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Question: Can leadership be taught?

Thomas Cooley:  Well, I think there are lots of things that can be taught.  So, you know, the ultimate-- it's a very good question.  But, what is true is that in the world of business, fairly quickly people find themselves in a leadership position, in the sense that they're responsible for a group or they're responsible for a team and for managing that team, motivating it,getting people to follow a path to achieve some common objectives.  So there are techniques that you can teach that help people to better understand what's involved and motivating teams and groups of people, and I think it's an ongoing process.  But there are lots of people that believe that leadership can be taught and lots of corporations that take it very seriously.  Corporations like General Electric, which have, you know, made a reputation for developing business leaders.

Question: What are those techniques?

Thomas Cooley:  Well, I think how to function, getting people to understand better how to function in teams, how to work together, how to set goals, how to organize activities in ways that lead you to achieve the common objectives of the team.  

Thomas Cooley:  You know, be willing to embrace the goals, articulate your goals, to understand how to make-- you know, lots of techniques of good leaders are really far more subtle being able to make and support an argument, being able to communicate well, understanding how you interact with other people and how other people perceive you.  These are very subtle things, but they're all things that you can discuss.

Recorded: 3/21/08


Can leadership be taught?

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