One of the most often-asked questions about leadership is: Are leaders born or made? Research suggests that leadership is about one-third born and two-thirds made.
No matter which industry do you belong to – business, sports, politics or some other – the ability to effectively motivate and lead a group of people entails a very complex set of skills, most of which are picked up through experiences, self-development as well as access to subsequent training.
The good news for those of us involved in leadership development is: leaders are made, not born.
Here are 4 strategies that will help you become a better leader:
1. Surround Yourself with People Who Think Differently Than You
Leaders constantly face difficult challenges for which no one person typically has a solution. If you want to become a better leader, it’s essential to look for people who view things from a different perspective than you – and from one another. As a leader, you should be setting the tone for your company. Create a culture where people feel respected, so they’re excited yet comfortable about sharing their ideas.
With this approach to better decision making, your team will actively support and inspire each other to work hard. What’s more, people will happily take on work they were part of creating.
2. Know That Leadership Isn’t Primarily About Genetics
Had leadership been only about genetics, researchers would have plotted out the right concoction of skills, intellect, strategic thinking, communication, and a perfect balance between introversion and extroversion to identify the next “great man” or “great woman.” However, we don’t see that because most effective leaders are very different from each other, with different skills and personalities. Essentially, all excellent leaders influence people with effectiveness, but how they influence people varies significantly.
Certain great leaders have introverted personalities while others are extroverted. Some of them are more strategic in their approach and some might possess extraordinary interpersonal skills that inspires great confidence and belief in others. On the other hand, some may have a gift for administration and detail.
While the characteristics given at birth have a strong influence on the type of a leader someone is, whether strategic, administrative or relational, it is the development of leader that impacts his or her effectiveness. In a nutshell, genetics impact how one leads and nurture impacts the effectiveness of one’s leadership.
3. Do What Other Leaders Do
You learn to become a leader by following what other extraordinary leaders have done before you. First, you become adept at your job, and then you learn the art of understanding the motivations and behaviors of other people.
As a great leader, you blend your personal competencies with the various competencies of others into a high-functioning team that can outplay and outperform all its competitors. Regardless of how many team members do you have, once you become a team leader, it’s critical to develop a whole new set of leadership skills. Growing as a leader requires one to be a lifelong learner and figuring out what makes people want to follow someone or avoid them.
4. Push Yourself Beyond Your Comfort Level
Do you have a sense of your comfort zone? It’s quite natural to become overwhelmed with fear at the thought of going beyond your imaginary boundaries – something most of us are not eager to face. Think for a moment about the areas of your leadership job where you are not taking action to get a clear idea of the boundaries defined by your comfort zone.
One great way to increase the circumference of your leadership comfort zone is to experiment, become vulnerable and take risks in circumstances where the impact or consequences are small. This will eventually give you the confidence to work up to the bigger challenges you tend to avoid – the ones that can prevent you taking your leadership success to the next level.