Research shows that in the U.S., most CEOs are tall, old, white men. But it doesn’t necessarily mean to be a leader you have to be a tall, old white man.
Everybody, I believe, can be trained to be a leader. You are not born with it. You’re not not born with it either. The intent of this is to get people to move forward, to provide them some tools so they can move from supervision and management — the management of things — to being a leader, leading people. I believe that over a period of time that everybody can be trained to lead.
Managers are usually positional. They have a position of “authority.” Other people report to them. That’s the easiest definition.
What we tend to do in organizations is as we grow, people get promoted from a worker to a supervisor to a manager to an executive. Not a lot of people figure out that you’ve got to be a leader too. You can be a leader as a supervisor. Maybe that’s a point of clarification. Leadership is about behaviors.
Leadership to me is not a hierarchical by organizational structure position. It’s not necessarily the top person. You can be a leader anywhere in the organization and you can develop people anywhere in the organization. Your focus in a large organization might have to be on shorter term and may have to be on accomplishing things. But you can still practice and learn a lot of leadership behaviors.
In order to lead, you have to have different behaviors. I’ve got organizations I’ve worked with where the CEO was a manager. He was behaving as a manager — short-term focus, providing all the answers. He got his ego involved in it and to a certain degree, selfish behaviors.
But it is those very people who I am successfully moving to leadership one step at a time by teaching them the very things that leadership is about. Leadership is a skill that can be taught.