The question now is: if leadership can be taught, why are there so few effective leaders among the billions of humans that walk the Earth? To quote The Leadership Skills Institute’s article, “I’ve gone to Barnes and Noble I don’t know how many times and bought the self-improvement and how-to books on leadership skills training courses. I’ve read them cover to cover, always digging for the secret that makes one a leader. And they all say the same thing: it’s in the way you think.”
In other words, leadership is a mindset. Some people’s way of thinking does not correlate with the mindset suitable for being a highly effective leader. Even more important than choosing the right method of teaching leadership is choosing the right student. To successfully mold a strong leader you need a student who has “a track record of success [in their current role] and have already exhibited leadership traits” (4 Tips for Teaching Leadership Skills, Nicole Fallon). A short list of traits to look for includes:
- Strong listening skills
- A vision
- They work for everyone else
Good listening skills are self-explanatory, but the other two traits are not as clear. By “vision” I mean that the potential leader must show signs of being able to clearly see the end goal, and understand how to get there by leveraging the people around them. By working for everyone else, I mean that a good leader will not get caught up with the idea of people working for them. They need to have the belief that as the leader they are working for everyone on the team to help them progress towards the end goal. It is impossible for a leader to do all of the work to get their team to the end goal. Leaders will need to work through their team, and if the team sees their leader working for them, they will be more inclined to work to their full potential. That is the ultimate goal for a leader isn’t it? There is no greater success for a leader than to have their team work to their full potential, and meet or exceed the original goal.