I recently attended a debate at the Business Forum, hosted by Chartered Accountants ANZ, about whether leadership can be learned or if it’s in the genes.
The argument that leadership is a birthright poured scorn on the booming global leadership industry—that’s worth $45 billion annually—as a complete fallacy, advising the audience not to waste their money on online courses promising to get them to the next rung on the corporate ladder.
While the opposition argued that education is an evolving lifelong process and that most skills are learned. They quipped that leadership can be taught because even girls and kiwis are doing it!
Personality traits have a lot to do with leadership and some people naturally possess those qualities, which are observable from a young age. However, I also believe that skills and talent can be nurtured. And if leadership is about walking your own talk and inspiring others then surely that comes from experience and authenticity rather than birthright? One view that supports the idea of experience is that leadership stems initially from home—with moral values and rules instilled by mothers, who usually set the tone of the household, and to some extent, of course, fathers.
So can anyone be a leader, including an introvert who lacks confidence, charisma conviction and authority? In theory, yes, but not everyone aspires to be a leader and that comes back to personality as well as values, career and lifestyle choice.
In the run up to the US election with the ridiculous likelihood of Donald Trump being elected, and the upcoming Australian election with the uninspiring choice of watery policies from Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, it poses the question: where the hell are all the charismatic leaders?
I’d love to know what you think about leadership. Let’s continue the debate.