Can Someone Learn to Lead?
I’m often asked if someone can learn to lead. My short answer is: If you want to be a leader, you can absolutely learn to lead! If you’re interested in helping others (and yourself) grow, and you enjoy being around people, then you have everything it takes to become a leader.
Just like everything else, becoming the best leader takes work. It means a commitment to constant learning and to the growth of the people you lead. So where do you find the resources to help you on your journey?
Here are a few ideas.
- Look at what people are reading. Some self-help and leadership books will be more useful than others.
- Take courses in a variety of areas, including industry-related topics, leadership, communication, coaching, feedback, human resources. The more diverse you are, the stronger your leadership skills will be.
- Seek feedback on your leadership. Ask those around you what you do best and strengthen those skills.
- Try to apply what you learn right away. Starting at home with family members is an excellent testing ground. They can help you determine what may work and what might flop.
- Find a mentor. An experienced, respected leader can give you practical advice and tips to jump-start your journey.
- Become a mentor. Early on I realized that the best way to learn is to teach. It’s amazing how your game steps up when you are being challenged to be an expert.
- Follow recognized leaders on social media (Twitter and LinkedIn are especially good for this).
- Observe people. When I was growing up my father told me if I see something I like, to steal it. After a while I realized he didn’t mean I should become a shoplifter, but that if you see someone doing something you think is great, add that to your skills.
- Reflect on the things you learn, see and experience. It is through personal reflection that we grow as people and as leaders.
- Get experience. Often overlooked are the opportunities to grow through volunteering. Whether you volunteer to head up a committee at work or at a local not-for-profit, the experience gained through volunteering can give you skills that can be used throughout your life.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with this quote from Robert Louis Stevenson: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”
Kevin Henderson is manager of content creation at Velsoft Training Materials.