Is it possible to be a natural-born leader? I’m sure anything is possible. But let’s assume, for the sake of definition, that we are talking about a talented leader that can artfully motivate and inspire their team. Here’s a key point that you should also consider–leaders also produce outcomes. What I am saying: the leader has the talent to naturally achieve team goals or create value. So, it’s not only being the CMO, Chief Motivational Officer, but also producing results based on the mission, vision, and goals of the company. So what would it take to be a natural? Would it mean they have the instinctive ability to inspire others and encourage them to follow their vision? Is that even possible? Well, again, it certainly is possible. I guess the better question is, is it plausible?
It’s best to look at the science here to answer this question. Speaking anecdotally would lead to more unanswered questions. People are born with innate qualities, such as cognitive intellect that lends to being a deeper thinker. Some scientists have concluded that empathy, introversion or extroversion, impulsivity, and positive outlook are genetic in nature. And if that is the case, each of these qualities lends to being natural at leading. So, to some degree, it is plausible to be hardwired to lead.
So what skills make up being a talented leader? In addition to the above, I would also consider being emotionally intelligent, influential among peers, a reliable communicator, and acting as a team player. Do any of these skills come naturally? The science says these are more nurtured traits. That would mean they are developed over time or learned from experience, crisis, or significant life events. But to just be influential, one really only requires motivational tactics that drive action. Does that ability come naturally? It’s still an interesting question. Because the next layer of this influential leader is authenticity. And the question you would have to ask is, with the innate qualities that make an individual predisposed to leading are they genuine and virtuous? What I am getting at, is the leader more transactional by motive, or is there real care to see and get the best out of their people? And is that natural, innate, or inherent?
Sure, a person can be inherently authentic. Generally speaking, authenticity is a disposition. And since dispositions are natural, such as qualities of minds and character, there is certainly plausibility that it could be passed on. But it is far more likely that that level of authenticity is nurtured, rather than genetic. So again, the plausibility exists to have both qualities and the disposition of a natural-born leader.
One point for you to consider is how you view the formality of the term leader. Leader in its traditional sense or expansive in the characterization of being influential in any setting. In the latter, the reality of naturally leading could be very much convincing. My hypothesis is that leading in a free-flow domain without the pretense of institutional structures allows for a restrictive-free utilization of your core strengths. And in this environment, you may sense their authenticity explicitly.
My conclusion is that, although it is plausible, it is a rarity that an individual has this complete makeup. That would mean they have been genetically transferred these core strengths from birth and then authentically expressed them to the people under their care. But leadership is an art and a skill that is learned. Like every other skill, it requires practice. There will be some of you that have natural qualities that level you up on the talent meter. And there will be others that will be required to read and apply those skills until they are accessed more effortlessly. In each design, it can produce a transformational engagement with those that look to you for direction, care, and trust. Check out Chapter 4: Lead Like Mike in my book, Extracting the Leader from Within.
Listen, I have yet to encounter this super-human myself. But I can imagine this unicorn has walked our earth at some point and time. In fact, they may be standing among you right now. If you were shorted these genetic qualities, they are still out there for the taking. But don’t sell yourself short, you have positive qualities that are not listed here that make up your influential allure. When you tap into those qualities you can achieve an equal effect. If you were to ask me, I prefer a leader that has skinned their knee, has a briefcase full of lessons learned and can connect with me based on experiences. But that is neither here nor there when it comes to the topic of the existence of a natural-born leader. So, even though I believe a natural-born leader is a rarity, I would offer that a series of genetic qualities and predisposition of authenticity is reasonable. But because it is such an anomaly, I would recommend building on the qualities you have and go out and be transformational.
David Satchell was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. After joining the United States Air Force, he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and Masters in Human Resources while serving 30 years in the Air Force. After his retirement, he had a stint as an Operations Manager at Amazon. Then, he started his own leadership development company called CORE Leadership Consulting to "Help Leaders Win at Work." Satch's leadership style is to lead by "personal power," and leverages emotional intelligence, situational leadership, personality, and character as his method to inspire his coworkers. He wants to share the lessons he has learned by experience and now through a deep study on leadership, as he's navigated through the ranks and developed a reputation for inspiring individuals and teams toward increased performance.