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The Myth of the Born Leader

Leadership can be modeled and taught

I know that I’ll step on a few toes when I say that it’s a myth that people are born leaders. I’m sure I've already offended some of the “born leaders” out there. I realize there’s debate on this issue and, well … I struggle with the same question. In my career, I’ve tried to talk people into leadership; train them into to it; “whip” them into it, and it usually didn’t work. I began to believe that true leaders are born, not taught. That was until I invested in my own leadership development and saw the benefits. I now believe that leadership skills can be developed and nurtured. That said, I do believe that the leading candidate must have a spark or something to work with. On a leadership potential scale of 1 to 10, I’ve learned to spend a lot more time with 7s than with 2s. That’s not to call the person a “2” as a human being. It’s simply an assessment of their leadership skill. That person is probably a 9 at something else. Your job is to find the “something else” or to move that one in another direction. You'll experience more joy and it will “feel” better to all involved if you work at making 7s into 9s versus making 2s into 4s.

Assuming that you’re committed to growing yourself and your team as leaders, here are five things you should do right now: My Top Five Leadership Growth Strategies: (1) Prioritize leadership development for yourself and your team. There are only so many Mother Teresas or Abraham Lincolns born in every generation. The rest of us have to work really hard at it. Invest in your 7s; even if that’s you. (2) Build an A+ team and then train, develop and trust them. Pay more for good people and wait longer if you have to. Avoid knee-jerk hiring decisions. If you have a reservation, you’re probably right; wait for the right one. (3) Get partners in your success. Partners multiply your capabilities. (4) Love the people. You have to connect with your people and show them you care. Do you want people to follow you? Get behind their dreams and goals—help them achieve their next level. Don’t look at your people as commodities; a mere exchange of money for labor. A-type leaders struggle with this. They’re so results-oriented that they fail the see the human being standing in front of them. (5) Don’t neglect your personal life. Faith, family, fun, diet, exercise, and hobbies are extremely important to round you out as an effective leader. I know that lately it’s all about the hustle and I get it. No one succeeds without that, but being “on” 24/7 eventually leads to a shipwreck of some sort. Practice these five leadership growth strategies and everyone will call you a "born leader." Wayne

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