Leadership Dynamics / Mastering the role

Learning to lead is more than a matter of just completing a program

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Leadership as a course of study is not typically offered in traditional school systems, which is why tens of thousands of career-oriented professionals each year enroll in continuing education programs to get the kind of coaching and training they need to assume more prominent roles in their communities and organizations.

"From a young age, people are trained to follow instructions, both at school and at home," said Krishna Pendyala, an author, speaker and leadership life coach based in Allison Park.

"How do you suddenly switch from a follower to a leader? You will need to unlearn some of the traits you have been conditioned to since childhood. That is where many leadership training programs and coaches are getting their opportunity."

Dozens -- if not hundreds -- of leadership development programs are offered throughout the country by various management support organizations, universities and online trainers. The fact that so many leadership coaches and programs exist speaks volumes about the need.

Training managers to be effective leaders is possible, but it is not always easy because different skills are needed for both roles. Managers track and measure progress, while leaders are driven by a vision and are able to get others to buy into the vision and passionately work toward making it a reality.

"Leadership is not something you can learn just by attending a class or a program. Leadership is something you learn through real world practice and life experience," Mr. Pendyala said, explaining why programs can fall short on producing leaders.

"What you learn in a program is the principles of leadership, not necessarily the people skills."

The program Mr. Pendyala teaches grew out of a mentorship with Robert Rohm, an Atlanta-based corporate trainer who has certified more than 2,000 instructors to teach the course offered through his company, Personality Insights.

His program -- The Ultimate Discovery System -- does not focus on the person attending the course or the position she holds. It mainly focuses on the four leadership styles needed for success: the Dominant leader, the Inspiring leader, the Supportive leader and the Cautious leader.

"I train students in all four personality styles so they can determine how to use the appropriate personality style at the appropriate times," Mr. Rohm said. "All four are important and all four are needed at different times. The key is to learn the personality styles and begin practice using them."

The leader most celebrated and admired in popular culture is the dominant leader. The term applies to the head football coaches, the military generals and the Donald Trumps of the world. They are always in charge, boisterous, loud and highly opinionated.

But leaders come in all shapes and sizes.

The inspiring leader motivates his or her followers, and many have built great empires by inspiring others to greatness. Some examples are Houston-based mega-church pastor Joel Osteen, Oprah Winfrey and motivational self-help guru Anthony Robbins.

Supportive leaders want to encourage and assist their followers, much like a therapist would work with a patient. Examples of successful supportive leaders include Mother Teresa and Pittsburgh native Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers.

Cautious leaders, on the other hand, are extremely careful because everything they do is based on doing things correctly. Cautious leaders include medical doctors, dentists, airplane pilots, mechanics and business leaders like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who created a highly technical product that has changed the course of history.

"Leadership can't always be measured like you are filling a container of milk or water," Mr. Rohm said. "It's an art and a science. The science part of it is there may be some measurable goals they can attain, like number of sales or new clients signed up.

"The art aspect comes into play because you are dealing with people and every person is unique with different needs and ways of going about demonstrating leadership qualities.

"Everything rises and falls on leadership," he said. "Where there is a leadership void, it won't be long before things begin to unravel and fall apart.

"If you have great leadership, things rise and get better. The leader must set the tone for the direction of the entire organization."

-- Tim Grant: tgrant@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1591


First Published May 3, 2013 4:00 AM


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