Is leadership a skill?

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Yes. Leadership is a Skilled That Can be Learned.

Leif Babin is a former Navy SEAL officer, co-author of the New York Times best-sellers, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” and “The Dichotomy of Leadership.” He is  President/Co-founder of Echelon Front, a premier leadership training and education firm.

Leadership is a Skill

No one is born with the ability to play a sport such as football, soccer, or basketball. Playing a sport requires skills that must be learned and enhanced through training. Likewise, no one can pick up a musical instrument such as the guitar, or sit down at a piano, and play those instruments well without years of training and preparation.  

Some people are born with physical attributes that might give them an advantage in a particular sport—such as size, strength, or speed. Others have innate mental and physical qualities that facilitate an aptitude for a particular musical instrument. Nonetheless, playing a sport or a musical instrument is a skill. These skills must be taught, learned, and developed over time through training, practice, and repetition.   

Leadership Must be Taught 

No one is born with great leadership ability. Leadership is a skill that must be taught, learned, and developed over time through training, practice, and repetition. Some people are born with attributes that enable them to develop faster and outperform others as they develop their leadership skills. But without learning the skills required to lead, such people will not ultimately succeed. The pathway to becoming a good leader lies in learning and developing leadership skills through training, education, and continuous, dedicated effort.  

 It’s Not an Inoculation 

You can’t complete a single workout at the gym and expect to be in the best shape of your life. You can’t attend a weekend seminar or read a book about health and nutrition, and automatically perform at the highest levels of strength and cardiovascular endurance. To develop your physical athletic abilities to their peak requires a disciplined training schedule—multiple times a week, for weeks, months, and years.  

The same goes for developing your leadership skills. You can’t read a book, sit through a keynote speech, seminar or workshop, or take a single online course and expect to be at peak leadership performance. Like physical training, leadership is something you must work to develop continuously, multiple times a week, for months and years on end. There is always something new to learn, some area in which to improve, some new leadership challenge to be faced.  

Leadership Development Requires a Disciplined Training Continuum 

Leadership is not just something some people are born with. It is also not something you can only stumble upon through experience. When you recognize that leadership is a skill, you can then put together a disciplined plan to routinely train and educate yourself with frequency and focus on your continuous leadership development. Then, you can prioritize the effort to develop the leadership skills of the people on your team to ensure they are constantly learning, growing, and improving to become more effective leaders. That disciplined effort over time is the pathway to freedom, enabling you and your entire organization to solve problems through leadership and achieve victory.  

Real-World example:

“I’m really good at the technical stuff,” said the leader. “But I find leading other people to be really hard. It just isn’t my thing.”  

“Leading people is the most challenging of human endeavors,” I said. “But the good news is, it isn’t something that any of us are born with. Leadership is a skill that must be learned.” 

“Do you think leadership is actually something that can be taught?” asked the leader, doubtfully.  

“It absolutely can be taught,” I said. “When I ran leadership training for all the officers graduating from our basic SEAL training pipeline, I would see many of them that initially struggled. Some of them were total introverts and were super nervous to brief in front of a group. Some were easily overwhelmed under pressure and couldn’t detach and make decisions. Some were too aggressive in their decision-making without properly considering ways to mitigate risk. They had to be taught how to lead. With training, they grew to become good leaders.”  

“Interesting,” the leader responded. “Were there any leaders you encountered who couldn’t be taught?”  

“Yes,” I replied. “But the only leaders that couldn’t be taught were the ones who weren’t humble enough to realize they needed to improve. If they couldn’t check their ego, they wouldn’t listen to any guidance or constructive feedback, and they would never improve. Even some of the young officers that initially struggled, as long as they were willing to listen, learn, and apply the leadership skills they were taught, showed marked improvement through the course, and most went on to have successful careers.”  

For Action:

This week, focus on how well you are prioritizing leadership training for you and your team. Examine how often you are making time for continuous leadership growth and development. How much time are you prioritizing in your schedule to develop the leadership skills of the people on your team to ensure they are constantly learning, growing, and improving their skills to become more effective leaders? That disciplined effort over time is the pathway to freedom, enabling you and your entire organization to develop the leadership skills that are the critical factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.  

Leadership Development & Alignment Program | (LDAP)

OVERVIEW: Leadership Development and Alignment Programs are highly interactive engagements that match clients with a dedicated team of Leadership Instructors who work in group settings, small team setting, and one-on-one to identify and address the most pressing leadership challenges facing the organization. Each program is co-created and customized with Echelon Front and the client and built to meet specific needs and objectives. Programs range from 3 months – 24 months and can incorporate training sessions with any and every level of leadership within an organization. LDAP clients have full access to individual and team assessments, workbooks, our web-based training platform, one-on-one coaching and advising, and the EF “Tank” which taps into the collective knowledge of the entire EF team including Jocko.

Programs Are Comprised of Four Phases

Results:: A nucleus for building a culture of ownership in your organization. These outcome and metric-based programs provide clients with an extensive knowledge of the principles and application of Extreme Ownership, immense personal and professional growth as leaders, and organizational and individual implementation plans for improvement and sustainment. It’s the most practical leadership training in the market today. We build custom programs that fit each organization’s unique context and learning objectives. These programs transform large groups of leaders, managers, and frontline employees by connecting Extreme Ownership leadership principles to the daily challenges your organization faces. We work with clients by utilizing a variety of building blocks to create the right solutions and ensure lasting impact by helping to tie these solutions to the enduring impact.

Leadership Assessments

EF assesses organizational health and creates alignment around what needs to change to unlock growth. Sound diagnostic expertise – coupled with strong interpersonal coaching – transforms teams, creates a culture of performance, and positions companies for high performance, and positions companies for high achievement. These can be run as organizational, individual, or 360 assessments all centered around the principles of Extreme Ownership.

Instructor-led Training, In-Person or Virtual Options

In-person and virtual training options introduce key leadership principles through an engaging workshops/webinars utilizing practical application exercises, role play scenarios, fire team immediate action drills and open Q&A sessions. Generates excitement and provides a common language to discuss leadership challenges and principles to apply in order to solve problems.

Leadership Sustainment Training

This interactive program is designed to train individuals or small teams through a detailed, multi-tiered certification program. Using the expertise of EF Senior Instructors and the vast resources of EFOnline, leaders can train and certify to facilitate and eventually instruct on the principles taught initially by EF. This critical process is what allows companies to continue a self-sustaining leadership culture long after the engagement with EF has completed.

Web-Based Training – EFOnline.com

A scalable, cost effective model that provides 24-7 access to EF content and leadership instructors. The training includes video lessons, interactive decision-making scenarios, quizzes, self-reflection exercises, downloadable tools among others. The lessons are pragmatic, applicable, and geared toward every level of leadership. When applied, these lessons will actually make your people better leaders and change the culture of your organization.

Co-creation of Leadership Development Programs

We provide thought partnership to integrate Extreme Ownership leadership principles into existing leadership development programs or completely new training programs. Using the framework of EF’s Leadership Development Model, we can support from the instructional design phase through the implementation of these highly transformative programs.

Leadership Coaching and Strategic Advising

Sessions with EF Instructors will enable personalized growth, development and live problem solving of leadership challenges. During our engagements, Executive teams will have access to EF instructors for regular check points. Team-wide advising programs foster seismic shifts for both individuals and organizations.

“Right-up front, let me say that this is the best outside training that I have received in nearly 41 years of my career. I only wish I had another 5-10 years here…to see where we are headed“

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