Are leaders born or made? Do you think someone can learn to be a leader or is it something in a person’s DNA? Like sales. You either have it, or you don’t? You’re either a leader or you’re not.
I am firm believer that leadership is something that can be taught and grown over time. Experiences matter. Seeing examples of good and bad leadership leaves an impression on your personal growth. Just like any skill, leadership can be honed and perfected. Will you make mistakes? Absolutely. Will you question your own leadership? Definitely. If you aren’t always questioning your actions and finding ways to improve how you lead, then (in my opinion), you aren’t a very good leader.
How does one, who wants to either be a leader or is currently in a leadership role, educate themselves?
I like to read. Blogs, self-help books, articles and I follow some great leadership sites online. I also use mentors and peers. I tend to gravitate towards other women leaders and writers because I feel as a woman in a leadership role, I can get the best advice from other women leaders; women in leadership positions handle situations much differently then men do. The whole “Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus” thing is real and that extends to business!
Some of my recent reads have included Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle, Stacey Abrams, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Arianna Huffington and Alicia Menendez. I’m going to go off on a tangent really quick about Alicia Menendez and her book “The Likeability Trap”.
In all the books I have read over the past few years, this book has had the most profound impact on me. I can relate to this book on so many levels and if you are in my peer network, I have already gushed about this book to you. “The Likeability Trap” is about the struggle women in leadership positions find themselves. The line between being liked and being effective. That if you are likeable, you are often perceived as a pushover or unable to make the difficult decisions. On the flip side if you are assertive and direct you are perceived as harsh, cold, and unfeeling.
I have personally felt this struggle and while I am someone who tends to be assertive and direct, I can tell you that the downside is exactly what this book says. I have been called cold, heartless and some cruel words. Why? Because I have a voice and I use it. Because I refuse to be intimidated and because I have high standards (for myself and those around me). I shoot for the stars and don’t accept less. While my organization benefits from this leadership style, there is a downside which includes some pretty brutal and unfair double standards. Total tangent so I’ll stop there, except to encourage all women leaders to read this book. Ok, stepping off my soapbox now.
Anyway, back to leadership skill building.
If learning through books really isn’t your thing, then I have another option for you, and it only comes around every other year. It’s the return of the Leadership Chenango program, through the Chenango Foundation and Commerce Chenango. This program has existed for 20 years and has over 300 distinguished alumni! Many of the leaders and names you often see associated with Chenango County are graduates of this program and we are so happy to bring it back.
The Leadership Chenango program is now recruiting for the Class of 2022! It’s a ten-month program where attendees can hone their leadership skills, learn the ins and outs of Chenango County and make lifelong connections. Those who have been a part of this program always speak about it with such devotion and still have friends and colleagues that they bonded with during their class year.
This year is extra special because we also have a brand-new facilitator, Melissa Stagnaro, who is an alumna herself and has been working hard to revamp the curriculum and program to meet the needs of todays’ leader. The Chenango Foundation Board President, Luke Murphy, is also a Leadership Chenango grad and with his support and leadership, along with that of the Chenango Foundation board, a new year is about to begin!
On November 17th is a very special 5:05 event being held at The Historic Sherburne Inn for anyone who is interested in learning more about the Leadership Chenango program. We are so grateful to the Historic Sherburne Inn board for allowing us to host our event onsite – and I am excited to take a step back in time and see the renovations so far.
Whether you are a member of Commerce Chenango, a Leadership Chenango alum or want to learn more about the program, we invite you to join us for a fun evening. There will be some appetizers and drinks, so reservations are required. You can contact the Commerce Chenango office for more information or to register.
The 5:05 isn’t a requirement of applying for the program, but it is a great way to talk with past graduates and meet the facilitator. Plus, you get to tour the Historic Sherburne Inn … that’s a win-win-win!
I think it’s saying a lot about the type of leader you are, and who you want to be, if you are humble enough to know that there is always more to learn and to take that first step in trying to expand your horizons.
“When we have the courage to walk into our story and own it, we get to write the ending” ~ Brene Brown.
How will your story end?