There’s much talk about whether leaders are born or made, if you can build leadership skills or if they are just innate in some people. No matter what side of the argument you’re on, I think that most people would agree that there are some skills, traits, and characteristics that most great leaders share.
Most good leaders tend to be, outwardly, at any rate, someone who most people would describe as a “People Person”. This characteristic helps good leaders flex their communication style so that they can quickly put people at ease and gain their trust. This isn’t an introvert vs extrovert thing, I firmly believe that this can be a learned characteristic. It may take some people more energy and effort to win over a room full of people, but I think that most people can learn this skill.
Awesome leaders are well aware, for the most part, of their strengths and weaknesses. They come from a place of authenticity. They don’t shy away from feedback, they see it as an opportunity for growth and development. They surround themselves with people who have the strengths that they lack and are not afraid to admit when they aren’t the smartest person in the room. My vote is that self-awareness can be learned, but it isn’t always easy. I also think that self-awareness can be UN-learned so it is important that leaders stay in touch with who they are and don’t lose their sense of self as they morph, change, grow and move up the career ladder. I feel that having-self awareness is one of the most important leadership skills.
Really great leaders as the person that someone can hand a complex problem to and walk away from knowing that they will get things done. For my people who watched Scandal, think of Olivia Pope. It’s handled! Whether it is by themselves or through delegation, great leaders are focused on results and getting things done. Is this something that people are born with? I think that this trait can be learned. A lot of people like the feeling that you get when things are done, especially when they are done well. A procrastinator can develop the characteristic of being results focused by zeroing in on that feeling and knocking things off of a list one at a time. Before you know it, striving for results will seem like something you’ve always done.
Who would you have rather have as a leader, Winnie the Pooh or Eeyore? Most people are going to go for the bear so that they can be around someone (something?) that is joyful and happy. It may seem corny, but smiles are infectious and moods do rub off on people. It is a lot better to have a good mood rub off on someone than a bad one. This one is a no-brainer for me. I don’t think that anyone is born in a bad mood. Also, how you respond to things is completely in your control. People who have learned to truly see the world as an awesome place full of joy and wonder tend to make better leaders. So, it’s up to you, honeypots or rain clouds, you choose.
As a Leadership Development Coach, I think that each of these leadership skills can be taught. But I’d love to hear from you. What’s your verdict, are great leaders born or can they be made? Let me know your thoughts!