Leadership

Some people suggest that everyone is a leader.  This is my response to such a comment:

How many children do you have?  I happen to have three:  one son, two daughters.  They are nothing alike.  Each has his/her set of natural talents.  Each has developed particular skills.  It is most powerful, and exciting, when a person develops skills relative to their natural talents. 

And there is where you and I may fundamentally disagree.  I “know” leadership is a talent.  You may “know” it is a skill.  Some would say it is a blend of both but I think they are fundamentally mistaken. 

Since I played sports many of my analogies are sports-related.  Nearly every person can become better at something through practice.  One can say that practice develops skills.  But no matter how much some people practice they will never, ever be any good at that sport.  They may have better skills than they would have had, but they will never be competitive. 

Would you say that all people can fly fighter planes equally well?  There will be some people that you would never get into a plane if they were piloting the aircraft.  No matter how much they train.  Why?  Because they don’t have the natural talent.  Not all people are wired to be great pilots.   

We are all different, with different talents.     

I can not speak to what is happening in other countries but let me say a few words about what I see happening in the States.  There is a trend which I find distasteful and harmful.  We are so concerned about what everyone thinks and how everyone feels that we are becoming weak.  Some like to think we are becoming more sensitive but what I see is paralysis. 

Examples of what I mean can easily be found in education.  Everyone gets a star for trying.  We don’t want to hand out grades because those that would fail may develop a poor self image.  Some teachers don’t want to use a red marker to correct papers because there is too much negativity associated with the color red so they want to use purple.  We don’t keep score in some baseball leagues because someone will lose and they will feel badly.

And saying everyone can be a leader is more of the same.  It is OK for people not to lead.  It is OK for most people to follow / contribute in a different way to a higher goal. 

Don’t dilute what it means to be a leader.   

Don’t you wonder why some people are successful actors while others toil away in relative poverty?  They are not necessarily more attractive or even have better acting skills.  They have an “It” that others to do not possess.  Leaders also have an “It” that others do not possess.

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