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Can Leadership Be Learned

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Can Leadership Be Learned?
The principles of leadership remain constant; it's how leadership is put into practice that keeps getting smarter.
BY Mark Sarner | 12-19-2007

Can leadership be taught? The answer is simple. Yes, leadership, like all skills, can be taught. The literature is clear on the essential components, styles, and dynamics. Educational materials and programs abound.
But can leadership be learned? The answer to that question isn't obvious. It seems that leadership, one of the scarcest and least enduring components of human capital, is not learned easily or well.
First things first. What is leadership anyway? According to Al Gini, a lecturer at Loyola University in Chicago, leadership is a
"power- and value-laden relationship between leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes and goals." In plainer language, leadership is the dynamic that galvanizes individuals into groups to make things different or to make things better -- for themselves, for their enterprise, for the world around them.
The "Great Man Theory" of human history focused our attention solely on the ideas espoused, the actions taken, and the outcomes generated by people in positions of power. Today, ideas and assessments of leadership are more democratic.
Leadership itself is a collaborative function; the leader and the led are seen as in a potentially symbiotic and synergistic relationship. And power and impact are a function of that relationship rather than of a position.
Much of leadership education is devoted to teaching style and technique. Much of what is taught is, in fact, not leadership at all but management. It is entirely possible to learn and even to put into practice what is taught and still fail at being a good leader.
The essential components of leadership have remained more or less constant: intelligence, insight, instinct, vision,...

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