Henry Ford once said “Any man can learn anything he will, but no man can teach except to those who want to learn.”
When I think about being able to learn the skill set required to be an effective Leader, I think that this quote nicely summarizes my belief that leadership skills are NOT easily learned. You need to want to be a Leader to learn to be one. There exists a thirst inside those who truly want to be a Leader – a thirst for learning at every step of the way. Learning when we succeed and learning more so when we fail. And what sets the Great Leaders apart from the not-so-great leaders in our ever-changing world is that the Great Leaders want to share what they have learned with others. Furthermore, you really need to know what being a Leader means before you can begin to transform yourself or help to transform others – and remember, it is not about “making it to the top”.Certainly there is no magic switch here and this transformation does not happen overnight. We know that Leaders evolve over time. And learning about leadership does not happen when you study publications and texts. Learning about leadership does not happen in the research lab studying human behavior by second hand account of the lessons of leaders that came before us. Learning about leadership does not happen when you attend conferences with world renowned proven Leaders. Please don’t get me wrong, these are essential to hone the skills required for leadership. Learning about leadership begins when a decision is made to act in ways that will inspire others to be better. Often times this is not a conscious decision. The aspiring “Leader” within these people begin to do what is right and what is just in a very confusing and volatile landscape. This happens when decisions need to be made and action must be taken – in industry and in life. It is “on the job training” and making the most of daily experiences that learning about leadership is most profound.
But so many people are present when Leaders emerge and act in these ways; why is it that we do not find many more individuals who are able to rise to the challenge and respond to the hardships that require the resolve of our Leaders? I believe that it is because the Leader has a burning desire to make things right. The Leader needs to make things right. The Leader wants to help others to learn the lessons from failure. Leadership ability is best identified when you see a burning desire to learn from Leaders that have emerged before them. I firmly believe that one’s leadership ability can be more accurately assessed by those that have been personally impacted by the Leader than any expert in their industry might gauge from retrospective study. And these are the people that are most likely to learn from these Leaders. But first, you need to want to be a Leader to learn the life of leadership.
Please share and comment below and let me know if you believe that learning about how to be a better leader truly begins when we experience those that are leading for life. Thank you for your most precious commodity – your time!
P.S. – Tell me what you think of my quote that was inspired by writing this post: “Where you are heading in life is well defined by what you are learning in life.”
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