In discussions regarding leadership, the question is frequently asked, “Are leaders made or born?” When asked this question, I often quip, “Both. I have never met a leader who wasn’t born.” However, the truth of the matter is that I do not believe anyone is a “born leader.” I am a firm believer that leadership is not something innate, but learned.
Some people learn leadership at an early age because they were raised in a family that modeled good leadership. Other leaders were less fortunate and had to learn their leadership skills by other methods.
The obvious question then is “how does one learn to be a leader?” The answer is “the same way any other behavior is learned.” That being the case, let’s explore how leadership is actually learned.
Through Personal Experience
You can learn through trial and error. Former major league pitcher Vernon Law suggested “Experience is the best teacher because she gives the test first and the lessons afterwards.” Every leader learns through experience. Leadership is often going where no one has gone before and blazing the trail. That is part of what makes a leader a leader. In fact, one thing that makes a great leader is the ability to learn from one’s mistakes.