Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guest Post: How Relevant is Education to Leadership

From Kat Sanders:

How Relevant is Education to Leadership?

Perhaps the most convincing argument a kid can make against education, the kind of formal learning that’s taught at school today, is to point out that Albert Einstein was not held in too high esteem by his teachers, none of whom expected him to achieve great things in life. Well, in hindsight, we know how wrong an opinion that was! And we also know that academic brilliance is not the only way to achieve a bright future. So does this same principle apply to leadership as well? Are leaders born naturally or are they made through circumstances? While people who do well at school and college (academically) may or may not go on to success in later life, leadership is an aspect that comes to the fore on demand, and this is why, in my book, leaders are born and not made. When we talk of the relationship between education and leadership or of the relevancy that education has in leadership skills, we see that people who assumed leadership in school and college go on to make natural leaders when they are adults. This is because they are familiar with leading from the front and know what leadership involves. I’m not talking of the leadership that is thrust on us, but of that which we take on willingly. For instance, a group may have a designated leader, but he or she is not the one who is actually carrying out all the tasks that a leader should do. Instead, another person in the group, someone who is a born leader, assumes the mantle and sets out to lead the group when the designated leader falters or is found wanting. Consider a sport where each team has a captain, someone who does not necessarily have to be the best in the game, but who is supposed to bring out the best of his/her teammates. Normally, when you’re pretty young, the best player on the team is the captain. But as the games progress and you need to get into the spirit and become more competitive, the team member with a natural flair for leadership takes over and begins directing play and strategy.

Perhaps we could say that situations bring out the true leaders, rather than an education. While you can try to teach people the qualities of leadership, there’s no guarantee that they will become good leaders because of the education. However, if they do have leadership traits in them, no matter how long they remain dormant, they will find a way to break free when the right situation comes. Maybe we could say that a formal education provides us with opportunities for true leaders to show themselves, to understand their skills, and put them to good use all through their lives.

This article is written by Kat Sanders, who regularly blogs on the topic of best online engineering degree at her blog, The Engineering A Better World Blog. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:

1 comment:

Brandon Allen said...

I would agree with what you are saying to a certain extent. I do think that behaviors of good leaders can be learned. Areas such as, how to communicate, how to organize. Certain traits can be learned although I do agree that some just have a more natural predisposition than others.