January 9, 2011
This question has occupied researchers for decades. Can you sit in a classroom and be taught the skills, or can leadership only experienced?
The answer seems to be: yes, leadership CAN be taught however can’t be learned in the classroom alone.
So leaders aren’t born. But people are born with different potentials to lead and the goal of any leadership development program must then focus on building on existing personal strengths with theory, facilitation, simulation and one-on-one coaching. Some of the executive development courses offered these days are fantastic examples of thie rounded approach to developing true leaders. Unfortunately, there are still many who believe that a theoretical, classroom-based intervention on it’s own will magically create leadership skills.
If you’re time-poor or financially restricted as many small business owners are, I’d suggest that you make maximum use of the free and low cost opportunities to learn and open your mind to new ways of leading. Your local library has a multitude of free resources. There are lots of great websites and video clips available on the internet. And joining a professional management or industry body can be a great resource of information and networking. Many also offer mentoring – some charge and some offer this as a free service for longer-serving members.
In my experience with over a decade’s experience working with leadership development, mentoring and coaching can be the best ways to assist individuals to focus on their strengths and build or work around their blind spots. Coaching particularly supports individuals as they hit their ingrained personal boundaries and push through into new behaviours and new ways of thinking. On your own, no matter how good the information you receive on a course or in a book, you can modify your style a little but not substantially.
If you truly want to grow and develop as a leader, and the rewards for doing so are great, then believe that you can be the leader you’ve always aspired to be and invest your time money in opportunities that provide you with lots of experience as well as theory and you will be setting yourself up for success.