Born a Leader or Acting?

I joined a specialist recruitment firm in 1979. A couple of years later in 1981,  I secured the mission to launch the firm’s recruitment services in The Netherlands;  continuing my career in the technology/software solutions  ‎sector. I have always favored recruiting for American companies.

Whether for existing companies or to hire enterprise professionals or a great thrill; American start-ups in a number of European countries.  Also Oracle’s first office in The Netherlands! Other dynamic examples of American corporate entrepreneurial driven attitude; can-do culture. Just loved it. And I am still taken aback by the tangible positivity of my American friends.

The above is an introduction to the environment, culture, type of people, personalities, motivation, postures when winning projects or interviewing potential candidates; sales, country management for start-ups or existing technology and services companies.


Every person is unique. A line of Forces personnel may look exactly the same in their uniforms; united in defending their country; each individual unique, but united in purpose.

Whether facial, posture, reactions to a situation, ambition, preference for a rôle confined to an office, or the absolute need to ‘get out there’ to engage with people. ‎We’re all unique.

When talking with individuals, there is a sense that some are ‘born leaders’. But what is a ‘born leader’?

This particular topic emerges fairly often on Linkedin and Bizcatalyst 360°.

When I state ‘leader’; not an individual who has been leading a team, department, company, national or international, but a potential leader.  A ‘born’ leader. Some are fortunate in being brought up in an ‘everything is possible’ parental culture. ‘Glass ceiling?’ ‘What on earth is a glass ceiling?’ no limits, self-belief.

Perhaps at school, college, or university. A ‎sports enthusiast whose energy, enthusiasm, and natural talent for creating team spirit (an essential part of leadership) as well as being a proactive, inclusive team member provides the attraction for being an individual who is worthy of being ‘followed’.

Team sports certainly can provide a platform for such recognition, but as kids, the idea of seeking a leader by a teacher would not (in those days anyway)  be realized‎. Perhaps at prep school.

I was always totally and utterly useless at team sports! As for Rugby; well not for me! I used to play golf (still have the golf clubs)‎ but on my own; for relaxation; no communication. Therapeutic. And a beer at the local in afterwards chatting to the locals. But competitive sports? Never for me.

Does the individual ‘feel’ as though there is either a natural leadership element, or has it been recognized by teachers, lecturers, or other people involved in providing an optimistic view on future career possibilities? Did they convey the ‘instinctive’ feeling that leadership could be a natural

When do potential leadership qualities emerge? Childhood, Perhaps an 18 to 20-year-old or even younger. How can they be identified?  What makes them stand out?  Would they want to lead; gaining a following?‎ And leadership demands responsibilities and a natural talent for engaging WITH and empathizing WITH and talking WITH people. Energizing the air with unlimited enthusiasm, but realistic goals.

During school age, bullies are not potential leaders! ‎ They get things done by applying fear techniques. Three lines on bully management is enough.

When a person walks into a meeting and if a natural leader, it will be as though the individual has walked onto a stage; the audience metaphorically applauding even before a word has been said.

Some leaders really do project an almost physical presence, electrifying the arena.

This is probably not something that is ‘trained’ but an enhanced element of the unique personality that comes to life when making presentations or speeches.

Perhaps those who have become managers because of performance; brilliant sales results, may not be happy with leading; managing people, because the key example would be their example of how to secure business.

  • So is it an act in some cases? Is it possible to identify if an act (unless the person is already known)? Is an Oscar appropriate?‎
  • There is certainly a ‘chemical element’ an equivalent of endorphins generated by a smile and accompanying positivity.‎ But what is received by the ‘audience’?
  • Do they see an actor? Was a script memorized? Is it natural? If it is projected as ‘natural’ it will be received as such.

Again, everyone is unique, but some more unique than others!

I would welcome comments on this topic.


