Whether great leaders are born or made is a common question.
I don’t think their born. You can’t simply be a leader by existing. You may be genetically wired to be more charismatic than most people, but if you don’t put that predisposition to good use, it’ll go wasted. There are many people with character traits which we associate with leadership who don’t exercise leadership in their daily lives.
Until reading this article entitled Great Leaders aren’t born. But they’re not made either by Andreessen Horowitz cofounder and The Hard Thing About Hard Things author Ben Horowitz, I believed that great leaders are made. It’s when someone decides to take a courageous step in a specific direction to advance the cause of a group of people, and follows through on this goal with discipline, that they emerge to be a leader. Being charismatic may help, but it’s meaningless in the absence of a leader’s conviction for what they’re doing.
After reading the article, I still believe that great leaders are made. However, Ben made me realize an important precursor to the creation of a great leader. In order to emerge to be a great leader, you first have to lead yourself. Only if you lead yourself will you be able to lead others.
In order to lead yourself, you first need to find yourself. You need to know your values, your strengths and weaknesses, and the contexts that drive you. This journey of self-discovery, if you choose to embark on it, is how you can develop the foundation to make yourself into a great leader.
Finding yourself is like the foundation on which the building of leadership is constructed. Without a strong foundation, at the slightest earthquake, the building will shake and is very likely to collapse. And you will experience many earthquakes while trying to exercise leadership.
Since the first step of the journey to making yourself into a great leader is finding yourself, great leaders are found.