Are Leaders born or made?





Leadership is the ability to articulate a vision, embrace the values of the vision and nurture an environment where everyone can reach the organizations goal and their own personal needs.  Leadership is an indescribable ability based on concrete principles and a tool that anyone can learn that helps guides an organization or group of people in a beneficial direction or to a valuable destination.


The ability to get work done with and through others, while at the same time winning their confidence respect, loyalty and willing cooperation. Before we get started, let’s define leadership.  Leadership is a complex process by which a person influences others to accomplish a mission, task, or objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.  A person carries out this process by applying her leadership attributes (belief, values, ethics, character, knowledge, and skills).


The complete definition highlights the difference between simply managing and being a leader.  Good leaders are made not born.  If you have the desire and will power, you can become an effective leader; Good leaders develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training and experience.


There is very little evidence that the so-called “naturally born’ leader really exists.  Continuing and ongoing studies are showing that the concept of a “natural born” leader has little merit.  One reason for this error may be that people often mistake “charisma” for leadership. It is true that some leaders possess a great amount of  charisma.  However, many leaders do not. In reality leaders are not born, they are forged by many factors.  Some factors that often forge effective leadership traits are education, preparation, experience and opportunity.


To inspire your people into higher levels of teamwork, there are certain things you must know and, do.  These do not come naturally, but are acquired through continual work and study. The best leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills.  Although your position as a manager, supervisor, lead, etc. gives you the authority to accomplish certain tasks and objectives in the organization this power does not make you a leader…. It simply makes you the boss. Leadership makes people want to achieve high goals and objectives, while on the other hand, bosses tell people to accomplish a task or objective.


Bass’s theory of leadership states that there are three basic ways to explain how people become leaders.  The first two explain the leadership development for a small number of people.  These theories are: Some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles.  This is the Trait Theory.


A crisis of important event may cause a person to rise to the occasion, which brings out extraordinary leadership qualities in an ordinary person.  This is the Great Events Theory.


People can choose to become leaders.  People can learn leadership skills.  This is the Transformational Leadership Theory.  It holds that, contrary to popular belief, no one is born a leader but some people do have certain abilities that predispose them to developing into a leader like public speaking, and many other skills, leadership can be learned and developed.  While there is no agreed list of qualities that make a good leader and different leadership styles suit different situations.  It is the most widely accepted theory today.  Born leaders are the ones who have inborn qualities of a leader.  Where as, in case   of made leader, it is often a mentor who shapes a leader.


Born Leader: DhirubhaiAmbani, JRD Tata,BalThackeray, Dalai Lama,ShivajiMaharaj,IndiraGandhi, Gandhiji,Alexander, Shree Ram.

Made Leader: KMBirla,IKGujral, the greatNarayanMurthy,SwamiVivekanand.

Dhirubhai Ambani – Rely on him

DhirajlalHirachandAmbanipopularly known asDhirubhaiAmbanihas become corporateIndia’s living legend.  Ambani, a high school dropout from Chorwad inGujarat’s Junagadh district, has puzzled conformists and competitors with his brand of management where the only things that mattered were results and benefits for his shareholders.


Dhirubhai had been an opportunity right from his childhood.  All he needed was a whiff of a business opportunity and he was to tap it.  During the Mahashivratri festival, he would sell ganthia to the local community to earn money.  Later, due to shortage of money, he left education after matriculation and went toAdento earn a living. He worked for almost 8 hours in a petrol pump where he learnt all about the oil business until a day came when he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.  He came back toBombayto start his own business.  With a loan, he started Reliance Commercial Corporation, involved in general merchandising.  He then started his yarn business in the 60s followed by his own spinning mill in 1966 known as Reliance Textile Industries.


He firmly believed that if a person wishes to succeed, then complete access to information is crucial. He always collected updated  information on competitors, market size, government rules and regulations etc.


He believed in ‘Simple living, modern thinking’.


