The Myth of the Natural Leader

The best managers are people—natural or not—who learn proven techniques, practice those techniques diligently until they become skills, and continue practicing them until they become habits.

There is a widespread myth that some people are natural leaders and, therefore, the best managers, whereas others are not natural leaders and are destined to be not-so-great managers.

What is the reality? The best managers are people—natural or not—who learn proven techniques, practice those techniques diligently until they become skills, and continue practicing them until they become habits.

Is there such a thing as natural leadership ability? Of course. Some people are visionary, charismatic, articulate, filled with ideas, and unusually energetic. People want to follow them. But that doesn’t necessarily make them good managers. More often, these great leaders succeed precisely when they are smart enough to hire great managers and let them do the crucial management part of leadership.

I use the term, “management,” precisely to focus on the more mundane—but absolutely crucial—aspects of leadership: providing direction and guidance, holding people accountable, dealing with failure, and rewarding success. These are the elements that are by far the most important when it comes to getting more work and better work out of employees and helping them earn more of what they need. I’ve learned from training tens of thousands of individuals that almost anyone can become a much better manager. How? Learn proven techniques. Then practice, practice, practice those techniques until they become skills and ultimately habits.

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