A long time reader, P.K. Seshadri, sent this “quip to enjoy and use in your future posts:

An amateur photographer was invited to dinner with friends and took along a few pictures to show the hostess. She looked at the photos and commented ‘These are very good! Leaders are made not bornYou must have a good camera.’ He didn’t make any comment, but, as he was leaving to go home, he said, ‘That was a really delicious meal! You must have some very good pots’.”

This anecdote succinctly reminds us that it’s the skilled use of the tools that makes the difference. The point made here is pretty obvious. But after decades of working with hundreds of management teams and thousands of strong, aspiring, and wallowing leaders, when it comes to leadership development, obviously the obvious isn’t so obvious! Despite the reams of ongoing research, many people still believe that leaders are born, not made.

It’s a dangerous excuse to believe that leaders are born not made. It takes you off the hook and gives you too easy an out from the difficult work of reframing your outlook and building your leadership skills.

Since I began studying, applying, and teaching leadership skills in 1975, I’ve believed to the core of my being that high performers are made, not born. Otherwise I would have given up long ago! When I was a sales trainer with Culligan Water Conditioning back in the seventies, I wrote a fictitious (and facetious) series of birth and death announcements poking fun at the popular misconception that we’re either born talented or not. I revamped and revised the announcements and penned a passionate passage outlining my argument in the nineties when I wrote Pathways to Performance: A Guide to Transforming Yourself, Your Team, and Your Organization. You can read it on our website in my article, “Leaders are Made, not Born.”

If we are not working hard to continually improve our leadership skills because we weren’t “born with natural talent,” then we are copping out, misinformed, or both.

Thanks for the reminder in your pithy story, P.K. You must have a very good computer!