He was always a pioneer. He would act instantly and capitalize on market  changes, new policies etc. and would implement his plans successfully.  He did not believe in meeting demand but creating demand.  He always produced in large quantities.  He always aimed at providing best goods to the consumer at affordable prices.  Moreover, he unlike other leaders, he was an expert in various fields.  He was a manufacturing as well as marketing wiz. He knew how to offer the right product mix, identify markets and establish efficient distribution centers and structures, which holds true for one of his famous brands, Vimal.  He is also referred to as the ‘Manchester of India’.


He didn’t mind copying ideas, which he could implement better than his competitors.  As in the case of copying the concept of selling through showrooms to counter the resistance from traditional markets from Bombay Dyeing. He always had the dynamism and confidence in future and was always ready to go against all odds.  He always believed in himself.


He always believed in his responsibility towards stakeholders.  He was also known as the ‘stock master messiah’.  This is because once some marwari men were trying to bring down the price of his shares by short selling; he counter attacked them in turn earned a hefty sum from them.  He always had a wide investor base and most of his subscriptions were always oversubscribed.  An innovator in the financial market, he reintroduced concepts like partial convertible bonds, fully convertible bonds etc. he always believed in ‘think big, think fast, and think ahead’.


Dhirubhai is one of the greatest leaders ofIndiawho had the zeal to achieve something big rather than just earning money.  He worked till his death.

As a true leader, Dhirubhai  had once said, ‘People think I have finally arrived, but I think I have just begun’.

In 20 years Dhirubhai’s Reliance empire has grossed sales of Rs.13,740 crore (Rs.67 crore in 1997) and made a net profit of Rs.1,653 crore for the year ended 1998.   Its assets have grown to Rs.24,388 crore from Rs.33 crore in 1977. When most industry players went to the banks for money, Dhirubai went  directly to the public. A fighter, Ambani always tried to safeguard the interests of his investors’ along with his company’s.  ‘If Reliance bets on the right people, it will always remain a company of entrepreneurs’. SaysMr.Ambani.


Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam – The “Missile Man’ of India

He was born in Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram district of Tamil Nadu onOctober 15, 1931.  His father rented out boats  to payAbdulKalam’s school fees.  The young man distributed newspapers to help and contribute towards the household and his school expenses.  He did his B.Sc. atSt. Joseph’s College, Trichi, and DMIT in Aeronautical Engineering at MIT,Madras.


AbdulKalamjoined the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1958.  Later he moved to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) where he succeeded in putting the 35-Kg Rohini-I satellite on a low-earth orbit with the help of the SLV-III (Satellite Launch Vehicle). After spending 19 prolific years in ISRO, he returned to DRDO to head the country’s missile development programme, which culminated in the successful launch of theAgniand the Prithvi.


He went on to be the Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development, and has been appointed Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. As chief ofIndia’s defence research and development programme, Kalam, transformed moribund government organizations into fighting machines that can deliver. The three underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran range of Rajasthan despite mounting pressure to abandon nuclear programme under his able guidance has made India reaffirm its nuclear preparedness.


The only brief experience that he had abroad was in 1963-64 when he was invited by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to spend four months in theUSat the Wallops Island Rocketry Centre and the Langley Research Centre.


He has been awarded with theIndia’s Highest Civilian Award the “BharatRatna” in 1998. Othe rprestigious awards include Dr. Biren Roy Space Award, Om Prakash Basin Award for Science and Technology, National Nehru Award, Arya Bhatta Award. He is also the author of “Wings of Fire” – an autobiography.

The 66 year old, scientist leads an austere life and when he is not working his usual 18 hours a day,  – he also writes poetry and plays the veena.

Krishnawas a born leader to which the Indian community looks at.  He is someone who is the best definition of successful leader.


Similarity between Dhirubhai and Lord Krishna

  • Holistic vision – both possessed it.Krishnaalways knew that was happening and developed timely strategies.
  • Well networked – both had strong contacts with people, and knew how to get work done.
  • Opportunist and shrewd.
  • Aggressive, proactive and highly political.
  • Very creative.
  • People oriented leaders.
  • Optimum utilization of all resources, also recognize and identify skills of people.
  • Situational leaders.
  • High level of confidence and self-belief.
  • Quick decision maker.
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