This is the most frequently asked question about leadership, but I hate hearing the question. Why? Because we already know the answer. Studies using identical twins estimate that leadership is about one-third born (due to genetic factors) and two-thirds made*. Yet, many leaders say the exact opposite -- believing leaders are mostly born. So why is the born vs. made question dangerous?
The answer is that executives who believe that leaders are born, give less attention to leader development, both their own personal development as well the development of those they lead. They are focused on selecting leaders with the "right stuff," and expecting that those leaders' natural abilities will mean organizational success. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Sure, selection is important, but good leader development efforts are more important. Unfortunately, in a down economy leadership development programs are often among the first cuts. It's usually more cost-effective to grow your company's leaders in house,** rather than focusing on hiring the proven (and born) leaders from outside. So greater, not fewer, resources should go into leader development.