Contrary to the opinion of many, leaders are not born; they are made. And they are made by hard effort, which is the price we must all pay for success. -Vince Lombardi
We’ve all heard the phrase, “natural born leader” but is there really such a thing? Leadership is a process; it is not given freely. It is a culmination of different experiences, mindsets, and reasons…and the journey towards leadership is often littered with obstacles and challenges. Vince Lombardi, a great leader himself and one of the greatest NFL head coaches of all time, instilled leadership in his players and everyone else that surrounded him. In fact, his timeless leadership principles are taught and applied across multiple industries far outside of the sports world. One of his greatest speeches came just months before his untimely death in 1970, where he said, “Contrary to the opinion of many, leaders are not born; they are made. And they are made by hard effort, which is the price we must all pay for success.”
When this is applied to today’s workforce, it makes the justification for leadership training more apparent. If companies want to see more leaders within their organizations, then they must do their part to help develop them. In the 2021 Global Leadership Forecast, a collaborative report by Development Dimensions International (DDI), The Conference Board, and EY, they surveyed about 1,000 senior-level global leaders who stated that two of their three top concerns were developing next-generation leaders and failing to attract/retain top talent. Leadership skills development is needed throughout organizations from the bottom line up and top leaders are beginning to recognize the value in creating the leaders that their organizations need to thrive.
In many situations, companies have employees that have specific skills and solid work ethic and see them as strong candidates for promotion. What they often fail to see is that being great at certain tasks is one thing but being in a position of leadership is another. Many times, new leaders have difficulty transitioning because they don’t know how to make the vital adjustments, nor do they have the leadership qualities needed to succeed in their roles. The need for leadership skills becomes clear as company structure and culture begins to falter because this new leader doesn’t know what it truly means to be a leader in their position. Strong leaders make better decisions, handle situations more efficiently, and are better motivators, which increases productivity, improves company culture, and keeps employees around longer because they start to recognize their own potential within the organization. But this can only be achieved through the “hard effort,” experience, and education/training/mentoring that is needed to elevate someone to a position of leadership in the first place.
There is no cookie-cutter approach to leadership development. Factors such as workplace situations, personal and professional experiences, and confidence levels all contribute to the effectiveness of any type of leadership training. Sending an introverted employee to an off-site roundtable may not produce the same results as bringing a professional to do on-site training. Conversely, purchasing leadership training software may not benefit your extrovert employee in the same way that sending them to a leadership cohort does. Leadership training is an important component in developing leaders and companies should take a specific and deliberate approach when researching what is most appropriate for their emerging leaders.
Workforce Solutions has been cultivating leaders across various industries for over 20 years. Through our proven leadership development programs, we’ve not only helped to create leaders across the region but have also nurtured these leaders through continuing education and advanced leadership training. Our highly successful program Leadership Institute is entering its 10th year and is consistently attended by both new and seasoned leaders that strive to learn new leadership principles or enhance existing ones. The topics are relevant and cover factors such as leadership styles, transition, coaching, and more. It is a year-long commitment and an invaluable asset to a developing leader’s skillset. Past participants have lauded the impact of the program. So, the next time you take inventory in your company and are looking for that “natural born leader” to emerge, you may not find what you are looking for because as the late, great Vince Lombardi stated, “leaders are not born; they are made.”