You must have come across someone in your life who is a naturally brilliant leader. When you meet a great leader, you know it. They have an intoxicating presence and you can’t help but hang on to their every word.
Great leaders seem to have a natural ability to inspire and get the best out of people. They are respectful, discreet, trustworthy, and are adept listeners.
But great leaders aren’t just a sum of their great qualities. There is something more.
What does it take to be a great leader? Is it something you are born with or can leadership skills be developed? For sure, there are many leadership qualities that can be taught.
But can the ‘something extra’ great leaders seem to possess be learned? Can anyone really learn the infectious communication skills of a great leader?
This article takes a look at the characteristics of great leaders, how leaders succeed, and whether or not all of the skills required to lead can be learned by anyone.
What Are the Characteristics of a Great Leader?
Not all leaders possess the same leadership skills. But they probably have a core set of traits that define why they find it so easy and natural to lead.
- Great communication and listening skills
- Positive attitude
- A sense of humor
- Ability to inspire
- Ability to delegate
- Emotional agility
How Do Great Leaders Succeed?
Entrepreneur and business owner Jason Curtis argues “Good leaders get by, great leaders succeed“. There is definitely a distinction between a good leader and a great one.
Both good leaders and great leaders get results But great leaders seem to offer something more.
A good manager isn’t necessarily a great leader. Great leaders have an exceptional ability to get greatness out of others.
A good manager can lead and get results. But they don’t usually have the extra knack of facilitating a process whereby every team member reaches their full potential.
Great leaders genuinely inspire and care about others. They also have an in-built radar for knowing when they need to adapt and change. They know when to recruit people who are more knowledgeable than themselves and they are never afraid to empower others.
The difference between a truly great leader and a good one can be hard to pin down. But a great leader has the ability to surround themselves with highly capable individuals. A great leader is an effective influencer who is extraordinary with their vision.
A great leader also remains calm when there is chaos. They can spot opportunities and seek solutions. They don’t get bogged down in all of their problems. They are confident, optimistic, and they believe. They act with integrity and have an uncanny ability to make everyone else believe in their vision too. That is why they are so successful.
Can All Leadership Skills Be Developed?
While a great many leadership skills can be taught, it takes a certain type of character to be a truly great leader.
The debate over whether leadership ability is genetic or learn-able has been going for years, with convincing arguments on both sides.
Just as some have natural abilities and artistic talents for sports, painting or carpentry, some appear to have the natural gift to influence and lead others.
However, it is not beyond the realm for a good leader to sharpen their skills.
Management training business iManage Performance argues that,
Leadership skills can be learned. And as with any other business skill, the more you exercise your leadership muscle, the better you get.
Other factors influencing the development of leadership skills include family, peers, religion, education and social culture. So the question of great leadership being completely innate doesn’t necessarily ring true.
Yes, there are ‘natural’ leaders and leadership isn’t something everyone can easily develop. But with the right training and support, a great many leadership skills can actually be learned.
Which Leadership Skills can be Learned?
There are a number of skills that are important for leaders:
- Strategic thinking
- People management
- How to respond and adapt to change
- The ability to influence
It’s a bit of yes and no as to whether leadership skills can be taught, and some people will learn better than others. A great leader still needs to learn how to perform a job effectively and efficiently. Industry-specific tasks aren’t born out of natural talent; they are learned.
Practice and experience matter. A natural, innate ability to lead can and will also inform leadership qualities and ensure success. Many great leaders are extroverts, but that doesn’t mean you have to be an extrovert to lead.
You can become a better communicator. You can become a bit more extrovert. You can’t change character traits overnight, but you can work towards being a more effective leader.
How Can Anyone Learn Leadership Skills?
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