Leadership cannot be taught

Last night Elizabeth and I attended a leadership seminar. The premise of the presentation, and the book authored by the presenter, was that leadership cannot be taught but it can be learned. The speaker went on to explain that the the premise is not a contradiction because while schools cannot teach the curriculum that prepares one to be a leader, the hard knock, real world survival lessons of life can prepare an individual to lead.

Here is my hard learned lessons of leadership.

I think of all the staff at DDA as leaders. The programmers, copy writers, graphic designers, illustrators, SEO specialists, artists, video production crews, and photographers are leaders within their industry niche, within their department, and within themselves. They are offered responsibility and authority and challenges. They rise to accept and meet them or they shrink from the opportunity. If they rise and fail, they are hopefully corrected and thanked for trying and asked to try again next time.

Most importantly, it is in the trying that they grow and learn and become wiser and more sure of themselves and more able to lead. The concept that to be a leader, you must have followers is way too limiting. Leadership is about the willingness to have, express, and follow a point of view.

As management, Elizabeth and I know that we cannot run the business from above. There is a sign in my office for the last fourteen years that reads: You do not build a business, you build an organization, and the organization builds the business. I should probably update it to say: You do not build a business or an organization, you help grow leaders that build an organization that builds a business. Thank you DDA leaders, one and all.