I believe that people have natural capabilities as leaders.  These are not capabilities that atrophy over the course of your life.  Whatever the natural sort of capabilities that you have as a leader, it can grow and can be developed.  If you have a lot of it and you don’t invest in it, it will not increase.  If you have very little, but you invest in it, it can dramatically increase.  

What I think we can do at Harvard Business School - and in fact in any other education institution - is not that we develop leaders by the time they graduate, but what we do is we give you a set of ways in which you can accelerate how you can learn and develop your leadership over time. 

So what I promise people is that if you come to Harvard Business School, the slope of what you will learn from experience as a result of coming here will be much, much greater because we will give you frameworks. We will give you ways of sensing. We’ll give you ways of acting. We’ll allow you to connect with other people.  So we’ll give you ways in which the experience which lies ahead, which you will inevitably have to learn from to develop as a leader, is one in which your confidence about how you approach those experiences, how you reflect upon them and how you act upon them, will be enhanced by your time in Harvard Business School.  

So I don’t think what you do is you teach leadership, what you do is you help people become better learners from experience so that they can enhance their own leadership.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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