Are leaders made, or born?
The answer is: Yes.
Truthfully, some people are born to lead. They are seemingly gifted with all the charisma, comeliness, talent, wisdom one can possible have – everything they need to inspire others to follow them to the ends of the earth. Right out of the box.
And – some leaders are definitely made, driven into leadership through necessity, experience, and sheer force of will.
We don’t choose the forge that tempers our fates. If that were so, I daresay that most of us would have chosen another path, other than the one that ultimately sets us on our life’s journey.
But that’s not to imply that all leadership development is by chance, entirely by accident.
Great organizations enable, and encourage, great leaders to develop. And they do so with purpose. By design.
So – How does one go about building a healthy environment for leadership development?
It starts by hiring the right people. And by the right people, I don’t simply mean only people that could lead teams tomorrow. Hiring the right people includes perceiving individuals, who seem to lack overtly obvious leadership traits, but are “diamonds in the rough.” We are talking about “leadership development”, after all.
You also need demographically and experientially diverse teams to inculcate leadership skills; people that know the ropes – inside and out – of your organization, and are unselfishly willing to mentor their charges. Diversity of opinion, experience and background brings many points of view to the table, and makes for more reflective, considerate, and thoughtful decision makers.
And – you need to dole out assignments that offer adversity, conflict, and challenge – with the requisite authority to succeed in the face of these headwinds. Encourage – not punish – experimentation and failure. Great leaders need to be able improvise, and they need a training ground for building their confidence and a sound sense of their true capabilities.
Finally, you need open and honest communication and feedback – sometimes brutally honest and critical, sometimes uplifting – but always conducted constructively, letting your future leader know where they are in the process; and, what they have to do to move forward.
What are your thoughts on building great leaders? Let us know.
Go, and be you.