Leadership, innate or acquired?

“Would leadership be innate or acquired? Many of us wonder about this question. Above all, it is the very definition of leadership that divides. Is it a professional skill or a quality? Especially today, French and International companies are increasingly recruiting on soft skills, in other words, human qualities, such as empathy. This process tends to change what is expected of a leader. But are we all equal when it comes to the ability to develop leadership qualities or not? Or, is it only a professional skill, acquired by those who occupy a high professional hierarchical position? Otherwise, is there a cause and effect link between being a leader and being an executive manager? At ZEPRESENTERS, we approach leadership from the angle of public speaking with a conviction: to be a good leader is above all to be a good speaker. And, it is within this framework that we have defined a Leadership model around 3 axes: storytelling, interpersonal relationships, managing emotions. So, across the spectrum of our leadership model, is leadership innate or acquired?”


During your last annual review interview, it is safe to bet that your “leadership” potential was one of the evaluation criteria and was discussed at length by your boss? And yes, today leadership is an increasingly expected skill, at any hierarchical level, whether one is a manager or an employee. But contrary to popular belief, “leader” is not synonymous with “manager.” A leader is someone who will come up with ideas and know-how to keep those who listen to them eager to implement them. And it is precisely this skill that has become essential at all levels of the company. On the other hand, a question remains: being a leader, is it innate or acquired? During my annual interview, am I assessed on something I have in me by nature or on a skill that I can acquire through work? Am I a born leader or do I become a leader? This Thursday, we will try to answer this question.

A good speaker is a good leader

At ZEPRESENTERS, we don’t approach Leadership from a managerial angle but through public speaking, with a conviction: the skills expected of a good leader are the same as those of a good speaker. The role of a good leader is to be clear on subjects, to inspire those who listen to him and to give meaning to the direction to follow. The same goes for a good speaker, whose raison d’être is to take care of his audience. A good speaker is not there to show that he knows things that others don’t know, but to make ideas clear. A good speaker inspires and gives meaning to optimize the trace he will leave behind with his audience, and generate approval. If you need more evidence, you can do a simple exercise: on LinkedIn, choose any article you want on the subject of leadership and replace “leader” with “good speaker.” You’ll find that the article and the advice provided is just as equally valid.

A leadership model in 3 axes

A good speech reveals your leadership qualities by changing the way others view you, and by developing your power of influence. And it is within this leadership framework that we intervene with a model resulting from the HUBSTORY® method founded on 3 axes:

-The mastery of storytelling, because the characteristic of a leader is to be the bearer of an idea and to know how to talk about it through narration.

 -The mastery of relationships, because a leader doesn’t defend his interests but those of his team.

-The mastery of one’s emotions, because a leader must be able to put his sincerity and the intentions that motivate him at the service of his ideas.

Each one of these axes belongs to both the realm of the innate and the acquired, with natural qualities for some, but the possibility of working on and improving on these qualities for all. Here are some ways to build on your leadership qualities and change your life:

Master narration

We all have “born storytellers” in our midst, who like to tell stories and they’re good at it. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to progress. On the contrary! The HUBSTORY® method has developed Storytelling and Pitch techniques that allow you to get your audience on board in all circumstances, whether you are on stage to present a strategic project or simply at the coffee machine to talk about your weekend adventures.

Master relationships

You may be among those who are immediately at ease interacting with others, making people laugh, getting attention… Or, you just don’t seem to have this talent. Extraversion is often associated with the natural ability to be stimulated by social relationships and the ability to be a good leader and a good speaker. But that’s a shortcut! Because effective speaking cannot be improvised and requires strategic work beforehand. It involves defining what you are going to say, why and how you’re going to say it, what you want to change in your audience, etc. However, introverts, more stimulated by their solitude, are typically better equipped to submit to this advanced work of preparation, unlike extroverts. The moral of the story: Being an extrovert by nature will not guarantee your leadership qualities. However, adequate preparation can get you there.

Master emotions

Here again, we’re not equal in how we feel and interpret our emotions. In a stressful situation, one individual will completely lose his means, while another will approach the situation with much more serenity and access to the entire capacity of the brain. It may seem unfair, but it is not inevitable. Here again, work largely contributes to our success. Cognitive and behavioral therapies in particular share models of stress management that are extremely effective and can help you regain control. One of the keys to success lies above all in awareness and action. Accepting that you can act on what you feel means creating in your mind the idea that you deserve it, and creating the conditions in order to progress.