THE “BORN LEADER” MYTH
Are you a leader? Are you one of the people with the power to make things happen?
It’s true that some people have a seemingly natural charisma that makes them very persuasive. While the power to motivate and persuade is a tremendous asset to those who would lead, it isn’t the sum total of leadership.
Others grow up as leaders as a matter of expectation. Members of royal families or well-recognized and influential families often become leaders. That’s not really evidence of genetic tendency toward leadership, though. It’s more a matter of experience, expectation and socialization.
Some learn the ways of power. Their straight teeth, great hair and enviable tans, combined with a few basic skills and a management position allow them to believe that they’re natural born leaders.
In reality, they’re just folks with good stylists, time to make weekly tanning bed appointments and a little luck. They’re not changing the world for the better and they certainly didn’t get their jobs based on an inborn ability to inspire, motivate and create.
In reality, no one is a born leader. Those who lead have certain skills and they have an understanding of what it means to be a leader. While learning those things may come easier to some than others, anyone can become a leader.
If you want to lead-if you need to lead-you can learn how to do it. Let’s examine why that’s the case.
FUNDAMENTALS OF LEADERSHIP: We can outline the leadership process, breaking it down into a few simple steps:
==> something needs to be done.
==> no one person can do the task alone.
==> a leader takes responsibility for accomplishing the task.
==> others are interested in helping to complete the necessary task.
==> the leader harnesses the combined efforts of all interested parties to produce success.
It looks deceptively simple when you look at leadership that way, but there are hidden factors at play. One of them is attitude. In fact, the right attitude is an indispensable element of successful leadership.
As you can undoubtedly guess, leaders have a pronounced tendency to react positively to new experiences. They’re energized by expanding their personal horizons and love the challenges that come with new and changing situations.
While everyone experiences situations they don’t enjoy, leaders usually don’t experience immediate negative reactions. Their first instinct is to understand the circumstances so that they can generate a fair impression. That’s true even in the worst of situations.
Leaders will focus first on understanding in an effort to find ways to move away from the negative. They prioritize generating positive change over feeling negative about a given set of circumstances.
One’s attitude is a part of the leadership equation. The ability to interact successfully with people is another. You can’t be a leader without people skills. The very idea of leadership rests on connecting with others and harnessing their abilities and interests to create positive change.
Leaders learn how to effectively coexist and to interact with others in pursuit of common goals. That requires communication, motivation and the ability to engage in coaching.
The importance of communication is obvious. Absent the ability to effectively communicate with one another, no group could ever accomplish anything. It’s a prerequisite to leadership. Reaching a common goal requires shared intent, an understood common meaning and coordination.
Motivation is also important. The great leaders have a way of bringing others into the fold and encouraging them to dedicate their skills, energy and time to a larger cause. Those who lack persuasive talents may have tremendous ideas, but often find that those ideas alone are inadequate to spur progress. Motivation occurs on another level, too. The leader must be personally motivated to lead. Those who lack an interest rarely become recognized leaders.
The best leaders are coaches, too. They’re willing and able to help others to achieve more. Instead of being focused exclusively on themselves, they spend time looking out towards (and for) others. This dedication to others empowers other group members, bringing them that much closer to reaching their goals.
LEARNING TO BECOME A LEADER:
Now that we’ve examined what it takes to be a successful leader, we need to address the ability to develop those skills in order to dismiss the idea of a “born leader” as mythology. Fortunately, that’s relatively easy to do.
It is possible to change our outlooks and attitudes. While being a more positive and considerate thinker may require the development of new habits (and the shedding of old ones), it’s something that everyone can do. You can change your perspective and there are countless examples of people who’ve mastered the power of positive thinking to evidence that.
Communication skills aren’t inborn either. With the right coaching and commitment, virtually anyone can develop those skills. History includes the stories of countless leaders who didn’t have a “natural” gift for wooing others. From Abraham Lincoln’s ability to overcome a scratchy voice and shyness to the groundbreaking scientist Stephen Hawkin’s conquering of a disabling physical condition, we have many examples that prove those who want to lead can learn a way to connect with others.
If you feel compelled toward leadership, you can reach your goal. Leaders are made; they’re often self-made. They’re not born into greatness; their greatness stems from a commitment to a greater purpose and a willingness to find a way to positive on positive influence.
The best leaders learn to lead from within. What kind of leader do you want to be?