Leading Made Simple

The “Born Leader” is a Leadership Myth!

I am fully aware that the headline of this article is deliberately provocative. Obviously, there will be a great many people wanting to argue the opposite, I get that, too. However, let’s explore the reasoning together with an open mind…

Leadership has always been important, but we are entering into a new phase of the workplace environment a.k.a. the distributed or remote workforce in which highly developed leadership effectiveness becomes ultra-critical! Leading in an impactful way means engaging and inspiring people, helping them to develop to their full potential, creating an environment of accountability and success, and doing that in a virtual environment. It sure can be done, but it requires a different approach than we are traditionally used to!

The concept that leaders are borne is not valid, especially in today’s business world. Leadership is an acquired skill!


Effective leaders are made!

Here is my challenge to those of you that think differently on this particular issue: Think of any impactful leaders you have had in your environment, you know of, you have read about, or otherwise experienced. Reflect on their behaviors and identify the specific leadership traits making them exceptional leaders.

Now, list these traits and features on a piece of paper, reflect on it and then evaluate which ones might be genetically inherited.

What is your answer after careful open-minded consideration?

The likelihood is that none of their leadership traits are based on their genes.

Alexander the Great was certainly a charismatic and highly effective leader of his time. Was he born great? No. He was born with a keen and intelligent mind. Intense training, mentoring, and preparation made him into an excellent leader. Alexander was taught to be a leader essentially by a team of tutors, foremost by his father and by one of the greatest minds in human history, Aristotle, who himself happened to be the student of Plato.

Leadership is a choice.

There are really three factors defining what I call the “space of leadership”.

1)  The only reason we seek, hire, and develop leaders is to create results.

2)  Leadership is creating results THROUGH people

3)  Leadership is situational.

From my perspective, effective leadership requires an extensive leadership toolbox, the skills & habits to utilize those tools, and an attitude to treat people like fellow human beings without compromise. The latter often being the most difficult task leaders experience because we love to label individuals and groups of people. Keep in mind, the moment we label people we dehumanize them!

The reality is that most leaders have only a limited leadership toolbox often combined with insufficient skills to use them

…not a good recipe for sustainable success. What are the possible reasons for that? Often, we promote our best performers in a certain function to a leadership position. Yet performing the task of effective leadership is vastly different from being an innovative engineer, a highly diligent accountant, a creative lawyer, an excellent medical practitioner, or a motivated sales professional.

Unfortunately, the transition to leadership happens in most cases without complementing the necessary tool and skill sets at the same time. There is an irrational expectation that someone excelling as a sales professional will also be an effective leader of a sales team – these are two distinct functions requiring different tools and skills.

Let me invite you to watch my short video “The Myth of Leadership”, it is less than 9 minutes long and NO selling involved! 😊 …and if you want to give yourself a chance to achieve leadership excellence make the choice of systematic self-development. By the way, no matter how good you are, a professional coach will make you better!


Good luck, stay safe, and help your team to succeed! If you would like to explore additional facets of effective leadership let’s talk!

Manfred Gollent

Manfred Gollent is a certified business coach and the founder of QLI International LLC. He works with a variety of clients from Fortune 500 executives to small business entrepreneurs on leadership and strategy development since 2006. Prior to founding QLI International, Manfred has been a turn-around executive in a Fortune 500 company with global operations. During his 30+ years in the corporate world, he led the rebuilding of underperforming subsidiaries in the United States, Europe, and Asia by developing their leadership team and organization, restructuring their market portfolio, operations and efficiency to improve results toward meeting investor’s expectations. Aside from his international corporate career, Manfred has served on company boards in the UK, Belgium, Norway, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, and the United States.