There is a common debate about whether leadership can be taught. Are we born a leader? Or, do we posses the ability to grow into one with the right guidance? While at a young age, good behavior, and new skills such as math and language become a part of the curriculum, many still cling to the belief that leadership cannot be taught, inside or outside of the classroom. For some, leadership is a quality so complex that few can grasp. For others, it requires the right balance of natural-born qualities. But leadership champion, Andrew LeMasters, has another idea in mind. Leaders aren’t taught, they are always developed.
Challenging the One-Size-Fits-All Mentality
Founding e-learning platform, Spearhead Development, LeMasters wished to ultimately challenge the way we view leadership today. After all, leadership has become a growing problem in American business and society. While more and more industries and businesses are beginning to welcome diversity with open arms, this is not always true when it comes to leadership. Each individual is different and what leadership style works for one person or one group may not work for another. This is where the one-size-fits-all approach fails us.
“I think that a lot of leaders struggle with diversity and it’s a big failure point because it involves an element of leaving their “comfort zone”. Diversity isn’t leaving America and we need to learn how to embrace it because ultimately, diversity is what helps breed success. But there’s an easy solution to this. We need to expand our abilities to understand people. When leaders begin understanding all the details of different personality types, they’re equipping themselves with the tools to handle diversity. If a leader can identify a personality type, understand the best ways to communicate with them, and know what that person needs to excel, they begin eliminating that comfort zone,” LeMasters adds.
Learning From Others
Andrew LeMasters has certainly come across some pretty remarkable leaders, himself. Joining the U.S Army Special Forces, he became a part of a team that completely transformed how he understood others and himself, learning what it really takes to be a leader.
“When I think back about some of the leaders in my past, there are always the same three things that they all had in common and I think they’re three things that all leaders should be able to do. The first is that they have to be able to take chaos and turn it into order. Everyone knows that things never go according to plan. When systems and concepts start failing and those plans go down the drains, leaders have to be able to step in and quickly make decisions that are needed to restore order. The second is that they need to have the ability to inspire people rather its to keep people on task, getting hard jobs done, or to develop personally. I think that an inability to inspire people leads to people becoming stagnant and never progressing. Lastly is an ability to get jobs done without a lot of guidelines. Leaders have to be able to think on their feet and outside of the box and if they don’t know the answers, they have to be able to use their resources to find them,” he explains.
Facing Adversity Like a Leader
While LeMasters was fortunate to be a part of a team that built him up, unfortunately, there were outside forces that tried to tear him down as well. Into his second deployment, he fell so ill that he eventually was no longer deployable. Discharged from the army, LeMasters went through a period of deep isolation, transitioning from his life of adventure to becoming a full-time student. Faced with adversity and the murky waters of his new reality, LeMasters tried to flow with the current and find a new source of success. He began to find new passions at school and started taking inventory of his skills, all which led back to leadership.
“Leading people became my “reason” for why everything had happened to me. I believe I filled my purpose of being a Green Beret because the bigger plan for me was to learn from my experience and use it to develop people into leaders.”
Discovering Your Why
LeMasters shows not only that leaders are developed. He shows that in order to be developed into a leader; one must find their ‘why.’ Everybody has to have a reason behind what they are doing. Without it, we are likely to give up when the going gets tough. But with a deep sense of purpose to guide us, we are limitless. What’s your why?