Leadership growth and development involve identifying and mastering the essential skills and traits needed to become a successful leader. You can fast-track your career in business or employment by having leadership skills and traits. Your personal life will also be affected by your leadership qualities. In this series of interviews, we ask top leaders what they had to say about whether leadership skills and traits can be learned and what skills and traits are impossible to learn.
The question we asked them was – Can you learn certain leadership skills and traits? What leadership skills and traits do you think cannot be learned?
Here’s what they had to say
Title: Founder & CEO
Company: We Buy Houses in Kentucky
I think that while some things could be taught to leaders, there were some things they could never learn. In contrast to other abilities, intelligence is a biological trait that cannot be taught. You acquire characteristics from your parents and grandparents when you are born. Although intellect is not a need for leadership, it does help because it is the main factor in decision-making. Like IQ, emotional quotient is also inherited. As genes can change chemical messengers like serotonin and dopamine, which have a substantial impact on personality traits, a significant percentage of what affects your personality is inherited. Some experts even claim that almost 40% of our personality traits are genetically predisposed, rendering E.Q. incapable of being taught.
One leadership skill that I think cannot be learned (at least without a significant effort) is resourcefulness. Some people are just naturally more resourceful than others, and this skill is crucial to being a successful leader.
I believe leadership traits can be learned by most professionals, but some people are more adept at implementing them than others. I believe that grace of authority is one of the hardest traits to learn, and really has its basis in one’s overall personality.
Title: VP of Operations
Company: Michael & Associates
The key to learning leadership skills is practice. If you’re someone who is interested in being a good leader, it’s time to take the initiative. The people who make good leaders tend to be the same people who reach out to their friends to chat or to arrange gatherings. They’re the ones who are going to coordinate, to connect, and to organize. If you want to build your leadership skills for your professional life, start by building them in your personal life. If your friends and family can rely on you to make things happen, bring people together, and facilitate communication, then your employers will too.
Title: Founder and CEO
While there are born leaders, you can also teach leadership skills. Instead of learning in a classroom setting though, the best way to become an effective leader is to lead. Start with a small team and then work your way up from there. If you’re in an entry level position, show your manager that you’re responsible, a team player, and are good at taking initiative.
From there you could become an assistant manager where you might oversee a small portion of your team. Or, your manager may give you some of their responsibilities to get your feet wet. The point is that yes, you can learn to become a leader with on-the-job training.
Title: Owner at Biking Knowhow
Company: Biking Knowhow
I am a marketing consultant and an established entrepreneur. I run a successful Niche website called Biking Know How. I want to share some essential skills that will help one be a successful leader. In my opinion, the three keys to be a successful leader and run a successful business are as follows,
Learn to be disciplined: I run a small online business which I started running as a single person. I must confess, as a beginner, I wasn’t very disciplined. Due to this, it took me a long time to build and grow my online business. Fortunately, I got mentored by remarkable people, which helped me get disciplined at running my online business. This eventually resulted in the decent success that I am having right now.
Build Enough Resilience: I follow two very famous mantras or quotes: “Screw it, let’s do it- By Sir Richard Branson” and “Just do it- This slogan is from Nike.” When I started with my online business venture, many naysayers told me that I was not doing the right thing. But in response, I decided to focus on my passion and my journey and growth. Fear of failure stops us most often from taking the first step. Build resilience, take a leap of faith, trust that your business idea will work. As I was building my business, I knew that I would face roadblocks. I did not let those stop my progress. I was flexible to pivot if needed.
Have immense patience: This is perhaps the essential quality. Building a business is not easy and requires a lot of patience. It is vital to be absolutely patient to build a sustainable long-term business.
People may count on you if you are a dependable leader. A dependable person completes tasks and keeps promises. The solid bonds that a dependable leader forges enable a team to overcome challenges as they may emerge. Meeting deadlines, being honest, keeping your word, and having a backup plan when you can’t fulfil a promise or aim are all characteristics of a dependable professional.
Title: Head of Marketing
Effective leaders are adept at resolving problems that develop in the workplace. Remaining composed and coming up with a step-by-step solution are frequently necessary for effective problem-solving. A leader’s ability to solve problems can help them make quick judgments, overcome challenges with both their internal team and external teams, and guarantee that projects are finished on schedule and to the specifications.
