Leaders aren't born

Drake Editorial Team

There is no such thing as a “Born Leader”. When people talk about born leaders, what they are really referencing is the “X” factor of leadership. What is the “X” factor? Simply stated the “X” factor is the willingness, the desire and the willpower to become an effective leader.

Effective leaders go through a never ending development process that includes education, self-study, training, experience, coaching and mentoring from one or several individuals that have a very positive influence on their personal development.

Leadership is the ability to influence, inspire and motivate others to accomplish specific objectives. It includes creating a culture that helps direct the organization in such a way that it makes it cohesive and coherent, keeping short term tactical goals and objectives in alignment with long term strategic initiatives. The success of leadership in this process is directly influenced by the individual leaders’ beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge and skills.

Position and title may give you power, but power in itself does not make you an effective leader. To become an effective leader there are specific skill sets that you must understand and master. This does not come naturally. It takes dedication, passion and commitment to the process. That commitment, dedication and passion includes a tireless effort to improve on specific skills, and the development of a personal leadership methodology. This is often referred to as your personal leadership model.

If someone were to ask your subordinates to evaluate your leadership abilities, their response to this question would likely not be related to your character, integrity and values. Of course these are important to your success as a leader, but people evaluate your leadership skills based on what you do to figure out who you really are. They are looking for that “X” factor. The “X” factor is what really determines if you are honest, ethical, fair, trustworthy and not self-serving. If the “X” factor does not exist, employees are likely to obey rather than follow and only do exactly what they are told to do and nothing more. If the “X” factor does not exist, your success in developing the skills necessary to become an effective leader is likely to be minimal.

The “X” factor shapes what and who you are as a leader. It involves everything you do and it affects the well-being of the organization. Employees want to follow a leader they respect, one that gives them a clear sense of direction and a strong vision of the future.

Ask yourself these questions to determine if you or other managers in your organization have the “X” factor.


  1. How well do you know yourself with regard to self-improvement and development?
  2. Do you understand, admit and work on personal weaknesses?
  3. Do you seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions, striving to reach new heights?
  4. When things go wrong do you take the blame instead of looking for others to blame?
  5. Does problem solving, decision making and planning come natural to you?
  6. Are you a good role model and do you seek out employees with high potential to coach and mentor?
  7. Do you truly believe in the value of your employees, sincerely caring about their well-being without being so compassionate that it clouds your judgment on competence?

So you believe you and your executive team all have the “X” factor. As effective leaders you must be able to interact with employees, peers, seniors and many other individuals both inside and outside the organization. You must gain the support of many people if you are going to meet or exceed established objectives. This means that you must develop or possess a unique understanding of people.

The “X” factor is the driving force that will help you develop these skills. Human nature is the common qualities of all human beings. People behave according to certain principles of human nature. Understand these principles that govern our behaviour, and success is imminent. Start with the basics by revisiting your college study of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Armed with a refresher of this basic knowledge of human behaviour, you can now begin to reshape your personal leadership model. This is your manner and approach to providing direction, implementing plans and motivating people.

If you have that “X” factor, you can become a very effective leader. But remember, There is no such thing as a “Born Leader”. Effective leaders go through a never ending development process. We never stop learning and we never stop growing. Keep working on your leadership model and share your knowledge and success with other potential future stars that have the “X” factor.

Reprinted with the permission of Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist, and founder of CEO Strategist, LLC. CEO Strategist helps clients create and maintain a competitive advantage. Contact Rick at [email protected] to speak at your next event. www.ceostrategist.com


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