Are Leaders Born or Made?

Both. Look to The Leadership Challenge for the answer.

Learning leadership theories and concepts is good. So is reading biographies of famous leaders and organizations that have broken the mold, both financially and in creating admirable and productive workplace cultures. But it takes much more than that to learn to lead.

Was Martin Luther King born a charismatic orator and leader? Was John F. Kennedy? How about Susan B. Anthony or Margaret Thatcher? While they may ultimately have all been acknowledged as leaders, the talents and skills and behaviors that brought them recognition didn’t come imbedded in their DNA. Each practiced their craft, honed their talent, and adapted behaviors that engendered trust and loyalty. In many different ways, they all developed other individuals willing to follow before they could become leaders. In fact, the only thing every leader has in common with every other leader is that they were all, indeed, “born”.

Leadership is not a gift at birth. The ability to lead is developed through learning and practice.

The Leadership Challenge® is an evidence-based path to achieve the extraordinary that dispels the myth that leadership is reserved only for the select few. Instead, it approaches leadership as a measurable, learnable, and teachable set of behaviors that can be practiced and learned by anyone, regardless of title or position.

From the shop floor to the C-Suite, leadership becomes everyone’s business.

Created by noted leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in the early 1980s, and first identified in their internationally best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge (now in its sixth edition and more than 2.5 million), The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model is the bedrock of this global campaign to liberate the leader in everyone. The authors conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed thousands of case studies, and analyzed more than two million survey questionnaires to understand those times when leaders performed at their personal best. From all of that research emerged five common practices:

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*Model the Way

  • Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared values
  • Set the example by aligning actions with shared values

Inspire a Shared Vision

  • Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities
  • Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations

Challenge the Process

  • Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and by looking outward for innovative ways to improve
  • Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience

Enable Others to Act

  • Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating reltionships
  • Strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence

Encourage the Heart

  • Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence
  • Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community

Considered the most trusted source for developing leaders, this powerful model of leadership and its highly credible measurement instrument, The Leadership Practices Inventory® (LPI® 360) has now been used by over 5 million individuals around the globe. And ongoing research studies consistently confirm that when ordinary people utilize The Five Practices to enable those around them, employee engagement increases, customer and employee satisfaction improves, stress and absenteeism decrease, and teams perform at higher levels.


Ready to learn more about a clear, evidence-based path to become the best leader you can be? Download a sample LPI 360 Individual feedback report today.

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*Used with permission from The Leadership Challenge® ©James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, published by John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved.

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Samantha Kerrigan