Simon Lever
Simon Lever
Prior to his retirement, Simon engaged in software and services sector search and recruitment for American companies around Europe. He has retained the enjoyment of engaging with people from other countries and cultures. His energies are now directed towards voluntary community activities, journaling, and exhibition stewardship. He is a Featured Contributor for BizCatalyst 360°. As an Exhibition Steward, at the 1000-year-old Winchester Cathedral, he is responsible for guiding visitors from the world over, around the award-winning 'Kings and Scribes Exhibition', which includes the 900-year-old Winchester Bible. The exhibition introduces visitors to Winchester's historical significance as a former capital of England. Simon's journaling activities are published on BizCatalyst 360° and accompanying posts on LinkedIn, He acknowledges the inspiration afforded him by Carol Campos of Massachusetts: Life Strategist, Writer, and Intuitive Business Leader who introduced him to writing with feeling; from the heart. Simon's forté is creative writing; the accent on the natural environment, transforming feelings, emotions, sights, sounds, and scents of Mother Nature's landscape; hills and rivers and woodland into words, transporting the reader to the locations. Essays include accounts of his life in former days. Instinctively writing in such a spontaneous manner, descriptions become life-like. His often emotionally charged writing, whether describing a surreal 'Son et Lumière' at the Grand Place in Brussels to experiences acquired during European business travel. Journaling and Exhibition Steward activities are his key sources of inspiration and creativity. Kindness is ever more important, where he is a promoter of Shelly Elsliger PPCC's 'Decide to be Kind' Campaign. Simon champions Positivity, Empathy, and Kindness and has been described as a 'Beacon of Positivity'.

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  1. Dear Aldo,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to the ‘leadership’ essay witch is greatly appreciated. There are so many facets that combine to ‘create’ a leader as you most eloquently described.

    The essay was written on the basis that in no way am I a leader/manager of people/ teams. I can train, advise on skills required but as to leadership. Not me! When in Pan/European recruitment, Was responsible (by choice) for setting up computer recruitment firms. One of my joys was how to engage with potential clients around Europe, and win the assignments. And deliver. In other words, the front line. I advised individuals what was required or expected when meeting a potential client; the key point being to understand the company. One question that always came up was what I knew of their company. I had already researched their organization and delivered a non scripted account. One thing I did notice and championed without prejudice was to treat everyone, male, female origin etc the same, and why not! I love engaging with different nationalities and cultures. Real leadership potential can be recognized in a playground. But tge difference with kids is bullying or inspiration and being a magnet for discussion. As stated, upbringing plays a critical rôle as years’ ago the attitude was based on men going out to work an women stay in the kitchen. Thus humans potentially missed out on 50% of creative potential. I have noticed that for example Indian folk are highly enterprising and bring their kids up to be the same. I have memories of boarding school where cricket was much loved and there were three brothers; I think from Pakistan; the brothers Kahn. Goodness me were they fantastic. Both boarding schools ( and this was in the 1950s) quite rightly treated everyone the same regardless of religion, background, color whatever. My Mom was Christian an my Dad Jewish. I had to do Hebrew correspondence lessons and sat in the headmaster’s study with his daughter (also about ten years’ old.) Her Dad, the Headmaster, was a Church if England vicar walked in his office and told me not to cheat as he could read Hebrew! I experienced anti-semitism later after leaving school. I am now a voluntary steward at the 1000 year old Winchester Cathedral; and a steward/guide at The Kings and Scribes Exhibition. They know my background and I was more than welcomed. I have a mixed family! My dear cousin is a nun; the chief of the Holy Cross in Canada and my cousin in Australia has a son who is a rabbi. I engage with everyone regardless of faith; Christian, Muslim and tiger faiths. You addressed the ‘faith background issues’ in a gentle manner, and you sparked me off on the subject! I also have family in Israel. The early family escaped the Nazis. I have seen numbers tattooed on wrists. We need harmony and leadership in our world and a platform that facilitated that is Bizcatalyst360 and also LinkedIn. We are all friends and we all look out for each other. Thank you again. My sincere regards, Simon – Winchester

  2. The speech is very long, but synthesizing we can say that the concept of leadership is not tied exclusively to the role of the person, but also to being, to one’s personality, to what one does and how one does it. Knowing what leadership is and exercising it are two very different things. It is the personal qualities that give strength and vigor to a person’s actions, qualities such as charisma, courage, passion, responsibility, self-discipline.
    Among the personal qualities of the leader there must also appear geographical mobility, mental flexibility, a predisposition to accept the new technologies to company services and the ability to create empathy among individuals.
    To achieve a goal, it is not enough to have certain skills and competences. It is necessary to learn to assume the right attitude which, together with one’s own talents, allows one to arrive where one has set oneself to arrive.
    Leader is above all an inner condition, that attitude which allows one to create a constructive environment around oneself, instilling confidence and enthusiasm and laying the foundations for a constructive and productive situation. Indeed, leadership cannot be considered as a prize to be enjoyed passively. On the contrary, the leader, precisely by virtue of the position acquired, should demonstrate daily the reasons why he came to occupy this position, considering it as a springboard to aim higher and higher. The leader must never aim to a mere achievement of personal goals, but rather the authentic will to create something constructive in a wider social sphere.