March 13, 2008 Terkel

This weekend myself and two other members of the Pursue the Passion tour will be attending Jobing’s leadership retreat, “Leading You”. I have been able to learn very little about the nature of the training from my coworkers who seem to have been sworn to secrecy. I think it’s pretty clear we’re being taken to Vegas to be taught how to count cards. We will then be sent out to earn the bulk of Jobing’s revenue at the table.

Just in case I’m wrong, I’ve been trying to imagine what leadership training would entail. It initially strikes me as counter-intuitive that you can be taught to be a leader. Wouldn’t the nature of that role require you to blaze the trail yourself, choosing the direction and establishing the boundaries based on personal benchmarks and beliefs?

At the same time, on our trip those we interviewed repeatedly stressed the importance of good mentors. It helps to have someone you can look to for advice and example, not just learning the specifics of your job but the dynamics of a broader skill set that will ensure your success.

The conclusion I’ve come to going into my own leadership training is that there is value in teaching leadership skills. The practices and distinctions that allow you to set the standard as opposed to living the standard are part of a broader learned skill set. However, there is clearly an innate capacity for leadership that some possess and some don’t. While you can teach individuals to lead, you cannot teach all individuals to lead.

Maybe the most important thing to realize is that each of us has a certain capacity for leadership and achieving that simply requires flawless execution of our role at that level. Not all of us want to, or can, be the star. Some of us are role players exhibiting eccentric strengths. Vitally important, but tilted towards a certain end of the spectrum. The hard part is identifying what those strengths are and playing up to those, rather than far more numerous weaknesses.