Leadership is defined as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.”
There are “leaders” who have social influence by the nature of their political power, their physical power, their monetary power, their title or their heritage. They can threaten, cajole and manipulate.
Of course the leaders we’re interested in creating, and following, are those who “naturally” influence and inspire others. Think of the individual in your company who is not a manager or supervisor, and yet people gravitate towards him/her and seek out their opinion or guidance.
A lot of leadership development programs focus on training individuals’ leadership skills.
Choose People’s list of leadership skills includes:
Ownership Thinking/Systems and Implications Thinking
Knowledge of the Numbers
Strategic and Innovative Problem Solving
Ability to Inspire, Influence and Motivate Others
Creation of a Culture of Accountability
Ability to have Kind, Candid and Constructive Conversations
Ability to Nurture/Mentor/Teach
Foster Team Collaboration and Cooperation
Manage the Urgent to Accomplish the Strategic
Support Others in Being Their Best Selves
Communication and Integration of the Mission, Vision and Values
Can these be taught? Yes. Can these be learned? Usually.
However skills alone don’t make a leader. You could teach someone ALL of these skills – they could even master them, and yet they still wouldn’t BE a leader. They could “do” leadership, but they wouldn’t necessarily be an influencer. (Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but isn’t a duck.)
A leader is trusted and respected, both for what they do and for who they are – for their competency and their character.
Choose People’s list of character traits of a leader includes:
Courage, Conviction and Confidence
Vulnerability and Grace
Whole Integrity and Authenticity
Charisma and Humility
Can these be taught? Yes. Can they be learned? Sometimes.
Recently a client asked me, “What if someone really just doesn’t have what it takes to be a leader?”
And my response was, “Don’t try to make them something they’re not.”
Keep in mind, many employees choose to be a leader in other areas of their lives and simply don’t desire to be a leader at work.
Not everyone wants to be a leader at work. Thank goodness.
Is there a way to know before you invest in leadership development if an individual can learn the character traits and the skills? There are several filters and key questions that can certainly help identify if someone is NOT a good candidate. However until you dig in with your real potential leaders, it’s hard to know who will be your “graduates.” Note: Anyone who tells you they can “make” one of your employees into a leader – run like the wind.