Independent Thinking Blog

Is Leadership About Nature or Nurture?

Do you have what it takes to be a leader? And is this even the right question to ask?

John Ryan, president of the Center for Creative Leadership and a former superintentent of the U.S. Naval Academy, has a great column in Business Week that posits that leadership has as much to do with environment as it does with innate abilities. He writes:

If you live in a culture where your colleagues believe you can be a leader and help you develop the skills you need, you will enthusiastically embrace the mantle of leadership… [R]egardless of your occupation, you will view yourself as a leader at home, at work, and in your community. But if you live in a culture that assumes leadership is not for everyone, is dependent on whether you have innate leadership skills, and that leadership is defined by your job title rather than your actions, you will have an entirely different view.


With this concept in mind, Ryan then suggests that organizations need to look at how they manage employees and whether their corporate culture permits risktaking.

This is interesting stuff, not least because of its implications for entrepreneurship. If we applied Ryan’s model to the typical entrepreneur, would we find a similar mindset?

Photo by donireewalker (Flickr).

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