churchill signs victory at the wartime, 1943. Right picture Churchill in 1945 elections that he lost.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”. Winston Churchill.

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Leaders are humans

Leaders are humans that respond to the way they were raised and educated. Historians are telling about Alexander the Great that he show leadership since a young age, he was the Son of a King, so his world was of power and orders. Alexander the Great leaded his troops all they to India, a trip to the Moon at that time. He won Darius riding his horse alone in front of all the 200,000 Darius troops and fought himself as one of his soldiers.

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion”. Alexander the Great. 

Some people claim that in the last generation there are only a few leaders and concluded that leadership could be learned and developed with education. From experience of military men and businesspeople they believe that Leaders are made of a mixed factor, DNA, early relationship with family, a father tells his Son that responsibility is something that you take, not wait to be given. The education system may be a negative factor if the kids are not allowed to have their own opinions. As I mentioned above leadership can sprout in times of crisis more than in a time of peace.

TED talks. Great leadership starts with self-leadership. by Lars Sudmann


Billions of dollars were spent in the last 40 years on different programs that were supposed to “develop leadership.” Infinity of theories and models tried to produce Leaders of the people that paid good money but didn’t miraculously become John F. Kennedy. No leader-making secret was found, maybe just a bank account was filled with this dollars. 

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Unfortunately, there is not a magic way, nor a magic wand to touch the people´s foreheads and oops they start to be a leader.

Those programs and the Leadership courses took the tools the techniques and behavior that leader use when they are doing the role of a leader.

Leadership is an identity and a choice of a way of life. Developing leadership identity is something you do not just learn in a course, this is a question of personality that was built at the beginning of life by the environment that the child was rasied , like parents, friends, and school teachers. How can we develop a leadership identity?


Training for better leadership can be successful only when the people that receive this training have some level and interest in being leaders. Teaching and training in a program can give young people experience and confidence that can take years to learn.

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What is Leadership?

In the professional world, the definition of leadership or leader depends on the cultural values. Can we describe what the universal definition of leadership is?

What makes the people go after someone and obey him? Or way they refuse to follow and obey other people? Why as individualists as we can be, will want to be led by another person? Why do some people need to have a “strong leader” while others will stay away from him like its a plague?

The leader of the moment and the leader of a generation

History can show us some great leaders that made essential historical processes, but later they lost their charm and lost democratic elections, Winston Churchill in the UK and David Ben Gurion in Israel are good examples. There are cases of leader that won a few elections without doing any extraordinary achievements. Is it that we need a different type of leader for different situations.

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“An action committed in anger is an action doomed to failure”. Genghis Khan

What is a good leader?

Charisma is something that people like to consider important for a leader; they may forget that Hitler was a charismatic leader. Is it is important to have the charisma to be a leader? It depends on how charismatic and toward what goals the charisma pulls the people or group. There is a big difference between a leader of a country and a leader of a smaller group. Military commanders of low level or a triable worrier need to be an example in the battlefield and lead it, troops, the same time.A corporate manager may lead his subordinate with explicit orders, original plans and good know how in his field.

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Who is a leader?

You can look at the leaders like they are bigger than life, a mythological personality. Who takes the responsibility, have no problem to take a decision under pressure, take care of his people or team is a leader. Of course, there are different types and fields of leaders. There are political leaders like Barak Obama o Margaret Tacher, military leaders like General Norman Schwarzkopf. Business managing leaders. Technological leaders like Steve Jobs.  

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people”. Steve Jobs

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