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Can You Learn Leadership Skills?

Can you learn leadership skills?

Just because you can learn leadership, doesn’t mean you will. Understand the 3 myths that get in the way of effective leadership training.


Can you learn leadership skills? 


It is a question that lingers in every aspiring professional as they browse through courses that offer the promise of transforming them into leaders. 


The quick answer is yes, of course, anyone can learn the skills to confront the complex challenges of leadership. But just because you can learn it, doesn’t mean you will and do it successfully.  


And so, the more important follow-up question is – “what is the best way to learn leadership?” Many aspiring leaders have false assumptions that get in the way of effective learning. Let’s dispel these myths once and for all and reveal the fundamental truths to get you started on a clear path to learning leadership. 



Myth # 1 Leadership is best learned by occupying a senior management role

If leadership is learned by virtue of being a senior manager, does this mean then that all senior managers are leaders? Look at your own boss and other executives in your organisation. Are they all leaders you can trust and learn from? Are there people in your company who are not senior managers but act like leaders? It’s logical to assume then that becoming a senior manager is not a pre-requisite to learning leadership. 


Myth # 2 Leadership is best learned by having a mentor 

Certainly, there is value to be gained from the educated advice, case studies and personal stories of those who have led and studied leadership. The experience and expertise of mentors and role models are helpful but mostly in theory and seldom in practice. Mentorship alone, however great, a leader does not make. 



Myth # 3 Leadership is best learned by getting an MBA 

An MBA is valuable for acquiring the tools to make sense of the complexities and challenges of modern business. But will it teach you how to be a leader? Not necessarily. There are many successful business leaders from senior managers to CEOs who do not have an MBA, so it’s not critical to learning effective leadership. 


So, what is the best way to learn leadership? 

As with any discipline, the best way to learn is by doing. Learn leadership by doing the hard work in the trenches – by following and leading at the same time. You may not be aware of this, but if you are like most busy professionals who belong to a team of at least 2 people, you are already spending more time leading than learning.


When your job is so fast-paced and high-pressure, you don’t have the time to process the leadership lessons from your daily experience. And this is where leadership training can help you.


According to research, stepping out of your normal work routine to join other professionals in training – people with different perspectives and values to offer – helps you think critically and learn more deeply about your own leadership experience.


Taking ownership of your leadership-development through training helps you build the competence to lead authentically and effectively. Whatever qualifications or credentials a teacher or an MBA program may have, no one has more insight into your leadership ambition than you.


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