Effective leadership: Nature or nurture?

3 minute read •

March 12, 2019


In a global climate of entrepreneurship where businesses are popping up everywhere, the path to a leadership role is becoming much less rigid, opening the gates to new types of leaders from diverse backgrounds.

With such changes sweeping business communities everywhere, we’ve seen the Western world do what it always does and capitalise. The leadership industry now exceeds $14 billion USD annually and is entirely dedicated to offering the skills and qualifications needed to be a leader, quickly. There’s been much debate on the validity of many of the courses, training, boot camps and mentoring that are on offer, with some believing people are born leaders not taught how to be one.

Here’s the argument for both:

Born a Leader

In 2012 a study published in The Leadership Quarterly claimed if your parents were leaders in their career you are 24% likely to inherit these traits, setting you in good stead to be a leader yourself. Interestingly enough many studies have shown that having a high IQ can often hinder your abilities to lead. A study by the University of Lausanne in Switzerland interviewed over 370 business leaders found that leaders whose IQs were above 120 scored lower for transformational and instrumental leadership than less smart participants.

The Centre for Creative Leadership takes a different approach which focuses on a person’s natural characteristics. They have found five key personality traits that highly successful leaders share. Firstly, moral courage which gains respect from your team. A caring nature that translates in the workplace to a sincere interest in the needs and wants of others. Ongoing optimism and the ability to find silver linings in tough situations. Self-control which translates to understanding your boundaries and what you are willing to sacrifice to lead. And lastly, the ability to communicate with all types of people and adapt your interpersonal skills to different situations.


If we take the five personality traits from above it can be argued that all of these can be learned and improved over time. Whilst you may need to have the initial spark, traits such as interpersonal communication can be worked on in a systemised way that will lead to you communicating better with others. Those who believe leadership can be taught focus on the need to continually upskill yourself to be able to lead effectively. This can involve such a vast array of activities including books, management courses, mentors, leadership retreats, e-learning and conferences. With this, an individual requires the framework, knowledge and network they need to successfully manage people and handle strategic decision-making. A final argument for learning how to be a leader is to get an official stamp of approval. A formal qualification can give others around you faith and reassurance that you have the skills to lead.

We’re not here to give our opinion, just the facts. But we will, the singular most important trait of a really good leader is integrity.



Rachel Linacre

Rachel is Hassl's head of operations. She loves getting shit done and dogs.

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