High school and university is supposed to prepare us for our lives, but the issue is — do they fully prepare us? There is the argument that traditional university and schooling does not suffice anymore, that the real world wants to see experience and natural talent. Higher learning is always a safe way to go, but it may not teach everything. The business world is always looking for the next Steve Jobs or Gary Vaynerchuk, but sometimes it is difficult to determine if business leadership is learned or if people are born with it naturally.


Everyone who has attended university for business has been in a business management class. This is a great place to learn the rhyme and reasons for certain business behaviors and how to effectively manage a team. Laying the basic foundation on becoming a business leader is crucial. Along with gathering textbook knowledge, being in a class room setting allows you to work with groups, ask questions, and get responses from people who have field experience. Everyone knows though, there is that one person who stands out from everyone else — even then — and it seems to come naturally.

Natural talent

Although having a great education helps, being a natural born leader will always set a person apart from the crowd. An example is Gary Vaynerchuk, with his natural personality assets, and it is difficult to ignore him when he speaks. This type of outward behavior was not learned, but rather natural. Of course he puts in the time and effort to fine-tune all he does, but that essential “thing” that makes him what he is — is natural talent.

Another benefit of having natural talent is that it opens the gateway somewhat easier than the gateway for someone who has to learn the craft and the skill of leadership — and then the ones who are not endowed with the natural leadership skills have to practice this craft until it becomes natural to them. This all takes time. Certainly this is not to say it’s impossible to learn, but it will take a while longer to “arrive” and that potentially could be the difference in obtaining a position within an organization.

Can it be learned?

Business leadership most certainly can be learned, but natural ability will take business leadership to the next level. That’s not to say being a business leader is unattainable, rather other people may be naturally cut out for that type of roll. It is the same as becoming a professional athlete, some people are better cut out for that type of career.

The phrase that comes to mind is the old adage of, “fake-it ‘till you make it.” In order to lead, a person has to be confident while personable, and sturdy while having the ability to bend when necessary. Of course a person can practice these skills as they grow, but again, if this comes naturally to an individual, it will be more evident to everyone else. Always focus on the strong points you have and do not let any perceived weakness inhibit your personal business development.


Transitioning into a business leadership role may not be for everyone, so it is important to do a self-evaluation. Be sure to understand if leadership is your strong point. There’s nothing wrong with it not being your primary attribute, but keep in mind if a leadership roll is the desired path, there could be someone who has the same book smarts — but, if there’s a naturally ability to lead — they will out perform you. But, who cares? If leadership is your goal — do it!

Answering the question about leadership, yes, business leadership can be learned, but that doesn’t mean that learning it is the most efficient way to implement business leadership. Even if the knowledge gained in learning about business leadership is not used in a leadership role, it will be greatly beneficial in every aspect of your life whether it be business, or personal.


William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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