Being a leader isn’t that simple

By way of introduction, I just recently published a book entitled Leadership DNA, Why the Accepted Premise That Anyone Can Be a Leader Is Utterly False and the Main Cause of Poor leadership in America.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University in Philadelphia and worked forty plus years, spending time in the military as a US Army officer and in leadership positions with the federal government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, and the Army as well as serving as a human resources director in the Defense Department. I’m now retired and live in Florida. I wrote this book because throughout my career I have witnessed the negative impact poor leadership can have on an organization and the people that work within an organization.

As a former director of human resources for twenty-three years, I was in the perfect position to observe hundreds of individuals in leadership positions and witness firsthand the effects of the popular argument that leaders are made. My own experiences as a leader of 105 employees and my observations of team leaders, supervisors and managers in other organizations have led me to the conclusion that many people are just not cut out to be leaders at any level and that the premise that anyone can be a leader is just plain wrong.

I’m concerned that as a society and as a nation we are suffering from an epidemic of poor leadership. Far too many of our leaders in government, finance and business clearly do not have the level of leadership talent needed to hold critical leadership positions. I believe that it is time to put a spotlight on what I believe is the main cause of this poor leadership in our government, on Wall Street and in our corporations. The root cause of this widespread poor leadership has been and continues to be the result of a multitude of leadership gurus who teach and preach that they can make anyone into a leader provided we all follow their personal formula for success. There are hundreds of leadership books in the marketplace that proclaim to have discovered the leadership elixir-the magical potion that once mixed with the personal desire and commitment of the trainee/believer will mass produce good leaders.

There’s just one problem: they’re wrong.

Leadership DNA disputes this entrenched premise that anyone and everyone can be a good leader and instead, lays out a road map to identify and develop natural born leaders.

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4 Responses to Being a leader isn’t that simple

  1. Anybody from Administrative Assistant to Project Manager can become a leader at work without the Director or C-suite level title. You need to take action for your own life and make things happen for you. Here is an article detailing my thoughts on branding yourself as a leader at work:

    • paulokum says:

      I disagree. Not everybody is born with the talent to be a leader. If you don’t have natural born leadership talent, then it doesn’t matter how many action plans you put together, you will never be a good leader.

  2. I assume you limit your definition to leadership to be in the area of employment, leading teams, departments, businesses, and organizations. If so, you might be right. I need to think on that further.

    However, each individual is leading in some capacity, whether doing a good job at it or not. A spouse must lead. A parent must lead. A team member on his spots team leads at his position. A person even leads at a party with behavior, be it good or bad. Can’t these people in those types of positions learn to lead better in them?

    Also in this discussion enters one’s skils that are attirbuted to their passions, their desires of what they are good at doing. If one loves music, he should find a way to exercise that love. If one loves speaking, he should find a way to exercise that desire. If one has a passion to coach a team, can he pursue that passion, and maybe succeed in time. In any of these cases, skills may be initially weak, but can be improved through practice and learning.

    I do not deny that there is also something within a person where they are destined to lead and they automatically do so. However, they need to learn the dos and don’ts, like my 24 year old son, who I think is destined to lead, but he needs to learn somethings in leading before he can do it well.

    You mention in your radio interview on your web site, the apsect of something in our DNA, thus our lineage, our heritage. I believe that also is part. If one comes from a line of leaders, then, that line may continue to following generations.

    You also mention in your radio interview that God has a part. Indeed he does. He can take anyone he wants and do what he wants, whether we think we are prepared or not for the task at hand. Gideon was in hiding when God addressed him as a mighty man of valor. I see a line of leadership in my own lineage, thus I can believe I am destined to do certain things, and I see them evolving in shape as time goes by.

    Maybe it’s not a line of demarcation where leaders are only born. That is part of the “formula”, but there may be other parts too, such as focusing on our right passions, learning concepts of leadership, trial and error, getting rid of old and bad habits. We must be life-long learners and never stop learning.

    But, maybe you are right. All that I have discussed might just point back to “I was born to lead. God created me to lead.” Thus all my passions, learning, and whatever is a result of what I was born to do, and as I do it, I will become better and better at it, because I was born to do it.

    • paulokum says:

      Jim, As I read your comment, I believe you came to the conclusion similar to mine. leadership doesn’t come from without by taking a course in leadership. It is something that you forge from within. Leadership isn’t a job or a behavior, it’s a calling. Yes, parents need to lead within their families, individuals need to stand up and confront bullying in the school yard and those parents and courageous individuals that do have the innate leadership talent within them will do just that. They may not have realized it untill that moment, that decision to stand up and say “NO”. The same with parents who nurture their children; good parents with some degree of leadership talent will see them as unique individuals with their own set of talents. Good parents will attempt to help their children discover just what talents they do have. knowing that the more a child can do what he or she was born to do, the more full-filled that child will be in life because they are following their passion, their talent. The parents who don’t do that, and they are by far the larger number, are parents who lack parental talent. And God knows there are a lot of them. Maybe they would benefit from some leadership training, but I doubt that it would stick. Good leaders just have an instinct, a sixth sense that they rely on more than science and logic. Hope this answers your comment. In one of my Blogs titled “Similar goals and legacies of parents and leaders,” I discuss this topic some.

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