I'm one of those people that believes good leaders can be created. If I didn't, there would be no point of offering some services that I do. Having said that, I know that there are many different systems and ideas out there that help to teach someone how to become better. However, I also tend to believe that there are some major steps, 3 in fact, that one needs to take that no one can really teach. I bet you're wondering what those are. I'm about to tell you below:

ILA 2011 honoree Wayne Don
Creative Commons License Sam Beebe via Compfight

1. You have to want to change or be better. If you're bad and you know it and you want to change, that's a great epiphany. If you're not bad but want to be better, that's a growth step, and you should feel good in your endeavor to be better.

Many people participate in leadership training every year and at the end of it are just as they were before they started. Whenever I hear someone say "we get enough leadership training", I know that person hasn't paid any attention or cared about the reason they were there. Those who care absorb new techniques. But no one learns anything they didn't care about.

2. You have to take a full assessment of what your strengths and weaknesses are. You might think you need to learn how to communicate better with people. You might think you need to learn how to control your temper. Trust me, those things are only scratching the surface. You can't change or improve anything without knowing what those things are.

Most people hate taking time to think about things when it concerns them. I have spent hours looking into my own psyche. I know what I'm good at, what I'm bad at, and what I can live with. That's actually a very important thing to consider because it means you realize you can't please everyone and you can't be perfect.

3. You have to be willing to open yourself up in some fashion to being critiqued by someone else. This can be really scary, but it could also make you feel pretty good.

When I was last an employed director I participated in a leadership training class where we were asked to take an assessment of our leadership skills. Then we were dared to give it anonymously to some of our employees to see how some of them thought about us.

I did it and was pleasantly surprised that 9 of 10 anonymous people picked all high scores for me. One didn't, but that wasn't as important as knowing that I was 90% effective. I did look to see which areas I was ranked lowest at on the one assessment and those were the same areas I had ranked myself lowest. So I wasn't surprised that one person saw me as I saw myself, but I also knew those weren't areas I was going to change, so I concentrated on the other areas where I'd been ranked, but not as high as I'd have liked to be.

Once you've done these 3 things, you're ready for improvement. Not that you won't learn something without going through all these things, but without being willing to go as far as you can, you might limit yourself to what you're open to learn. Think about it; how far are you willing to go to become a better leader?