Title: Head of Content
Company: Believe Money
The definition of integrity is frequently limited to truthfulness or honesty, but it frequently also refers to having and upholding a set of core principles. Making moral decisions and supporting the organization in maintaining a favorable reputation are frequent examples of having integrity in the workplace. All companies look for candidates that possess a strong sense of ethics. Being a leader with integrity not only promotes the most honest and just outcome but also sets a good example for your team.
Title: Content Executive
Company: Scooter Guide
Leaders who can act fast with the knowledge at hand are more effective. Making good decisions requires practice and experience. You’ll be able to make judgments more quickly as you get more knowledgeable about your particular business, even if you don’t have all the information you need. Being decisive is regarded as an important leadership trait because it can expedite tasks and increase productivity. Research, analysis, problem-solving, and goal-setting are necessary for effective decisiveness, typically with a short turnaround. The ability to draw from prior experience with similar jobs, assess what could work best, make a decision, and be confident in accepting responsibility for the outcome should be a need for decision-makers.
Title: CEO and Founder
Company: Ellen H. Cibula, Inc.
Anyone can learn leadership skills and traits, but it takes dedication and a willingness to change. Leaders are made, not born. While some people may have a natural inclination towards leadership, everyone has the potential to develop these skills. You must be willing to make changes and do the work required to be a leader. Leadership requires confidence, discipline, decisiveness, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. These are all things that can be learned through practice and experience. If you are not naturally confident or decisive, you can learn to fake it until you make it. Eventually, these habits will become matter-of-course. Similarly, if you find it difficult to motivate others, try looking for inspiration yourself. When you are passionate about something, it is easier to get others on board.
However, to be a truly effective leader, you need to have the right temperament and personality traits. These cannot be learned from a book or a course; they are simply part of who you are. Without making a strong commitment to making changes required to be a strong leader, you may never be able to achieve true success. It must come from within; anyone can make the required changes, but you must be committed to the change.
The bottom line is that anyone can learn to be a leader, but it takes effort and determination. So if you want to develop your leadership skills, start by making a commitment to yourself. Then take small steps every day to improve your abilities. With time and practice, you’ll be surprised at how far you can go.
Company: Harmony Home Buyer
According to recent scientific studies, leadership is 30% inherited and 70% acquired. According to these studies, leaders are created, not born. In the end, the truth is that both are true: a person might be born with inherent leadership skills, and a person can pick up these skills via experience.
Leadership involves a variety of skills that can be developed with practice. Not everything is based on inherited personality traits. Even the most successful leaders you can imagine didn’t start out with these polished abilities.
Title: Founder, CEO
Company: Mortgage Relief
If I could have a chance to share my sentiments about leadership skills and traits that cannot be learned, skills or traits like selflessness, common sense, initiative, independence, and patience must be on that list.
It is because I know those skills and traits pass genetically or must come naturally from an individual. It also requires practice, honing, and enough experience to identify and develop those for our usage, which we cannot mold from books and even training.
Title: Founder / Content Writer
Company: Soul Factors
I’d say leadership can be learned through experiences in the early teenage years. For instance, in the academe, when you’re appointed as a leader of the group for a task, it then improves your self-esteem when carrying out communication work. The child, as he grows older, will then learn that he has a passion for leadership and helping in bringing out the best in people’s lives. Hence, such a passion has been molded throughout time. Albeit to some, it’s like a lightning-out-of-a-jar moment, but to most, their childhood has played an imperative role in molding the leadership skills they have now.
Title: CEO and Founder
Company: Urban Dare
Leadership skills are learnable skills. It’s not a debate limited to nature vs. nurture. There is much more to leadership. Anyone willing to learn, unlearn and relearn old habits can become a good leader. It starts with your dedication to practice. You need to hone your skills and leverage them to your advantage.
What leadership skills and traits do you think cannot be learned?
A risk-taking attitude isn’t something one can learn. It’s more of an innate trait. A leader is someone who dares to go against the flow. That’s how they make a mark in the world.
Company: Accessibility Checker
Through time and perseveranceI’d say leadership skills like communication prowess, people management, and call-to-action agenda building, are all learnable but requires full-blown attention to grow. They can be learned if you are teachable, meaning that you bring down any boundaries to establish more pathways for leadership. In addition, having a thicker skin to criticism would help you a lot in handling issues among your subordinates. Think of leadership skills as plants that grow as you water them and move their pots to direct sunlight.
