Asking this question among leaders is like talking about politics over Thanksgiving dinner. It can get heated quickly, and you are not likely to resolve any differences before dessert. Walk by the playground, and you will see children who naturally lead. Watch a sports team, and there will be one person rallying the others for a “come-behind” victory. Did someone teach or coach them to influence or inspire others? What about the reverse scenario where you have a person in the position of leadership that can’t seem to rally the team for an inspirational cause? Was it because they weren’t born with the inherent gift of leadership or because they weren’t adequately trained on the skills of a leader?
The answer to this question is not binary. It is not a “yes” or “no” answer. Here is my take on it…We are all created in the image of God the Creator the universe. To be created in His image means we were all created in the fullness of that image. Meaning, we carry some traits of our Creator. The question is, “to what measure did they receive the traits”? We are all creative, compassionate, intellectually smart, and we all possess the gift of leadership. We may not have all traits with the same abundance as others, but rest assured, they are there.
Know this first
Society tends to glamorize leaders. We put them on a much higher platform, and some even establish a level of celebrity. This is a fool’s folly. Leaders just have a gift. Their gift is of no greater importance than the gifts everyone brings to their team. In fact, great leaders lead with the humility to know their team is where the strength of the organization lies. Greatness comes from the gifts of their team and the leader’s ability to inspire them to do great things.
Do you lead?
Those that are successful at influencing others to come together for something more significant than themselves are gifted with a greater abundance of what it takes to be a leader. They have the combination of a high IQ, EQ, CQ, and the charisma to inspire. They have the temperament to see the horizon, challenge the status quo, and motivate teams to take risks and action.
Those not gifted with the same measure of leadership are undoubtedly endowed with some. Their gifts may lie in other areas, and those strengths are sure to surface naturally in what they do. They may be a star on the team and just choose to stay out of leadership roles. Or, they may lead subgroups within the group that is more prescriptive and fit better within their core competencies. Individuals should be honored for the gifts they bring.
Can leadership be trained?
Of course, it can. Look no further than the United States military and service academies to see that leadership can be trained. With more than 2 million military personnel (active and reserve), leadership is taught and enforced in every member. The enlisted men and women, as well as the officers, are bombarded with leadership training. Can you imagine trying to find leaders in a population of 2 million? Now, not every military officer has the gift, but they have been trained and coached. Some will work well within the structure of the military, and some will rise quickly through the ranks. Which ones do you think were born with a more significant measure?
Training (Both sides)
Training and coaching leaders born with natural leadership ability is crucial to their long-term growth and success. Leaders progress over time. Their practical methods of influence will have likely evolved as they mature as a leader. Good leaders know this, and they solicit honest and critical feedback from trusted mentors to accelerate this growth. They have a high EQ, and they know what they don't. They are in a constant state of learning and growing. The training and coaching help to refine methods and implement new approaches that may help with situational issues.
Training non-leaders to be leaders is equally as essential. Training will help you accomplish several things. It will first help to identify leaders that may have been on the lower end of the spectrum and managed to stay off the radar. These leaders can be developed and come along quickly. It also begins to implement processes that synthesize leadership. Back to the military, this is how you maintain structure and consistency across a body of 2 million employees. Much of the military’s leadership is mechanically and synthesized through a process, procedure, and organizational structure.
I believe that people are inherently good and they want to do a great job. They want to be appreciated for their gifts and strengths. They will thrive under leadership and structure that promotes the use of individual talents that benefit the team.