The question of whether leaders are born for greatness or grow into greatness has raged for years. The nature side will reference Alexander the Great or General George Patton and point to innate personal characteristics that contributed to their success. The nurture camp points to Harry Truman, Abraham Lincoln or Sam Walton as successful leaders that seemed to grow into their roles as leaders.
In the December, 2009 copy of “Fortune Small Business“, Ian Mount picks up the argument as it pertains to entrepreneurs. Are they made or are they born?
Mount points to research and genetic modeling by Scott Shane of Case Western University that suggests 60% of entrepreneurs are born and 40% are made. You can quite easily find similar numbers on the nurture side. The fact that over 500 entrepreneurship programs exist at major American universities suggest academia believes entrepreneurship can be taught. Either that, or they’re just taking your money … which is not out of the question!
I taught entrepreneurship at UMBC for a couple of years and I have to tell you the whole idea that a textbook even exists on the topic blows my mind! I do feel strongly however, that an opportunity exists to teach and mold the attributes and tendencies we normally associate with entrepreneurialism. Similar to developing the leadership abilities in our workforce, we can teach people how to look for opportunities, how to calculate and manage risk, how to find financing, how to write business plans, how to bootstrap and how to structure a business. We can even show people the benefits of the one attribute I most admire in entrepreneurs – dogged stick-to-it-tiveness.
Yeah, great leaders and entrepreneurs are born with certain skills, attributes and tendencies that give them an advantage, but we can create environments where these same attributes are encouraged and fostered.
The bottom line? Don’t spend another second thinking about whether leaders or entrepreneurs are made or born. You’ve been dealt a hand …. play it! Whatever talents, skills, attributes and tendencies you have, continue to focus and build the important skills. Surround yourself with entrepreneurial people and then find ways to help them grow their skills. Whether they were born into it or not, you still have to nurture the seed for any great results.