Management Magazine

Leaders: Born or made

Today’s successful leaders flourish due to years of training and nurturing put forth by teachers and parents


When families fail, when communities fight, when companies collapse, when countries suffer, everyone points a finger to the leader. It is indeed true as Arnold H. Glasow aptly put it, that; “a good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, and a little less than his share of the credit.” Greatness and excellence in leadership calls for intense capacity building from a tender age.

The first third of a modern human’s lifetime, is spent in school, and this is the crucible through which leaders must be moulded. Certainly, today’s successful leaders flourish due to years of training and nurturing put forth by teachers and parents.

Leadership programs

Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Barrack Obama, the list goes on, are some of the great and powerful leaders that studied at Harvard University. The institution – which offers more than five different leadership programs – has been churning out powerful leaders over the decades.  New York’s Columbia University also cultivates a diverse set of leaders with notable alumni including President Barack Obama and Amelia Earhart. Columbia has 82 Nobel Laureates and leadership programs. One program encourages students to apply to companies that offer student leadership rotational programs. This gives students a feel on how different departments operate within an organisation, opportunities that create well-rounded leaders across transportation, engineering, technology, finance, government, healthcare, marketing, retail and sports.

Best-performing country

Leadership is a critical aspect in all social endeavours, and several countries have excelled in creating leaders from students. The Human Capital Report 2017, ranked Norway as the best-performing country in the world when it comes to training and educating its population. As a result, the country performs well on all the sub-indexes, ranking first in the world for the availability of skilled employees. It also does well on the Deployment pillar (the active participation of the population in the country’s workforce), thanks to its low unemployment rate. Finland is in second place followed by Switzerland. Denmark and Sweden are in fifth and eighth place respectively.

While Kenya doesn’t rank highly, the country’s new curriculum and the design of its education system aims at promoting the creation of leaders. Right from the basic to higher education levels, most institutions have student bodies where leadership is nurtured. Most leaders in Kenya, especially in the political and corporate scene, started their journey back as students, sports or club leaders especially in university.

Firm foundation

Leaders who command massive followers have walked a journey that spans several years. Through leadership positions in schools, students have access to decision-making roles and this provides an early stab at leadership.

Nurturing students’ leadership development directly and indirectly helps communities, societies, families, industries, countries and the world that these future adults will inhabit. Student leadership has to be nurtured and this should be the goal of any progressive education system. If a curriculum is not designed with this in mind and at the core, then it does not matter how technically gifted the people the system churns out are, because without leadership, they will fail.

Muriithi Ndegwa, OGW, HSC, FKIM – KIM Executive Director/CEO. Email:

Twitter: @MuriithiNdegwa

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