It is widely believed that leadership can be taught and there is a thriving multi-billion dollar industry to prove it. I agree that anyone can become at least incrementally, perhaps even demonstrably better at skills like listening, presenting, planning, goal setting, feedback and decision-making. Each of these core leadership competencies comes with models and frameworks – take your pick – that, through the discipline of routine practice can be effectively implemented.
And nothing about the application of those skills makes me feel compelled to follow.
I want more and I believe that you do, too.
I want my leader to possess and demonstrate a deep and genuine love for the welfare and progress of all people.
I want my leader to possess and demonstrate a deep and genuine humility born of robust self-awareness.
I want my leader to possess and demonstrate an ability to tell the story about where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going. And why.
I want my leader to possess and demonstrate an unparalleled commitment to personal, team, company and industry learning. I want them to have an energetic spirit of exploration and the expectation that I will, also.
Can these things be taught? Honestly, I don’t think so. I think to have them you have to care more than anyone else and only a very few are up for what that means and what that takes. It’s time to stop saying “everyone’s a leader” and start saying that while everyone can have influence and make an impact, leadership is reserved for those who dare to go where a shiny set of new skills can never take them.
DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.