Title: Co-Founder and Marketing Director
Definitely yes! Leadership skills can be learned because leaders are made, not born. All individuals have the potential to become a leader, because leadership is something you can acquire, work on, and develop. While most leadership skills can be taught and learned, I believe initiative and confidence can’t be. These are two things that need to come from within and are not transferrable skills. With the right amount of mentoring, perseverance, and hard work, anyone can become a leader.
Title: Nutritionist/ Blogger
Yes, I think that people can learn leadership skills and traits. This is because we grow as people and learn new things constantly. Leadership skills are the result of a person’s passions, which is something that cannot be taught. In the business world, leadership skills are not just things that are learned in the office but also things that are learned on the job. They are realized by watching others do their job and figuring out an effective way to do it. There’s no shortage of people that want to learn new skills and grow their business. Follow the excellent leader in your life and pick up their skills.
You can acquire various leadership abilities and characteristics, albeit some may be more difficult to acquire. Some skills and qualities that cannot be learned are innate, like charisma, and intrinsic, like kindness. The abilities and characteristics ingrained in culture cannot all be learnt.
Can you learn certain leadership skills and traits?
Some people are naturally born leaders and some people became one after learning and practicing the right way of leadership. What I’m trying to say here is that leadership traits and skills can be learned either through proper training, mentoring, the story of an experienced person, books, and a lot more, but the bottom line is that constantly practicing this leadership skill set will always be the best way to learn and understand things.
What leadership skills and traits do you think cannot be learned?
Some skills and traits should be infused within a person the day they were born to be an effective leader, and this could be enhanced further for development. Personally, being understanding and showing empathy towards other people cannot be learned to some extent, it’s an underlying quality that everyone has the capability to practice, it’s just a matter of choice.
While some people are born with natural abilities to lead, everyone can be an effective leader as long as they work hard to learn and develop essential leadership qualities.
You may not be considered an ideal leader at first, but you can be a great one if you put your heart into it and with continuous practice and training. Whether hard or soft skills, various ways can help you improve yourself and your ability to lead.
Company: Her Norm
I can say one may undoubtedly gain leadership qualities and talents. Not all leaders are born with the ability to communicate effectively, analyze critically, and strategize. Each person develops new skills over time and via experience. Today, everyone may learn leadership abilities, especially with the abundance of technological tools available.
However, I do know that empathy is a leadership skill that must be developed internally and is not something that is easily learned.
Title: CEO and Founder
Company: Watches of Today
All leadership skills can be learned through strong will and determination. However, it’s this determination that is often innate within individuals and those that don’t have a strong sense of motivation to achieve will struggle to become great leaders. It’s simple enough to learn and practice organizing and managing a team as well as the various responsibilities that come with these roles, it’s much more difficult to learn these skills if you struggle to pick yourself back up when you’ve been knocked down. The strongest leaders know how to bring themselves back from failure and will continue to do so until they are experts at leadership.
Title: VP of Growth
Remote work brings endless opportunities for people to demonstrate leadership skills. Working outside the office requires a great deal of autonomy. Employees must self-direct, having control over how, when, and where to conduct their tasks. And they must also initiate conversations and collaboration when needed. Allowing team members to have agency over their day-to-day work allows them to learn and develop leadership skills in their role while showing your trust in them. But frequent feedback loops are essential to help and guide remote employees in their professional development.
Title: Co-founder and CEO
We believe everyone has leadership traits they can demonstrate when allowed an opportunity to do so. This is why we provide new hires with fluid job descriptions. They start with a pro tempore area where they receive three months of initial training. We aim to use those first few months to discover what somebody is really good at. Then we work together to write personalized job descriptions centered around their strengths.
By not cementing roles & responsibilities at the outset, we’re enabling team members to cross over into various functions where they can take on and lead projects that interest them, encouraging them to make decisions independently.
Title: Brand Manager
Company: RTA Outdoor Living
We all possess various leadership skills. However, imposter syndrome prevents many people from having the confidence and courage to step up and take charge, give direction, and make decisions. In the book, Own Your Everyday, Jordan Lee Dooley writes, “Stop focusing on what you don’t know or don’t have and start focusing on what you do know right now.” This is terrific advice for finding confidence in your strengths and taking on greater responsibilities in your current role to hone other leadership skills rather than waiting until you’re “ready.”
