Teaching Leadership LO6537

John Woods (jwoods@execpc.com)
Tue, 9 Apr 1996 08:07:50 -0500 (CDT)

Rose Wentz asks in LO6524:
>I want
>to know how does one help to create leaders in an organization. In my
>organization I am responsible to develop a model of supervision/management
>that describes how supervisors can be leaders and encourage everyone to be
>leaders. I am also to develop training that teaches them how to do this.
>So much of what I read (such as these list of leadership traits) is in the
>ideal world. I believe people can be taught skills that will support the
>development of these traits. What is your experience in making this
>concrete and pratical?

Here's what I think Rose. If you were study the books on leadership, you
will find that they all stress such characteristics as being charismatic,
having a strong sense of direction, being able to influence others because
they have confidence in you and you instill a sense of confidence in them.
As has been pointed out by me and others, these are very admirable
characteristics. Yet, are people born with such abilities and
characteristics or can they be learned? There is no definitive answer to
that question, but I think it's possible to enhance the leadership ability
of the people you're concerned with.

I deeply believe the way you do that is by teaching and making the systems
view the foundation of your organization. This view emphasizes that
individual success depends on the success of the whole. It naturally
suggests that the role of the supervisor and manager is to facilitate the
success of those who they work with and for (yes for). The systems view
naturally suggests that teamwork makes the most sense (and getting people
to work together as teammates, real teammates, is yet another trait of a
leader). A leader does not ask what decision can I make that is going to
make me look good or minimize the possibility that I will get in trouble?
A leader asks how can I work with others to make our operations perform
better and better serve our customers (internal and external)? Such a
question as this naturally emerges from the systems view. It does not
emerge from the hierarchical view of organizations. So how you can expect
to create leaders with this view as the backdrop for your efforts? My
answer is that you can't.

Once managers and supervisors are instilled with the systems view and
truly believe it (and for that to happen top management must truly believe
it), then the specific skills that emerge from that view will not be
difficult to teach and for people to adopt. If you don't take the systems
view, then you can train people in leadership skills till the doom's day,
and it won't do much good. Leadership requires taking a holistic view of
life and the organization. It requires that people understand that their
welfare is tied to the welfare of those that they lead and serve. It is
an attitude as much as a set of skills. People develop attitudes as a
result of their experience not training. But once they have the
"leadership" attitude, an attitude consistent with the systems view, then
the skills can be acquired much more easily.

Does this help? I hope so.

John Woods
CWL Publishing
Writer, Speaker, Consultant


jwoods@execpc.com (John Woods)

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