I have a confession to make. I was a horrible leader when I was promoted into my first formal leadership role.
There was some truth to the fact that I was a “natural” leader. For the most part, this meant that in my younger years I was naturally drawn to coordinating groups and to making decisions.
And according to a recent Harvard Business Review article, making decisions swiftly is one of 4 key leadership skills for effective CEO’s. Go, me!
But, that still leaves three skills necessary for CEO’s that I didn’t possess at the time.
It turns out that after you make decisions, you need to be able to get people on-board with said decision. Sadly, this was not my strong suit.
In my mind, I was the boss, so everyone should just naturally see the wisdom in my choice and subsequently, follow blindly. Sadly, this is not what happened.
Additionally, after getting teams aligned, effective CEO’s also need to be able to adapt pro-actively. The good news is that I was able to manage change well and shift to whatever was called for in the moment.
But, again, because I was able to adjust and choose a new path, that pesky necessity of getting others on-board kept rearing its ugly head. And my ability to do so was still limited.
Last but not least, effective CEO’s need to reliably deliver. Of course, I was only able to evaluate this skill after many years. But research has shown that in the meantime, my resume may have been a good indicator of my grit, which in turn could predict my results. Who knew? Luckily, I had a history of producing results both in my personal life and in my work.
While this article is a good start in considering what skills are important for effective leadership, it has its limitations. One of which is that we don’t know if it was in fact the behaviors or many other variables within the context that influenced the leaders results.
But more importantly, can we actually learn these skills if we don’t have them?
A common misperception in leadership is that great leaders are just born that way. As a leadership coach, I can confidently state that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Leadership behaviors can be taught and learned, and in most cases, must be.
So how to go about it? First, get some feedback on which leadership skills you may be lacking. Second, commit to creating change by behaving differently.
Yes, great leaders are born, but many are created by choice.