Practicing Leadership

From an interview on

Ram Charan defies traditional notions about leadership. It’s no longer enough for leaders to be charismatic and courageous to be successful, he says. Instead, they need to hone their skills to address the needs of their organizations…

Workforce Management: What is new about your perspective on leadership?

Ram Charan: In the past, most people have talked about personality when they talk about leadership. They think that leaders are born. My view is that once you are 22 or 23 years old, you have a basis of who you are, but you don’t have the skills yet to be a leader. Many leaders today are great communicators and are charismatic, but that’s not enough. If they can’t perform, they are out. To learn how to perform as a leader, they need to practice through real-life experiences.

WM: How does one “practice” leadership skills?

Charan: You practice the ability to handle diverse experiences. You move from one business to the other and develop your skills as you move along. You learn how to work in a team and how to create change.

Leadership isn’t about personality or charisma. It’s about understanding and skills. That means leadership can be learned, and that leadership looks different in different circumstances.