By Nigel Risner

Are leaders “born” or can anyone learn to be a leader?

The best leadership training for potential leaders should be the best training about leadership – what is entailed in being a leader and what can go wrong, as well as what can go right.

1. Leaders are persons who, by word and/or personal example, markedly influence the behaviours, thoughts and/or feelings of a significant number of their fellow beings, followers or audience. The leaders’ voices affect their worlds and ultimately our world.

2. The key to leadership is the effective communication of a story. The most fundamental stories fashioned by leaders concern issues of personal and group identity Leaders who presume to bring about major alterations across a significant population must in some way help their followers think through who they are.

3. Leaders embody those stories. They convey their stories by kinds of lives they themselves lead and through example seek to inspire in their followers.

4. The ways in which direct leaders conduct their lives – their embodiments – must be clearly perceptible by those whom they hope to influence. People who do not practice what they preach are hypocrites, and hypocrisy mutes the effectiveness of their stories.

5. A leader is a holder of certain beliefs, attitudes and values and is a practitioner of certain behaviours. It is the responsibility of the leader to help other individuals, determine their personal, social and moral codes. Leaders inspire, in part, because of how they have resolved their own identity issues.

6. The ordinary leader by definition the most common one, simply relates the traditional story of his or her group as effectively as possible. The innovation leader takes a story that has been latent among the members of his or her chosen domain and brings new attention or a fresh twist to the story. The visionary leader actually creates a new story, one not known to most individuals before, and achieves at least a measure of success in conveying this story effectively to others. Moses, Confucius, Jesus, Buddha,Mohammed were certainly this type of leader. Ghandi and Monnet were visionary leaders for our time.

7. The arena in which leadership occurs is the human mind. The leader who would succeed then, is the one who best senses and delivers what an audience already desires. The leader is the one who most keenly senses the wishes of a potential audience.

8. Most leaders have gifts in the realm of personal intelligence. Nearly all are eloquent in voice, and many are eloquent in writing as well. They have a promising story and tell it persuasively. A generous degree of linguistic intelligence – the capacity to use words well, is the markings of an effective communicator, and perhaps, a promising leader. Leaders have mastery of storytelling.

9. A leader is never fully realised. The relationship between the leader and the followers is typically ongoing, active and dynamic, one of community. The leader must know her mind, including her own changing thoughts, values and strategies.

10. Leadership is never guaranteed; it must always be renewed. Leaders succeed, fail, return and recover, often many times in the course of a career.

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