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Why Leadership Courses Don’t Work July 15, 2009

Posted by Kevin Burns in attitude, attitude adjustment, attitude expert, attitude of leadership, kevin burns, keynote speaker, leadership, leadership course.

Question: What is the difference between a natural leader and a trained leader and who would you want on your team?

Answer: I’m not sure why so many people think that somehow leadership is exclusive to business. It is not. A parent is as much a leader as a CEO – and in most instances, I would bet a better one. Leadership is not the result of attaining a title or taking a class or reading a book. That’s simply a “management” course falsely re-branded. You don’t train leaders. No one can be taught to become a real leader in a few-day course. They can be more effective, sure. Maybe more communicative, more accommodating, more decisive but that just a tiny sliver of what comprises a leader. To become a real leader would require a life-long commitment to continually improving and self-examining with nothing being off-limits.

There are no “irrefutable laws” to leadership either because leadership is not tangible. It’s not something you can hold in your hand and it’s not something that you become by blindly following someone else’s 21 laws. Leaders know that everything can be questioned. Nothing is irrefutable including the leader themselves.

Sometimes managers have leadership abilities but it is NOT a prerequisite for the job. Leadership is an attitude. Management is a position. The office whiner can be a stronger leader than his supervisor if more people follow the whiner. Would you want that kind of strong natural leader on your team? Osama Bin Laden is a natural leader. Would you want him on your team? David Koresh possessed all natural leadership abilities. Would you have wanted him on your team?

Leadership isn’t just positive. Sometimes leadership can be destructive (think about the first person to loot during a riot). That’s leadership too.

Is it leaders you want on your team or good, honest, decent, hard-working, accountable people who are willing to take direction and get the job done more than they are about taking the credit? If your team of 12 was made up of 12 leaders, would anything get done? Each “leader” would expect to lead and expect that others would do what they say. They’d end up never coming to consensus about how to proceed. Think about that for a moment.

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT: We all need to stop throwing around the word “leader” like our organizations are full of them. Corporate America is so devoid of leadership that we’ve become self-anointing – take a course and be called a leader. People who have never led others can open up leadership courses and schools and call themselves experts and charge you money to teach you re-branded management courses. There’s no certification to become a “leadership expert.” So how can anyone claim to make you a leader? They can’t. That’s not leadership and it’s an insult to real leaders to be lumped in with leadership imposters who claim they are leaders just because they finished a course.

Leadership is not exclusive to business and has really nothing to do with business. It’s a fancy buzzword that we throw around when we really, for the most part, couldn’t sum up leadership in a few sentences anyway.

That’s why there are 350,000 books on Leadership on Amazon. There are that many varying opinions on it. That’s why Leadership courses don’t work. No one person has it completely right. If you’re following only one person’s interpretation of what Leadership is, you’re missing the big picture and frankly, you’re not much of a leader because you’re following someone else’s ideas. Leaders lead remember.



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