You either have it, or you don’t.

Are true leaders born or made? When it comes to effectively leading, motivating and administrating staff, truly great leaders “come from the factory” as natural leaders.

Many disagree with this conclusion. Numerous leadership “gurus,” writers, speakers, teachers and trainers contend that leadership is a skill that anyone can master. I find their position curious.

• These leadership “experts” have a vested interest. They’re selling leadership training, consulting, books, videos and speaking gigs. The marketability of their wares increases if they espouse that everybody can become a leader.

• I know a number of these leadership experts. Some say they’ve read every leadership book. Some write on the subject of leadership. However, many of these experts have had very little actual experience leading people in day-to-day endeavors. And some have a dreadful record of actually leading staff in real organizations.

So, how did I arrive at the “leadership gene” theory? I’ve read the books and listened to the experts. But my most reliable findings have come from 35 years of experience and observation in the real world of church, business, and non-profit organizations. Here’s what I’ve found:

• Leadership training and skill-building can help a born leader rise in excellence. But training and personal ambition cannot transform an unnatural leader into an excellent leader of people.

• God instills within his people different gifts, including the gift of leadership. See Romans 12:8: “If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.” God doesn’t give the leadership gift to everyone. Just to some.

What shall we do with this approach to leadership? All organizations, especially churches, need great leaders.

Ask yourself: Are you a natural leader? Usually, other people spot and eagerly follow born leaders—at a young age. Did others recruit you to be their leader on the playground, in the neighborhood, in scouts, in school, and other childhood activities? If so, you may be a born leader.

If you are a born leader, sharpen your skills, step up and “take the responsibility seriously.”

If you’re not a born leader, rejoice in your own given gifts. And help find—and support—others who are born leaders.

Get out of the way of God’s truly gifted leaders. Let them lead.

Leading staff is not the only way to lead. You may be a thought leader, which you may pursue through conversation, writing, speaking, teaching and role-modeling. You may positively persuade without leading a staff.

But don’t assume that thought leaders automatically qualify as leaders of people. This myth leads to dysfunctional, poorly led churches. It happens all too often.

Have you seen it too?