Charisma, confidence, inspirational, and many other adjectives can be used to describe a natural leader. Those traits can be positive or negative, depending on how they are used. Before we continue, I want to make it clear that I don’t have anything against natural leaders, I am not a natural leader, but I know many great ones, I only mean to articulate how frustrating it can be to work with them when they don’t recognize that everyone does not have the same starting point. I want to urge those natural leaders that read this to recognize a few points that may help make organizational life better!
Not everyone who wants to lead can be a leader, not everyone who can lead will be a leader, not everyone who leads should be a leader, but sometimes will and skill align to create great leaders. So, my view of the age-old question of are leaders made or born is…both. Some are born with it; some develop it through deliberate effort.
Leadership is not natural for everyone. Natural leaders tend to forget that leadership does not come naturally to everyone. Things that are intuitive and easy to a natural leader must be learned and experienced by others before they can add them to their repertoire. I have had to spend countless hours, reading, talking, studying, failing, listening, and experimenting to be the leader I am today. I still have so much more room to improve and sometimes get frustrated with my shortcomings, but they motivate me to keep learning.
Not everyone wants to lead. Those that have learned to lead need to be careful of getting jaded by natural leaders or by those that don’t put in as much effort as they feel they had to. You can’t force people to do what you do, help them if you can and move on. Not everyone has a desire to lead which can seem frustrating to people that have worked so hard to become leaders. We need to remember some people want to be technical experts and only want to stay at that level. They don’t want to get to the point that they have to manage people and deal with that entirely different skillset. We need these people, they are the backbone of most organizations, so don’t promote them into positions that don’t utilize their skills or that make them unhappy. Let them do what they love and where their skills align with their passion. There are plenty of others that want to lead people.
If you want to lead and it doesn’t come naturally to you, then once you decide to learn to lead you will enter a long journey that will never really end. You will learn more than just leadership. I’m not talking about knowing different leadership theories or famous leaders and their books, but real leadership skills. You will also learn more about yourself than you want to know! Get used to being uncomfortable and get after it!