Thursday, September 22, 2011

Are Leaders Born or Made?

This question is one that I have frequently discussed with people--how can you teach the kind of leadership attributes that you find in people like Lincoln, Gandhi, King, Mandela, or others who have truly been able to inspire and move people?   Some people would claim that they are born with those attributes....and although I would say that people are born with some tendencies, I would not say that they were necessarily born to be leaders.   My belief is that everyone one of these individuals went through a significant transformational experience in their lives at some point that profoundly impacted their view on life and and the world.  Only through this deep personal growth is one able to exhibit the kind of wisdom, selflessness, courage and calm to lead people through challenging periods. For example, King, Gandhi and Mandela all spent varying but significant time in prisons early in their "careers" as leaders of their movements (Mandela obviously much more than the other two).   For people who knowingly put themselves in these positions, these provided unique opportunities for reflection as indicated by some of the writings that came out of their times spent while incarcerated. 

For each of us the opportunities will probably not be as dramatic, but in spite of whatever we may learn in the classroom, our ability to lead others is directly proportional to our willingness to experience personal growth outside of the classroom--not just when it is thrust upon us, but to actively seek it out in the context of our daily lives.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Creativity and Innovation--the Base of Knowledge

Everyone loves to be creative, and we all have often said to ourselves "How did they think of that?" when we marvel at the end result of the creativity of others.   One large part of creativity that we often forget, however, is the need to have a base of knowledge in the area where we want to be creative.  Einstein was able to develop the theory of relativity  because of his extensive knowledge of mathematics and physics.   If you see an elite athlete--for example Barcelona's Lionel Messi--he is able to do incredible things on the soccer field.  But he has also played for thousands and thousands of hours since the age of 4.   Books like the Talent Code or Outliers both talk about the rule of "deep practice" or 10,000 hours--these are all reminders that if we want to experience the creative jumps, it is our responsibility to immerse ourselves in the subject matter area that we want to master.  This will mean mistakes, but we will have an opportunity to make a correction, and improve.  When we have started down this path, some of the different tools that I will discuss in our next few blogs (mind mapping, visualization, dream state programming) all become available to us in order to make these quantum leaps we desire.