Title: Business Owner
Company: Tidy Casa
Some people are born leaders, others gradually imbibe the quality over time. It is possible to become a great leader by sticking to the 3 Ps of leadership. Persistence, purpose, and passion. Elaborate leadership training to connect, understand and lead people is something that sharpens the existing attributes of an individual to highlight what wonders they can do by taking the front row action. Naturally born leaders know what trajectory to follow to welcome greatness from the start. They attempt to think differently while acting on instinct. They always have an edge when it comes to a comparison between them and someone who is still in the nascency of their leadership training. However, I would assert that, similar to any other skill, leadership can be mastered with dedication.
Company: Subtl Beauty
A great leader should always be learning new skills. There are absolutely some people who are born with natural charisma or who have the confidence and drive to take a leadership position, but those traits are not always enough to make a great leader. In any business, the best leaders are the ones who never stop trying to teach themselves new skills or work on their traits. You have to mold your leadership style to the people you oversee and figure out what strategies work best to help them succeed. Public speaking, logical thinking, empathy — all these sorts of things can be practiced. What makes a great leader is the willingness to.
I believe that most people can learn leadership skills, but the timeline is gradual compared to individuals who naturally obtain those traits.
We see examples of this in the workplace frequently. There are employees who initially don’t mind blending in and not having the additional responsibilities as a leader. As their career or tenure with the company progresses, they can begin to develop those leadership qualities. This may be a result of their growing confidence of their strengths, and now they take the initiative to lead others.
Also, the influence of leaders can subconsciously motivate subordinates to become future leaders. People are like sponges, so they have the ability to soak up a lot of information over time. By observing a leader that they’ve built a good relationship with, it’s not uncommon to inherit some of those traits. Sometimes it takes a leader to inspire another individual to become one.
Life is an ever-evolving journey that we continually adapt to and learn from, which means if we look at the process of acquiring and using new skills, logically the traits, ideas and qualities need for leadership, can be mastered by anyone who is determined enough to add them to their personal and professional arsenals. But like any skill that we pick up, practice makes perfect and in order to become an effective and efficient leader, you need to constantly work at and flex the leadership muscles that you’ve built, and picked up.
Both arguments have merit, in my opinion. For someone to become a leader, they must possess various abilities. Some of these are intrinsic, while others are frequently learnable and developable through experience or training. One may have a higher chance of becoming a leader in the future if they are determined and fearless. However, you need more than a strong personality to be an effective leader. It also calls for self-development and learning specific skills so that others will view you as competent enough to follow. Skills like decision-making and effective communication, for instance, can be learned through training and repetition. Overall, some individuals are more naturally gifted as leaders than others. These individuals exhibit particular characteristics, like charisma and tenacity. However, it is not a guarantee that they will lead well. Effective leadership is influenced by many additional factors, many of which must be learned because they are not intrinsic in a person. Through training and experience, one can learn skills like culture formation, sales prowess, dispute resolution, and strategic thinking. All of which are vital skills for an effective leader.
Company: Prestige Homebuyers
While there are people who learn leading through experience, which develops expertise to become a leader, each person has the potential to create the right mindset and state of mind and learn how to be a good leader. However, some skills and traits cannot be learned since they are innate, such as being flexible to adversity, being emphatic, courageous, a risk taker, a people person, and more.
Title: Marketing Director
Yes and no. You can learn the theory, but the one thing that can’t be taught or learned that all good leaders have in common is charisma. You either have it or you don’t, and if you don’t possess any natural charisma, you can spend years reading every “How To” guide on leadership in the world but you’ll never become the kind of leader you want to be. If you don’t have that indefinable “it” that makes people want to follow, and listen to, you and aren’t charismatic, then it doesn’t matter how hard you try, you’ll never be a leader…
Title: Leadership Coach & Founder
Company: Agile Leadership Journey
Individuals have the ability to learn individual leadership skills, however, leadership development involves much more than skill building. We believe (and research supports) that leaders have the capacity to grow through stages to improve their effectiveness, that leadership can be developed, and that everyone, regardless of role or title, can demonstrate more effective leadership.
Effective leadership is often viewed as being clear and, decisive – action-oriented. And while that is important, the actions leaders take are always based on a set of choices available to them. The only choices they are able to consider are the ones that they are made aware of. Awareness precedes choice; choice precedes change. Thus, the most important “skill” for a leader to master is awareness because awareness is the root of the chain toward more clarity and effective decision-making and action-taking.