Born vs. Made

Another thought from reading Peopleware: As a manager, how much effect do you have on people?

Here's a quote from the book:

"A recurrent theme through all the novels is Hornblower's gloomy presentiment that achievers are born, not made... In our egalitarian times, it's almost unthinkable to write someone off as intrinsically incompetent. There is supposed to be inherent worth in every human being..."

A good leader can take people and point them in the same direction. But fundamentally, the people have to want to point in the same direction and, once pointed, they have to move.

So are good employees born or made?

For that matter, are good leaders born or made?

Comments (4)
  1. Hank Lynch says:

    I think people are for the most part lazy.  If a decision needs to be made, it’s far easier to allow someone else make the decision and follow, rather than to put forth the effort to make the decision, lead, and accept the possible consequences that go along with leadership.

    Some people have keyed into this very early on, could be that they are born with it, but I do believe that this lazy tendency of the masses can also be exposed to someone, who with coaching, can learn to use it to get things done.

  2. johnmont says:

    I’m not sure I agree that people mostly are lazy, despite what I grumble about. I think most people have an issue overcoming inertia at least some of the time. And I think that most people feel more comfortable when they believe what they’re doing is "right." And I definitely believe that truly leading and taking responsibility for leadership can be draining.

  3. Hank Lynch says:

    OK, maybe "lazy" was a bit harsh, but it is far easier to be a passenger than a driver, I think that’s where I was trying to go with that. And on that same analogy, yes, you can teach people to drive.  Some just drive better than others, and I think that’s the part that just can’t be taught.

  4. johnmont says:

    There’s a saying about music — it’s 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Most musicians (professional and amateur) lack the 10%, so no matter how hard they work at the 90% they’ll never be great.

    Or put another way, there just aren’t that many Michael Jordans in the world at any given moment.

    I yet other words, I agree.

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