We all remember our favourite teacher from school, the one who inspired us, made us believe we could conquer anything. Mine was a my A level English Literature teacher, she was a new teacher, and in the two years I was in her classroom she taught me more than metaphors and similes.
She inspired me, mentored me, and gave me the confidence to choose literature as my degree.
We all remember great leaders and of course, shocking ones. And normally we remember what made them great.
I have had the privilege of working under some fantastic mentors who have pushed and developed me without stifling.
I don’t respond well to micro management and for me, a strong leader is someone who pushes me to fly with my own wings.
Got a problem?
My current line manager taught me the power of “bring me a solution not a problem.” For me this is a key skill to be taught in self development, and a marks a real shift in the consciously competent model.
When I began to identify solutions to my own problems I began to mature as a consultant and started to edge towards unconsciously competent, where I aspired to be.
Had I reported into a leader who simply answered my query and sent me away with none of my own ideas, I question if I would have ever developed?
So are great leaders born or made?
I recently wrote a post on micro management verses motivating and in that I alluded to the fact that I think most leadership skills can be taught.
Coaching is an art form, being able to understand NLP and use it well is another. Being able to lead people may be innate in a few but it can be taught in others.
It is my opinion, if you want to become a manager who inspires then you need to look at yourself and see your faults and your skills clearly.
I was once subject to a 360 review from my peers and directors, it was commented from my team that at times I could be patronising.
I was devastated with the feedback. I didn’t realise that what I thought was encouragement actually came across as though I was a teacher speaking to children. Not a manager speaking to her team. I was blind to my own faults.
In the years that have followed I remain very conscious of that review and reflect often on how to ensure my style is empowering rather than condescending. I don’t get it right all of the time, but that is my ultimate aim.
Leadership is something that needs to be worked at, trained for and maintained. You cannot call yourself a leader, you must be perceived as such.
But what do you think? Is it a nature verse nurture argument?
Can you become a great leader and learn from your mistakes?