The last time I did
this I got 8,517 hits. Eight thousand five hundred seventeen! Why is
there so much material on this one subject? The law of supply and
demand would say it is because people are buying it. But I suspect
there are other, more subtle reasons.
One of those reasons is the underlying belief that leadership can be
taught. With enough training, anybody can be a leader. The thesis is
that leaders are made, not born. Or are they?
The other day a woman told me that she sees definite leadership traits
in her son. I asked her how old he was. “Six,” she replied. Too young
to have been through any leadership training. So are leaders born or
made? The answer is both.
The problem is that we often get fuzzy about what can and cannot be
taught, and at the heart of the fuzziness is the difference between
talent and skill.
Talent is what we do well naturally. It is our bent. Talents are
inborn, and can be discovered and developed. They cannot be taught.
However, skills can. Skills are simply how to do something. They are
learned and transferable. When we confuse talent and skill, we set
ourselves up for disappointing expectations from training.
What does this have to do with developing leaders? Everything. For
example, the ability to create vision and strategy is a key leadership
trait. Some people have a talent for it. They do it naturally and
continually. Others don’t. Both can learn some skills that will help
them do it better. The difference is that the one with the
corresponding talent can be excellent at it, while the other one can be
adequate at best. Talent is required for excellence. Who wants more
Here’s the bottom line for developing your leadership potential: become
the leader you are designed to be. Discover your natural motivational
talents, and build on them. Volunteer for assignments and training that
compliment your natural giftedness. Get on the track to excellence by
aligning your development with your talents.
There are all types of leaders. Some rouse and inspire. Some organize.
Some are strategic, and some tactical. Some spot opportunities, and
some protect against disaster. All are needed in this world of ours.
What’s the best type of leader to be? The type you were designed to be.
For more insight you can match your own motivational profile to
leadership profile using an online career assessment