Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Are you born to be a leader or can you learn to be a leader?

Add to delicious   delicious  

It depends on your definition of leadership.

In my experience with building leadership capacity for an organization and coach C-level executives, I would highly suggest you first distinguish between what is Leadership and what is Management for your organization – at the top.

Once you have this definition then look for following traits to build via experiential learning(you can't teach leadership in classroom alone).

One of the best teachers of this subject is my friend Mel Toomey of Generative Leadership Group( He has taught me very important lessons about the topic of leadership, and I regard him as one of the best in the world. He says that most leadership education in Corporate America is Management Training. Leadership is a form of art. Management is a form of science. You cannot teach leadership in a scientific manner. You can create leadership literacy in class – but that is all.

I asked Mel, what is the one most important thing to teach (or learn) for different levels of leaders in a typical organization. Here is what he said:

1) New leaders: learn to TRUST THEMSELVES - a leader's capacity for trusting others is bounded by their trust for themselves.

2) Experienced leaders: learn to PREPARE TO MAKE MISTAKES... One cannot lead unless they are willing to be wrong... the handmaiden of original thinking are mistakes.

3) For senior leaders: learn that they WILL NEVER HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION TO MAKE THE DECISIONS THEIR JOB CALLS FOR... By definition, the decisions leaders make involve creating... bringing new things into existence, dealing with matters that are unique. While history will inform a leader, a leader’s decisions involve maters for which they must write the history.

4) Finally for the top level executives: they need to learn to BE A "LEADER EDUCATOR"... the source of growth and innovation in your organization will come from those you educate, develop and mentor as leaders. Be "the coach" and clear the field of play for your "experienced leaders."

If you look at the list above, the question you asked no longer matters. The answer becomes - all human beings have the capacity to be a leader. The difference is, what in the ‘context of leadership’, the ‘play arena for leadership’ are you talking about and what needs to be developed between where they are now and what level of leadership they need to practice. As a side note, most organizational cultures are not tolerant enough for the craft of leadership to be learned fast and safely – en entirely different issue, but an important one.

It is very unfortunate that, many “Leadership Programs” are just that – one brush fits all. Total waste of time and money – most of this stuff does not work.



You can download FREE articles at

Tags: , ,


There are no comments on this article.
Comments have been closed for this article.