Leaders — Born or Made?

Are Leaders Born or Made?


By: Drew Wherry – 4 May 2015


What makes a good leader?  There are many qualities that can define a leader.  Motivating, inspirational, smart, kind, loyal, honorable, the list goes on and on.  From my time in the military I have experienced both good and poor leadership.  Truth be told… many of them shared the same qualities. So the question remains are these people born with these traits or are they learned? And if they are learned then why do we still have bad leaders?

Well I’m here to tell you that the answer is….not so simple.  You see I believe that leaders are both born and made.  Yes there are certain qualities that people are born with that gives them the potential of becoming a good leader, but to become a truly great leader you must always be willing to learn and better yourself.

There are hundreds of lists, articles, and blogs on how to be a good leader, and in my time in the Army I have read my fair share.  The one that I strive to live my life by was written by Major Dick Winters, commander of the famed “Band of Brothers.” The Leader of the WWII 5046th Parachute infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division wrote in his book, “Beyond Band of Brothers: the War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters” his Ten Principles for Success.

  1. Strive to be a leader of character, competence, and courage.
  2. Lead from the front. Say, “Follow me!” and then lead the way.
  3. Stay in top physical shape – physical stamina is the root of mental toughness.
  4. Develop your team. If you know your people, are fair in setting realistic goals and expectations, and lead by example, you will develop teamwork.
  5. Delegate responsibility to your subordinates and let them do their job. You can’t do a good job if you don’t have a chance to use your imagination and creativity.
  6. Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.
  7. Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.
  8. Take a moment of self-reflection. Look at yourself in the mirror every night and ask yourself if you did your best.
  9. True satisfaction comes from getting the job done. They key to a successful leader is to earn respect – not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.
  10. Hang Tough! – Never, ever, give up.

Leadership is an important topic because nonprofits live and die by their leadership. Bored members, CEO, Executive Directors, and middle managers all must provide guidance and leadership for a nonprofit to thrive.  Lack their of can leave employees and volunteers wondering just what the they are suppose to do and why.

Whether you are a volunteer, paid employee or chairmen of the bored you can be a leader.  What type is up to you.




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