I have heard other leadership experts answer this question in humorous ways, serious ways and in objective ways. I have heard some say “I have never met a leader that wasn’t born.” I know some who feel that not just anyone can be a leader, there are many answers, so today I add my billion dollar sense.
For almost two decades I have studied the subject of leadership, leaders, best and worst practices of leadership and so on. I consider myself a student and teacher of the subject of leadership. I constantly glean from others as well as my mentors on the subject. So let’s tackle this common question.
In short, I believe EVERYONE is a leader, so that would presuppose that leaders are born. But to reach your full leader potential, you must be developed, place in the right position and be willing to learn and grow. You may disagree that everyone is a leader because you are thinking of some people you know that had a “Leadership Position” but was terrible at leading the unit or team.
The problem with that scenario is that you encountered a person who was not devolved in leadership. Many times a person is given a position because they are good at a task or with a system. But this doesn’t mean they are ready for a position of leadership.
Leadership is about people, not systems and task. So a person can be recognized for their work, but may not be ready to love, lead and help others. Often times we place people in positions of leadership and they fail, because they have never been developed for leadership.
Let me give you a visual if I may. If you are familiar with the game of basketball, especially team basketball, you know that on the court there are five positions, two guards, two forwards and one center. Now I’m sure you have heard of Michael “Air” Jordan, who is said to be one of the best to play professional basketball.
Air Jordan was a guard, that was his position, but think for a second, if his coach made him play center. Do you think he would have had the same degree of success? Would he have won six championships, numerous scoring titles, and multiple MVP awards? I don’t think so. Why not? Because he would have been out of the proper position to bring his potential to the greatest level on the court.
Think about that person that is great with systems, the boss sees them and says this person should be in charge of the unit or the team. Yet the person hasn’t been developed to lead people, the person is equipped to handle systems. Maybe they can be a lead trainer, or be a leader by example in how to run a particular system, but not ready for a position of leadership.
A leader is a person that provides an example, whether that example is good or bad, that person is a leader. That’s why I believe EVERYONE is a leader. Take for example, a mother of three children may become a leader for a new mother and become an example for this new mother. But does that mean the mother of three is ready to become the head of the New Mothers Association, a leadership position. Maybe not, but she still can provide guidance and instructions for new moms.
So to wrap this up, EVERYONE is a leader, but everyone should not be given positions of leadership until you know they are ready. If you are given a position of leadership, remember that it is no longer about systems and task, but about people.
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