Many think that some people come into this world with a natural capacity to lead. You either have it or you don’t, and if you don’t there is nothing you can do about it. If great sales leaders are only born, do the rest of us have a shot?

My research on the topic shows that some people indeed have an innate ability to lead others, as well as a tendency to get even better as they mature. I have a son like that. When he was young, a throng of kids followed his lead around the neighborhood. Call it charisma or whatever, he had something special from birth. These members of our species are rare, however. Research suggests that at most, 10% to 15% of all humans have such inborn leadership qualities.

On the other end of the bell curve are those poor souls who have no leadership potential. No matter how hard they try, somewhere between 10% and 15% simply don’t have the wiring for leadership.

That leaves 70% to 80% of us (myself included) who don’t live in either the “born” or “no-potential” categories. Can we make great sales leaders out of these folks?

Here’s my position: People who start out with a moderate amount of raw capacity for leadership can actually become very good or even great leaders. I know for a fact that leaders can be developed. But, like the development of any other personal quality, it takes training on the right skills, followed by measurement and reinforcement so that the skills get used and mature into habits.

No trust? No leadership.

What are the “right skills”? I want to go into detail about that in some upcoming editions of eCoach. First, though, let me say this, because it bears directly on the born-vs.-made question: I believe that the number-one leadership attribute is trust. If you do things that cause your team to distrust you, nobody is going to follow your lead, and sales productivity will be compromised.

I carry a short list in my planning diary of what it takes to be a trusted leader. I carry the list around because I consider these simple principles so important…

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).