There has been a debate for years about what makes a leader. This debate has resulted in two schools of thought. One school proposes that leaders are made from a select few unique of individuals, born with a rare set of leadership abilities – leaders are born. The other school of thought proposes that leaders are made, that we learn, grow and develop into leaders – leaders are made.
”In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time — literally — substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it.” – Peter Drucker, “Managing Knowledge Means Managing Oneself”, Leader to Leader, No. 16 Spring 2000
In Ancient Greece the philosopher Socrates famously stated at his trial, “the unexamined life is not worth living”. This quote from Socrates comes from Plato’s Apology and is his recollection of the speech Socrates gave to defend himself at his trial. Socrates was accused of not recognising the gods and corrupting the youth of Athens by encouraging them to challenge accepted beliefs and to think for themselves.
Successful leaders know that they must get out of their comfort zone to succeed. Great leaders from history are those who have spent a large amount of their time outside their comfort zone.
Leaders who take risks and step into their learning zone are those that succeed. It’s only when you can give up what’s safe and familiar that you create opportunities and develop new capabilities. As you do, you expand your influence and gain the skills required to take on bigger and bigger challenges.
Leadership determines a team’s level of effectiveness. The more you seek to achieve the greater the leadership required. This is the reason for the huge demand for leaders during times of rapid change.
A lack of leadership limits success more than any other resource.
The good news is that leaders are made, not born. We can all improve and develop our leadership ability. Let’s explore how this is done.
Effective leaders continually invest in their personal development and one of the best ways is by reading. Reading is critical for personal development and personal development is key to effective leadership. However reading only benefits you to the extent to which you’re able to process and apply what you’ve read.
“The only difference between who you are today and the person you will be in five years will come from the books you read and the people you associate with.” – Charles Tremendous Jones