It is a common myth that there are only a few people who are born with the ability to lead, and that leadership cannot be taught. The fact is, effective leadership can be learned, and it is within the reach of anyone with the desire to be a successful leader.
Learning leadership is like learning to play tennis or the piano. You might never reach the level of ability of Serena Williams or Beethoven, but with diligent practice, you can be effective and successful. An Abraham Lincoln or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes along only once or twice in a generation, and usually in response to a crisis. Most organizations, however, don’t really need a ‘great’ leader; instead, for day-to-day effectiveness, they need leaders who are effective, sensible and competent; these qualities can be achieved through training, something we are all capable of.
There are a number of ways to get the training you need to be a successful leader.
- Formal programs. Many universities, colleges, and community colleges offer courses in leadership, on campus and through online and distance learning programs. Even when there is not a formal leadership course, courses such as communication, strategic planning and organizational behavior are available that contribute to development of good leadership skills. If you’re interested in enrolling in a full time program, visit your local school, or check the school's website to see what’s offered. If the school has a department of business or management, contact the director for advice on the courses you'll need to take to develop leadership skills.
- Online institutions. There are a number of institutions which specialize in computer-based education programs, and most offer courses in leadership development. An online search using the search phrases “leadership schools” or “leadership training” will yield hundreds. Review each organization's offerings, schedule, and fees before making a decision.
- Self-study. While there are those who believe leadership cannot be taught, it can be learned, and thist can be done by the individual himself. Abraham Lincoln was largely a self-taught leader. A program of reading and self study, especially when combined with occasional classroom work (on campus or online) can help you develop the skills you need to be a more effective leader. If your job or the demands of home life make full-time study impractical, this is a way to learn what you need to know.
Getting leadership training is not difficult. It is in fact, just a matter of deciding that you want to be an effective leader, and taking those essential first steps to set you on the road to becoming one.