Consider the facts: new leaders rarely get the training they need to manage people. Instead, what they get is “Congratulations! You’re promoted! Good luck!” This is a serious problem. Most of the leaders who quit, are demoted, or are asked to leave a company do so because they lack people skills.
The problem is not who is being promoted. Let’s say it again: people who are promoted into management roles are given great management responsibilities because they are intelligent, hard-working, experienced, and business-savvy. The problem is their lack of leadership training. Just as you need training to gain technical knowledge and organizational experience, you also need training in people skills.
A thought might be tickling your mind right now: “Wait a minute – isn’t good leadership a character trait? Aren’t some people ‘natural-born leaders’? Isn’t it true that you either “have it or you don’t?” No, no, and no. Some people are more charismatic than others. But charisma is not a prerequisite to becoming an effective leader. A person can be charismatic but unable to strategize, resolve conflicts, effect change, lead a team to create a shared vision, or execute to deliver superior sustainable results.
Leadership is not genetic. Delivery room doctors do not announce “This baby has phenomenal leadership DNA!” Leadership is a skill. And like all skills, it can be taught and learned.
Excellent, skilled leaders have one thing in common: they treated the development of their leadership skills seriously. They took every opportunity to learn from experts, study best practices, attend seminars, and continually practice what they learned until they “got it right.” Just as a professional athlete must continually practice and hone his or her craft, so must effective leaders. Leadership is not inherited; it is a skill you must actively achieve.
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