In my recent conversations with executives, there has been a consistent theme in regards to leadership that I feel deserves our attention.
The idea: Leaders are born, not made.
Now, I am not a doctor, but I have never heard of anyone being born with a “leadership” gene. The way I see it, we are shaped by the experiences in our lives. Are some people exposed to certain leadership qualities because of their upbringing? Of course. But we are still formed by our experiences.
Let’s go with my theory for a second.
We all are all born with unique qualities based on genetics (i.e. IQ, athletic ability, body type, etc.). We have plenty of examples to prove that some of us are more fortunate (or to quote a term from my childhood: “gifted”) than others. These factors, however, do not determine the outcome of our story.
Though I was never able to achieve the greatness of a Hall of Fame quarterback, I was able to achieve my dream of playing in the NFL. That dream came to fruition through personal goals accompanied by countless hours of development — both on my own and with my coaches.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. The people who want to be great find ways to maximize their strengths. They also identify their weaknesses or blind spots. Once identified, they work on them. They dedicate their time to practicing, developing, and transforming. Their weakness, then, turn into strengths.
Because of this, I would argue that there is something in which companies should invest. This one thing must be a priority:
And not just for the next CEO — after all, there can only be one of those at a time — but for all employees. You can never have enough folks on your team that possess leadership qualities. In my opinion, it is rare to witness failure because of technical skills. It’s the lack of leadership skills and emotional intelligence that get you in trouble! Luckily these things can be taught and developed.
A consistent theme of my blogs is that leadership is not a destination. You don’t just magically assume a leadership role and cease evolving, both personally and as a business. You must constantly be pushing the envelope to progress. This is accomplished through training and development.
My point: No one is born to lead. Leadership is something we are taught. And leadership development is always necessary. If it isn’t being intentionally driven by your culture it’s still being driven – unintentionally. Either way, it’s happening.