Are Great Leaders Born or Made?

A Businessman Looking at His Documents Inside the Car

It’s the eternal question. While “born” leaders may display certain traits early in life, the good news is anyone with the right motivation can learn, nurture and refine skills to become a great leader.

In my last blog, 8 Skills that Make Good Leaders Great, I outlined the skills that can be learned and honed to transform a good leader into a great one. Now I will provide three actions to implement today that will build those skills and quickly improve your effectiveness as a leader and the results you see.

Action 1: Develop Awareness

“You find what you need most where you least want to look” – Karen Brown

Self-awareness is the most foundational element of extraordinary leadership because it is a path to authenticity. To truly know what you’re made of, allows you to grasp how you relate to the world, and recognize that your thought and behavioral patterns drive your decisions and actions (or inactions) and influence outcomes.

With authenticity comes both self-esteem and humility, further opening you to an appreciation and understanding of what others face. Honing this very process is the cornerstone of leadership transformation and Velocity’s coaching approach.

Action 2:  Find Your Rhythm and Keep It Up

“Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” – Henry David Thoreau

We each have our own biorhythms that drive how much sleep we need, when its easiest to exercise, when we work most effectively, and when we are most creative. Rather than feeling obligated to a traditional schedule, learn what works for you – and schedule it. Instead of letting daily fires consume your time, routinely block your schedule for the times of day you do your best thinking — allowing enough time for both strategic and creative thinking.

Do what it takes to maintain a healthy body, mind, and spirit – they are all connected and ignoring one means you can’t perform optimally. By scheduling adequate breaks for your brain and body to perform at their best, you are setting yourself up for greater success.

Action 3: Foster Communication & Kindness

“We rise by lifting others.” – Robert Ingersoll

Great leaders elevate the self-worth of their followers by helping others improve their circumstances and how they view themselves. Here are a few steps you can take today:

  • Listen and seek to understand; this reinforces the value of those around you.
  • Ask questions that draw others into the conversation and invite collaboration.
  • Make it OK to speak freely and define mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve.
  • Speak the truth with kindness (called Kind Truths) yet acknowledge your own vulnerability and mistakes; it makes you human and builds trust while demonstrating strength and courage.

Being a great leader means giving to others for their benefit. The people you lead, constantly give to you, especially if you hold a role high in your company hierarchy. When great leaders come to mind, so do thoughts of what they have given. Those are the leaders that make a difference and will be remembered as great.

Velocity Leadership Consulting

Velocity Leadership Consulting focuses on helping executive leaders become extraordinary by uncovering their blind spots and learning skills and specific actions they can put into play. Using our unique, science-based, Power Pathways™ approach, we bring leadership teams to new levels with rapid results, transforming both cultures and the bottom line.