Are leaders born or made? A study from the University of Illinois (Journal of Leadership Education, October, 2014) found that leadership traits can be taught, which supports past research suggesting that leadership is 30% genetic and 70% learned through life experiences. Professor Keating teaches students confidence, skills, and motivation to lead as part of their leadership development program. Professor Rosch stated “The definition we use in the course is that leadership is an individual influencing a group of people toward a common goal.” We influence others through our interactions, relationships, and communications. Unfortunately most of our leaders today have little or no training in leadership development. Where is the leadership skills among high-ranking government officials, public figures, and so many who are in a position of power and control?
Unfortunately, many leaders today are more self-serving than self-sacrificing. They lose credibility when they don’t manage their affairs and behaviors. The character and integrity of some of our leaders is suspect since they often provide empty promises and aren’t always the best role models. Poor leaders fail to listen, lack communication skills, and don’t encourage others, but instead micro-manage.
We gain respect by giving respect. We also influence others not just by our words, but more by our actions. Positive leaders are often driven, confident, passionate, and have a strong work ethic, but they also are resilient during stressful times. Being honest, consistent, and maintaining a positive attitude are all part of being a good leader.
Great leaders appreciate the goodness in others, maintain an emotional awareness, and have an ability to inspire others. Being creative, intuitive, and be able to think outside the box is also part of leadership. The most effective leaders care about their people, maintain humility, and empower their staff. Lastly, great leaders have vision, collaborate with others, and learn how to best utilize other’s strengths. We are all given the opportunity to lead others whether it’s our staff, children, friends, or community, so make the most of these connections. Remember leaders are not born, but made through hard work and effort.