Can you train leadership?

As I work on my new on line leadership coaching programme for hoteliers I was asked today if you can train leadership.  Good question; and brings us back to one of those perennial questions – are leaders born or made?

According to extensive long term research carried out by CHPD (for whom I work as an external leadership consultant) a proportion of leadership performance is influenced by personality, values, beliefs and attitudes, which are either inherent or formed relatively early in life. A second component is the person’s skills and experience, which although can’t change over night, can be developed over time. But by far the biggest proportion of leadership performance is determined by our behaviours, which are the easiest component to change.

So can you train leadership? Yes, I believe you can. Providing you identify the behaviours needed and then work on developing those behaviours that will give the biggest impact on a person’s performance.

These might not be where the person is weakest. Rather than plugging a gap to develop a weak spot (unless it is having a detrimental impact) and end up with mediocre performance, it may be better to capitalise on a person’s strengths and develop those instead. (I think back to my recent interview with Peter Thomson – “people will never consistently do who they aren’t”.) Then set up teams where individuals complement one another. Think of a football team; if someone showed an aptitude to do well in goal, you would be more likely to develop this skill rather than try to develop this person in every other aspect of playing football; what you are more likely to do is develop their goal keeping skills.

One of the first things to do in changing someone’s behaviours is making them aware – being aware of what they are doing, and the impact this has (see article on feedback), then help them identify how to build on positive behaviours and change negative behaviours.

Foundations in Leadership is a new approach to hospitality leadership development. Do you ever feel you aren’t getting everything you want from your team?  Instead would you love to tap into their true potential so you can focus on the bigger picture? Find out more about the programme here and take advantage of the fast action bonuses.

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3 thoughts on “Can you train leadership?

  1. Dale at Hospitality Re-Defined

    I believe you can “develop” further leadership skills, and in so doing you can make a good leader better, perhaps into the great leader that he/she has the potential to be, but I believe certain people are born to lead, and they possess the natural attributes to do so effectively.

    I wrote an article on my Blog on June 23rd of this year, entitled; “Great Leaders – Born or Bred?” where I explored this same question…

  2. Michael Juell

    I agree with Dale, I took the course through the Leadership Institute at Rappahannock Community College for a semenster on 2000. It was interesting and revealing to see the intereaction. I think it made us all stronger as leaders, and drew us out.

  3. Justin Muhandiramage

    Dear Mrs. Cooper,

    Leadership has its limitations. Every leader has to be moulded in such a way for further development of his leadership skills. This is achieved by a continuous, confident and committed approach to learning. Take for instance,your very own survey “Can You Train Leadership?” This survey certainly will enlighten you with new knowledge necessary to complete this survey. We are committed to acquire new ideas , knowledge, etc by continuous development studies.Take the case of Dictator Adolf Hitler. He wa not a BORN LEADER!! He was made by the people. He learnt through trial and error. I don’t totally agree with Mr. Dale wnen he says certain people are born to lead.Great Leadership is great knowledge, therefore, sans sound knowledge in whatever the field of field of activity one is not a good, better or GREAT leader. Without prejudice.

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