Monday, 9 January 2017

Is leadership an inherent trait or can people be taught to be good leaders?

They are the men and women who inspire you. Who transform potential into reality. Who manage, motivate, energize and influence people. Who create an iconic vision of the future. Who bring success and prosperity. The leaders. The visionaries who make a corner of the world a little better with their passion and innovation.

As with various other endeavours, leadership is important at every level in every organization. It is the leaders in an organization that provide the direction, encouragement and impetus to the employees towards conquering goals. Great leaders create great employees and together they create success for a business or an organization.

So, are good leaders born or made? Is leadership a natural talent or is it a characteristic that can be nurtured?  The question is sure to throw up many contrasting views, but behavioural theories point out that leadership is definitely more than just genetics.

Inborn traits can be associated more with leadership emergence than with leadership effectiveness. Within a group, an extrovert, a more intelligent or a confident person might assume leadership of the lot. However, this charisma does not necessarily mean that the same person will perform well if placed in a formal position of leadership.

People can become leaders through the process of training, learning, experience and observation. Inherent characteristics like being bold, assertive, smart, or risk-taking can be advantageous for leaders. If you don’t possess these characteristics, fret not. You can still be a phenomenal leader if you learn and develop the tactics, the strategies and the implementation.

Some of the most common attributes of a leader are -

·  Decision making skills
·  Flexibility
·  Fairness
·  Empathy
·  Confidence
·  Conviction
·  Communication skills
·  Conflict resolution
·  Critical thinking
·  Discipline
·  Business acumen

While individuals are born with varying degrees of these traits, only through practicing from the adolesent stage, these characteristics daily and across varying situations, can they become deep-rooted and an integral part of your character. Observe, listen, ask questions and pay attention to people around you. Take it upon yourself to evaluate your leadership abilities and acquire new skills. Do not wait to start learning something new, rather seek it out.

Leaders who have these qualities should not be complacent either but work hard to gain valuable expertise, perspective and insight to augment their skills. That is how effective leaders maximize their success. They make use of leadership training programs, knowledge from books, management courses, mentoring and learn from their experience to boost their skills and cement their position as a great leader.

Thus, if you are an owner of a business or part of the top management, you need to recognize that strong leadership development training at all levels in your organisation is crucial. Leadership is not about merely communicating guidelines to your employees and expecting them to achieve them. What an organization should do is prioritize leadership development and invest the required resources to make it happen and more importantly, make it effective.

For this you need to -

·  Communicate with your employees and get them to understand what leadership role is expected of them. Once you give them an overview of leadership requirements, you can provide them an opportunity to analyze where they stand and what skills gap they need to address to reach their goal.

·  Once you analyze your employees’ leadership strengths and weaknesses, you can decide on the kind of training they need. Training should be given in the core leadership skills that is lacking. Provide them with online resources, conduct workshops and bring in industry leaders to share expert views on leadership and leadership practices.

·  Networking is essential to individual growth of any leader as well as for business development. Networking will teach them how to form   connections, enter into discussions/conversations and act with the confidence of a leader.

·  Set up an objective mechanism to evaluate the performance of employees in leadership roles. You should reward employees who have shown outstanding leadership skills. 

·  Train your managers on new leadership styles, approaches, and methodologies with a view to expose them to various ideas and situations.

·  Mentoring is a great first stepping for developing leadership attributes. By using an effective mentoring program, you can help develop today’s talent into tomorrow’s leaders.

·  Believe in your employees and give them the authority to make certain decisions. When you give your employees responsibilities, they will  rise to the occasion and emerge as leaders.

·  People learn to be leaders by being around leaders. Leaders at the top should be role models for employees. They should aim to continuously remain a successful and a positive model in the workplace.

Organizations, today, need not spend time scouting for potential leaders outside their offices. Similarly, if you are an employee, lack of inherent leadership qualities need not deter you from becoming a great leader. There are several skills that are at the core of leadership, the embodiment of which makes an effective leader. Enhanced with education, training, coaching and experience, a person can undoubtedly cultivate all these qualities and more, needed to be champions for the forward progress of themselves and their

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