Is Leadership something that can be learned? Or are people born leaders?
Your answer probably depends on your definition of leadership. If you believe that you can gain knowledge related to leadership by listening to the various leadership gurus, reading books on leadership and watching/emulating Patton Jack Welch, then you probably believe that leadership can be learned. Or at the very least, those resources can take the leadership abilities you have and improve them within a certain range based on your genetic limitations.
I tend to agree that everyone can learn how to be a better leader, although I'm not sure if what we're talking about in most situations is really leadership. It feels more like upper-end how to "manage" to me, which is valuable, but seems to fall short of the mark. Why do I feel like that? Probably because when you see someone operating as a true leader, we often sit back and say, "WOW". I'm not talking about Bob's charisma in the all-employee meeting. I'm talking about a lifestyle that shouts out "Leader!", and it's something you can't fake or learn from a book.
"Magic's congeniality was a gift and a blessing to a school that was struggling to maintain order in the wake of the redistricting. There were incidents throughout Johnson's tenure at Everett between white and black students, yet the gifted young ballplayer defused much of the tension by coaxing his friends into becoming like him -- colorblind.
He showed up at parties held by his white teammates, even though he and his friends were often the only blacks in attendance. He convinced his white friends to listen to his soul music and coaxed the principal into setting aside a room to dance during free study periods. He organized a protest when no African American cheerleaders were picked for the school's squad, even though their talents were undeniable.
"For all his basketball skills, the biggest contribution Earvin made to Everett was race relations," said Fox. "He helped us bridge two very different cultures. He ran with the white kids, but never turned his back on the black kids. He broke down so many barriers. He was so popular the students figured 'Hey, if Earvin is hanging out with these guys, it must be okay.'"
It was an Everett tradition that after the first practice of the season, the players ran around the basketball court until the last teammate was standing. Two years in a row, that person was Earvin Johnson. The summer before his senior season, Johnson's teammates Randy Shumway informed Fox that he was out to beat Magic. The two ran around the court for more than a half-hour as their teammates dropped by the wayside. After 45 minutes, both players were panting, clearly exhausted, yet neither was willing to quit. Fox was contemplating how he should break the stalemate when he noticed Johnson whispering in Shumway's ear. The two did one more lap together before Magic announced, "That's it, Coach. We're calling it a draw."
"Earvin could have outlasted him," said Fox, "but he knew it would be better for team morale if he didn't."
Can what Magic displayed way back in the day be learned? I think not. It's in his DNA. No book can teach you that...