by Linda Talley Ph.D. | April 30, 2015

Linda Talley, Ph.D.Scientists such as myself have been studying the construct of leadership for more than 100 years, so we know quite a lot about effective and ineffective leaders. One issue that I want to make clear is the question of whether leaders are born or made. From my teaching in higher education, I have discovered that my students believed that leaders were born, which left many of them at a disadvantage. Thank goodness for their studies, as their eyes were opened to many nuances of leadership.

For those of you who believe leaders are born, you are correct. For those of you who believe leaders are developed or made, you are correct, too! However, leaders are more made than born. The ratio is about two-thirds made and one-third born. So, yes, you may be born with leadership traits, but it is really how you develop them that determines your leadership abilities. And, keep in mind, there are people in this world who are born with many leadership traits, but choose not to develop or use them.

In order to be an effective leader, your best avenue is developing leadership traits, characteristics and skills. We know these can be developed and produce more effective leaders. For example, traits predict leadership, but emotional intelligence predicts effective leadership. Emotional intelligence is something that can be developed!

The key for identifying and developing effective leaders is to use leadership traits for leader selection, but spend more time and emphasis on trait, characteristic and skill development. This can be done via personalized/individual study, corporate or association training programs, or coaching. Whatever way is chosen, the goal is to enhance the made part of leadership in order to create a more effective leader.

Linda Talley, Ph.D., is a behavioral theorist, body language expert, leadership development coach and frequent speaker. She is president of Linda Talley & Associates Inc. (