What does Education contribute to Leadership?

One of my favourite quotes is one that speaks to the value of education in bringing out the most in people:

“Regard man as a mine, rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can alone cause it to reveal its treasures.” – Baha’u'llah

Whenever we look at an individual with the view of helping them to become leaders, education is a key. Why? Because, while someone may have natural talent in influencing others, or specialized skills that they can share, they still need to learn and understand concepts of leading. Among other thing, they need to learn empathy, they need to be guided by ethics, they need to learn how to lead people in a direction that will do long term good for the organization, and they need to learn that while having a short term outlook has its place in leaderhip, that it must be balanced with integrity and long term perspectives.

Forging leadership skills is a process, not an event. This process requires continuous education, nurturing, practice and learning from successes and failures. And because newly promoted leaders are also dealing with the lives of others, they need to learn how to be sensitive to the results that they create in the lives of others and how those impacts may be signaling problems with their own skills. Being defensive won’t solve their issues.

For example, while it is reasonable that a leader may periodically call upon certain staff members to work overtime on occasion, habitually calling upon them to do so generally is likely a signal that certian skills are lacking. They may lack planning and estimating skills or the skills necessary to communicate to their own superiors that their teams are over-loaded. They may also may have resources who are undertrained or they may lack stragic planning skills which will help them to periodically stop their own work to look at the situation from a broader perspective. Look at the larger perspective will help them to eliminate unnecessary tasks or process steps.

Education is a key in learning and advancing leadership skills, attitudes, concepts and habits, and knowing that a candidate is likely to continuously strive to advance themselves is an important criteria in the selection process.

All the best,

Garth Schmalenberg
web:  http://www.hbi-leadership.com
e-mail: garth@hbi-leadership.com
Phone: 416-919-6598
twitter: http://www.twitter.com/gschmalenberg

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