Are leaders born or built?

Working in a destination such as the island of Lanai — population 3,000, give or take — involves thinking creatively about talent development and where our next set of leaders comes from.

One of the constants we hear at our Four Seasons Resorts on Lanai is how genuine and sincere our aloha spirit is, something guests truly cherish. So how does that spirit of hospitality translate into leadership? When we think about leaders, how does nature versus nurture come into play?

Attracting talent to a certain locale is a challenge that is not unique to islands, although it’s certainly one we see firsthand, so we need to look for solutions to grow. Our team decided that nurture is a strong element in building leaders and set off to develop programming that could take our on-island talent and, over the long term, create tomorrow’s leaders.

L.A.M.P. (Lanai Assistant Manager Program) strives to provide a practical, hands-on training program to individuals working with us within operations so in 18 months to two years they will be ready to assume a management role. We wanted to consider what went into great leaders — knowledge, of course, but what are other qualities that can be brought forth? Everyone probably has a few on their own hit lists, so our team tried to collectively identify our top contenders — ability to work across departments to get things accomplished, confidence to know when to talk but also when to listen, how to incorporate failures into the learning curve and recover from poor decisions, how to embrace the organizational culture yet seek to actively improve and innovate and how to engender trust and respect from others.

A Hawaiian proverb is ‘A’ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka halau ho’okahi — all knowledge is not taught in one school. Thoughtful nurturing along with identifying potential is a long-term investment that pays its way forward.

What do you think — are leaders born or built?