Can You Learn to Lead?

Are you ready for your next leadership opportunity?

Are leaders born? That is one of the regular questions leadership author John C. Maxwell says he answers when he speaks to an audience. The answer is, of course, yes they are just like everyone else.

The answer people seek is whether one is born a natural leader. The answer is no, people are not born leaders, but many people realize their leadership potential very early in life and develop into leaders.

We all know people who seem to be natural leaders. They always seem ready to bring people with them through just about anything. Oddly enough, these leaders are not always the boss at work, but if the boss doesn’t win this leader over early on, she will have a hard time getting the rest of the people to follow along. People who fit in this category of leadership tend to have a certain brand of charisma, but they are often not skilled leaders.

Leadership is a skill that can be learned. There are hundreds of books on the subject along with countless articles that can easily be searched on the Web. Many people learn how to be leaders by watching other leaders in action. There are positives and negatives to that approach as the leader being observed may not have the best leadership skills. This leader may certainly have the type of leadership that works for them, but it might not work for others.

Many people find themselves being placed in leadership positions because they posses a certain skill. As a child you may have been chosen as the baseball team captain because you were a good baseball player. But being good at something doesn’t always make you a good leader — just as the best salesperson isn’t always the best sales manager.

Leadership is part art, part common sense, part people awareness and a lot of gut. There is one thing leadership experts all agree on: The time to learn to lead comes long before the time to lead. You don’t have to be a leader today to begin the preparation to be one. In fact, it is a lot easier to begin working on your skills before you are given a larger responsibility.

Learning to lead requires one to take in as many opportunities as possible to observe leadership, read about it and hear about it.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden is quoted as saying, “The time to prepare isn’t after you have been given the opportunity. It’s long before that opportunity arises. Once the opportunity arrives, it’s too late to prepare.”

Wooden won 10 NCAA basketball championships in his career, so he does have some credibility in the area of preparedness.

Coach Wooden is also quoted as saying, “Leadership is the ability to get individuals to work together for the common good and the best possible results while at the same time letting them know they did it themselves.”

How are you practicing better leadership skills? What are you doing to prepare for your next leadership opportunity? What readership book are you reading? Comment below.

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