Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela … these are some of the names one thinks of as soon as leadership talks ensue.
(article continues below)
Leaders, throughout epochs of human civilization, have unfailingly marked chapters in history with their stories of grandeur and, whether for good or bad, significantly impacted our lives.
Not surprisingly, there are leaders in the modern day corporate world and in years past who dared to think beyond the ordinary and made decisions that continue influencing our society even today.
They have directed us to steer the ship further and beckoned us to be its commanders. The more the ships the better, and therefore there is a strong need for as many talented commanders as possible.
Are Leaders Born or Made?
This brings us to our first question - is leadership a birth-talent distributed randomly by divinity or can it be infused and learned under proper environmental control?
We have throughout our lives met proponents of both theories and it would empirically appear that leadership-is-natural believers hold the better advantage.
Supporters of this theory note that world leaders in the past were not people grilled at training schools; they just had it in them, or as many people say, they were "born leaders".
The bigger issue here is: Can leadership be taught? Well, let us analyse this in brief.
The 'natural' leaders mentioned above did not know during their childhood that they were supposed to be leaders someday. They led normal lives until one day they consciously decided to pursue their staunch belief and pursue a passion to bring about change for the better.
They stood for change intensely challenged by the then prevalent societal thinking. Granted that they had the opportunity but I guess, we all have had our opportunities if we reflect back and will continue having them…we just fail to seize them.
The great names above and many more leaders of note saw, seized and capitalized upon those little opportunities to bind people together for common motives. They did not pick leadership as their driving force, nor did they anticipate the mass following they would have. My bet is they did not even know what leadership is in terms of modern-day business lingo. They just decided to step up and lead.
The lesson for entrepreneurs is clear. We need to understand leadership as a natural consequence of what we stand to achieve, resonating in the aims and desires of corresponding groups that work for and with us.
So the first task for a would-be leader is to have perspective. We need to believe that things are not fine just the way they are. More importantly, a leader in the making must have the attitude of "I can do it…I can give direction".
Until this belief is internalized, the motive and the momentum for leadership shall remain elusive and so will the consequence of your leadership…whether that be to grow a startup company, change the world or do both at the same time.
The desire to progressive reform has to stem from within. It is this association between our strong inside beliefs and the outside world that ensures that leadership skills can be developed and nurtured in any one of us under the right conditions.