True Leadership – Can It Be Taught?

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Reams of paper and hordes of digital bytes have been spent in the quest to define real leadership — especially in business. But can this “real” leadership be taught?

In the top-down hierarchical structure embraced by most companies, leadership roles are often thrust on the unwilling — or granted to the too-willing. Regardless of personality type and knowledge, anyone can lead. The question is, can anyone lead succesfully?

Some say good leaders don’t help you climb a mountain, but inspire you to find ways around the mountain. Others say true leadership is a catalyst for change. But how do leaders inspire their employees and lead the charge on change?

Famed management consultant Peter Drucker, who coined the term “knowledge worker,” has said that charisma is not enough. He pointed to highly charismatic leaders like Stalin, Mao, and Hitler to suggest that the ability to inspire may not always be the answer. Charisma may draw people to action, but the question remains — to what action?

So aside from (or in addition to) charisma, inspiring employees and customers requires a dedication and enthusiasm to the purpose of the organization, and the ability to articulate and share that purpose with employees, clients — even customers. Why are you in the business you’re in? What purpose does your business serve?

Whether leaders are involved with the minutiae or obsessed with the organization’s larger mission, it could be that the most successful managers keep their eyes fixed clearly on the goal set before them, and encourage in word and deed that their colleagues do the same.

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