Can leadership be learnt? In our view yes it can. Although you can’t change the personality of someone you can influence their preferred behaviours. So if they are put in a leadership position then the skills required to be effective can be learnt as this involves adapting behaviours of yourself and influencing the behaviours of others.
Nature or Nurture
There is no one common style of leadership, evidenced by the number of different theories that exist concerning leadership practice, and there is no one size fits all.
Rather it is a case of new leaders blending what is the best fit for them and this skills mix will depend on a number of factors such as the nature of the work and size and nature of staff. We all have the potential to be good leaders and learn from the environment we have been nurtured within. This can be done by observing and replicating what they perceive to be good practices in former managers/leaders.
A successful leader must have sufficient technical, commercial, and other knowledge related to their particular field. Such knowledge in itself however does not provide them with the skills required to be an effective leader. There are three other broad attributes that would need to be developed:
- The right personal attitudes
- The ability to motivate people
- The ability to create and maintain a team.
These in turn require a range of techniques:-
- Set objectives and plans
- How to train and develop individuals
- Communication & delegation.
These skills, which can be taught and learnt will make someone a much more effective leader than by just using the basic charm and persuasiveness they may have been born with.
Video Julian Barling: Can Leadership Be Taught?
Research suggests that leaders can indeed be developed, sometimes in workshops lasting only one day, says Julian Barling, Borden Chair of Leadership at Queen’s School of Business. “We overestimate what constitutes wonderful leadership. We would do well to remember that the best of leadership is not what extraordinary people accomplish by themselves. Instead, the best of leadership is about the smallest things that leaders do to inspire their employees.” Strangely, organizations are risk-averse when it comes to leadership development, preferring to invest in individuals who are already in leadership roles. Instead, Barling says, managers should be developed and nurtured long before they lead others.
Can Leadership Be Taught? | Vidusha Nathavitharana
Leadership training is flawed, but how do you go ahead and revolutionize an age-old craft of ‘seminar over seminar’, Vidusha Nathavitharana, urged everyone at the event to evaluate Return on Investment in such programmes, and gave us the methodology in this can be achieved.