For as long as I can remember, there’s been a debate about whether entrepreneurs are born or made. Are the traits of tenacity, vision, optimism, and coping with ambiguity innate? Or can one acquire them over time?
Interestingly, I rarely hear a similar discussion about leadership, much less a debate. But I’m going to guess that, like entrepreneurship, there are many people out there who think that leaders are born not made.
I disagree, and here’s why.
- It’s well-accepted that empathy is the core attribute of successful leadership.
- Empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence (EQ), defined as “the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.”
- Daniel Goleman, the “godfather” of EQ, has long argued (based on scientific evidence) that emotional intelligence can be learned or acquired over time.
- If EQ can be acquired, so can empathy. Therefore, one can learn the core attribute of being a successful leader.
Of course, that in itself does not make one a successful leader. But it does cause me to believe that leaders can be made…just like entrepreneurs.