Leadership can be learned

Over the years, I have had ample opportunity to observe leaders in their roles. Whether it was a sports team, FFA students, or working with business groups conducting strategic planning, certain qualities are common among those in leadership roles.

A good leader knows how to surround themselves with others that complement their skill set and personality. One way to assess the personality traits of a team is by using the DiSC personality assessment. This assessment indicates behavioral differences in how we respond to conflict, what motivates us, what causes us stress, and how we solve problems. While our personalities are a blend of many traits, the assessment divides traits into four categories. One category, often observed amongst board members, CEOs, and successful business people, is the “D” personality type. These leaders are result driven, dominant personalities. However, just having this personality characteristic is not enough to guarantee success. Good leaders must recognize their shortfalls and identify those around them that can support them in their endeavors.

For example, a leader with a “D” type personality will often have detail-oriented (“C” type) or stable (“S” type) individuals surrounding and supporting them. Without a doubt, this, and other personality assessments, can be a good learning tool that can make an effective leader even more productive.

While some people are born with certain leadership skills, others will be in environments and situations where leadership principles are developed over time. An individual's experiences are integrated into other situations, which often takes a business or the leader to the next level. This is called the compounding effect. In recent years, I observed an individual who served on two boards and also was a dairy farmer. In the beginning, this individual was shy and reserved. Through different board responsibilities with each organization, it was amazing to see how this individual blossomed. He developed into a true leader, not only in his role as a board member, but as dairy farmer and a family and community member.

Leadership is learnable! Many leaders are passionate about their endeavors. Over the years, I have enjoyed watching Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Many, including former coaches at Virginia Tech, indicated that he would never make it at the next level because he was undersized. He has become a quiet leader of a team that has set historic records at the top level of basketball through hard work, being coachable, and leading a principled lifestyle on and off the court. One attribute that he demonstrates, along with other leaders, is that he never forgot where he came from. Regardless of their experiences, leaders recognize how fortunate they were to make people’s lives and situations better.

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