Are leaders born or made?

It's a question often discussed about in leadership development circles – are leaders born or made?

Even after decades of research, there seems to be no consensus on whether those who reach the top have been pre-configured to do so, or whether it's down to extensive learning, training and development. Some might suggest that it's really a blend of both – but to what extent do these factors play a role in a leader's success?

While we may still be far from determining the truth, it's worth taking a look at the theories and viewpoints that have been offered so far and what they teach us about the human capacity for leadership.

Can leadership be taught?

What do leaders – in the human corporate world – think of the matter?

The Center for Creative Leadership conducted an extensive survey of almost 400 executives around the world and posed to them this age-old question. More than half (52.4 per cent) believed that leaders are in fact made, while fewer than one in five (19.1 per cent) said they are born. The rest felt it was more down to an equal mix of both.

In addition, the majority of respondents believed life experiences (46 per cent) are the most important factor in creating leaders. Over a third (34 per cent) said training was most important, while 20 per cent said character traits have the biggest influence.

“All groups overwhelmingly agree that people become leaders in large part as a result of experiences that help them learn how to be a leader,” the report concludes.

The opinions of some of the world's top business leaders suggest that with the right training and learning experiences, practically anyone can tap into their high potential leadership.

So what do you think – are leaders born or made?