Leadership: A Skill or an Art?

A lot of people seem to operate under the assumption that Leadership is an Art — that it’s an intuitive action and should therefore come naturally. That great leaders are ‘born’ with the skill to lead, just lying dormant within them until they come across a team.

It’s an interesting take, considering how much discipline art itself actually requires. Ask any professional artist, in fact, and they’ll likely tell you that natural talent is only a small piece of the pie — discipline and perseverance have a much bigger effect on your artistic success in the long run. In any medium, art is a skill you must study and learn. Sure, some people are born with more natural talent than others — but talent can only get you so far, and it certainly isn’t the be-all, end-all.

So the idea that art has to come naturally is as off-base for the writer, painter or musician as it is for leadership.

A true leader needs training, needs to learn, needs to grow. It’s not going to just come magically. What’s more, we need to practice in the real world; we need to get it wrong, and make it better. The more you lead, and do your best to lead well, the better a leader you’ll become. It can be learned. Yes, some people are born already good at it, sure, but for most of us it’s a constant need to keep ourselves in check. And that’s a good thing — we should always want to improve, and it’s important to know that we can.

Leadership is as much skill as it is intuition. Are you practicing?