Anyone Can Learn to Lead
Stop saying, “I’m just not good at that.” If you aren’t good at leadership, learn to lead. Don’t cower behind, “I’m not wired that way.”
Learn to lead from the genetic platform you were given. Wiring isn’t an excuse for apathy, incompetence, or careless mistakes.
A person of average intelligence can learn to lead, regardless of genetic wiring.
Extroverts learn to listen.
Introverts learn to give presentations.
Tender hearts learn to have tough conversations.
Genetic wiring is a starting point, not a cap on potential.
Learn to lead – you’re not a dog:
Pavlov controlled dogs’ saliva by associating a clicking metronome to the arrival of food. Eventually dogs salivated when they heard the metronome, even when food was absent. Yes, people can be conditioned to respond in specific ways. But people aren’t dogs.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Attribution uncertain.
Genetic wiring doesn’t erase personal responsibility. Hot-tempered people can’t say, “I was born with a short fuse.” Control your responses.
Learn to lead – take responsibility:
Our focus on genetic wiring and personality assessments is becoming justification for irresponsibility. People say, “I’m not responsible. That’s the way I’m wired.” I say, “Bull crap.”
Stop acting like Pavlov’s dogs. Life is a combination of genetics, environment, and volition. You can’t control genetics. You can influence environments. You control decisions.
Don’t blame genetic wiring or environments for poor performance. Leaders take responsibility for themselves.
You can’t go far when genetic wiring validates incompetence.
Worry about things you can control.
Accept things you can’t.
Live beyond your wiring.
Introverts can learn to speak up. Extroverts can learn to shut up, for example.
What uncomfortable skills have you learned that strengthen your leadership?
The Best Leaders Know 3 Things Average Leaders Don’t
How to Navigate the Gap Between Responsibility and Ability
Taking Responsibility Is the Highest Mark of Great Leaders
I believe it may have been Stephen Covey in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People who coined the quote about the space between stimulus and response.😀
Covey said he found the quote, but later, when he tried to find the book where it was, the library had been torn down.
Quote investigator suggests the best attribution is Rollo May. https://quoteinvestigator.com/2018/02/18/response/
Very good piece here, Dan. This is very, very accurate. I think some people say “I’m not genetically programmed to lead” because “I can see no advantage to me whatsoever taking a position leading these people” can sound offensive.
Thanks Mitch. It feels degrading in both directions. We degrade ourselves and others when we say things like that.
Dan, the physical and mental toll of leading often just simply doesn’t stack up, but again, saying you’re not programmed to lead is more acceptable than pointing out that leadership positions can be a borderline toxic environment.
You can learn the skills and techniques to be a leader but leading also requires courage, confidence, and conviction to speak up and take action in difficult situations. There are times when you must give candid feedback, bring up the elephant if the room, stand alone when necessary, and fire underperforming people. Many people don’t want that responsibility.
Being a leader isn’t all happy talk and fun moments. Many people don’t want to put themselves in positions where they are criticized, put down, and rejected for what they say and do. Some people don’t want the responsibility of making the really hard decisions.
We have to begin with desire to lead. If you don’t desire it, with the good and bad, learning to lead isn’t worth it. I believe qualities like courage can also be learned.
Thanks for regularly sharing your insights.
Hi Dan – The quote is from a book called, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankel. It is one of the books I have my yoga students read, and that is one of the most famous quotes from the book. Have a great day!
Interesting, I’ve read man’s search for meaning. I better go back and confirm. I have good confidence in quoteinvestigator.com and they’re saying Rollo May. BTW, I am reading one of May’s books. I can see him saying something like that.
Hi Tonya. I, too, remember this from “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. It made quite the impression on me. In college I wrote it down and put it on a sticky note on my wall.
I love this thought that our genetic loading doesn’t confine us in an iron cage. The study of epigenetics fascinates me with the finding that there are a range of determinants that can pull the trigger!
(First time I saw that powerful quote it was attributed to Frankl. I too immediately wrote it down!)
Somewhere between “Sorry, I’m not wired that way,” and “I can do anything I put my mind to” lies reality. You don’t know until you go.
(I thought the quote was from Frankl, and I’m glad to learn about May)>
Good point on the importance of, “you don’t know nail you go.” To often, we want certainty before we step out. That’s self-defeating.
Lots of people say the quote is in Man’s Search for Meaning,by Frankl. I haven’t found it. But I’m currently reading Rollo May and he says things about the gap between stimulus and response. But I haven’t seen the exact quote yet.