Leadership & People
Research insight
March 18, 2021

Does leadership learn? Study shows that 52% of managers consider “being born with a leader profile”

Is leadership something you can learn or is it an inherent characteristic of only part of the professionals? The Leadership Observatory [Observatório Liderança] Report 2020 shows that there are those who believe in the vocation to command the destinies of organizations: after interviewing 25 renowned leaders working in Portugal, Nova SBE, in partnership with the Haddad Foundation, found that 52% considered “to have been born with leader profile ”.

The conclusion is part of a report under the motto “Paradoxical management challenges”, where it is also clear that, on the other hand, only 24% consider that leadership skills cannot be learned.

And what are the qualities of a leader? Asked about the reasons behind their success, the interviewees point to values such as resilience, persistence, curiosity, and hard work. In addition, 96% guarantee that they continue to invest in their education.

As for what they look for in the talents that accompany them, the leaders interviewed reveal that they look for characteristics such as adaptability, ethics, responsibility, curiosity, ability to work in teams and strategic vision. These are the factors to take into account when recruiting professionals for leadership positions.

Challenges lurking

In general, leaders view change positively and productively, avoiding seeing it as a threat. According to the Leadership Observatory Report 2020, “the growing need that leaders feel about integrating and combining the success of their business with the progress of society became evident in the interviews: 96% show concern about climate change caused by human action and 72 % believe they already promote great diversity in their teams.

As far as digital is concerned, there are other challenges to be taken into account, namely the slowness of processes or the tensions felt in the transformation of analog to digital processes. However, 92% of leaders consider themselves to be digitally capable and up-to-date on technological tools for their work needs.

Regarding a possible rise of the machines, 84% say they are confident that technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation "will above all facilitate tasks and not replace them".

Another challenge that hangs over all leaders is related to the balance between personal and professional life, with 84% of the leaders interviewed believing they have found a good balance. "Knowing how to delegate is one of the mechanisms mentioned", the same report indicates, although 48% admit that their days never go as planned.

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